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Jon Cox

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Cats pose a serious threat to biodiversity: Why do we accept it? What should be done?

According to the ASPCA, there are around 90 million owned domestic cats (Felis catus) in the U.S., and taking into account strays and feral cats, the total number is estimated to be as high as 160 million (1). Loss et al. (2013) estimates that cats roaming outdoors kill 1.4-­3.7 BILLION birds and 6.9­-20.7 BILLION mammals in the U.S. annually (2). Reptiles and amphibians such as snakes, lizards, frogs, etc., are also frequently killed by cats.

Cats are even more popular New Zealand, where they are contributing to declines of endemic birds such as the critically endangered kakapo (3), which have evolved in the absence of predators. Businessman/philanthropist Gareth Morgan is trying to gather support for legislation that would aggressively deal with stray and feral cats and potentially eliminate cats from New Zealand to take pressure off of threatened species (4 & 5). With Morgan’s plan, in addition to regulation that would reduce cat populations and increase owner accountability, residents would be encouraged to not replace their cats. As of now the majority of New Zealanders surveyed are in opposition to Morgan’s initiative.

Would a proposition like Morgan’s meet similar resistance in the U.S.? Probably, but is he on the right track? Would you personally support something like it for your state or country? Why or why not is it a good idea? Is this type of legislation necessary to curb the problem and protect wildlife? If you disagree, what are some alternatives? Will the aesthetics and familiarity of cats keep them off limits to such ideas in the opinions of the general public?

1. http://www.aspca.org/about-us/faq/pet-statistics.aspx
2. http://www.abcbirds.org/abcprograms/policy/cats/pdf/Loss_et_al_2013.pdf
3. http://www.avianweb.com/kakapo.html
4. http://www.npr.org/blogs/thetwo-way/2013/01/24/170191917/new-zealand-environmentalist-wants-to-eliminate-cats-to-save-birds
5. http://www.livescience.com/26525-cat-eradication-new-zealand-save-birds.html

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Closing Statement from Jon Cox

Thanks to everyone who contributed to a thought provoking discussion!

I think we can all agree that we need to be responsible with our pets! For the sake of ecological and human health. And pet owners must realize that their carelessness is costly. Plans to completely eliminate cats from areas where they are very popular are pretty far fetched, but stricter regulation is a must, and domestic cats do NOT belong in the wild, period. Feral cats need to be seen and dealt with just as any other invasive species. However, extreme caution is necessary in any attempt to remove them where they have become established as a keystone species.

Check out Australian cat laws for a look at the legislation adopted by a people who cherish their native wildlife and do not want to see it be destroyed by invasives.

And lastly, we must keep in mind that invasive species are just one way in which we threaten biodiversity. Overexploitation and especially habitat loss pose even greater threats to species survival.

Thanks again!

Jon

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  • May 8 2013: After 15 years of trying to reason with criminally negligent cat-lickers, I learned my lesson (at the loss of nearly all the native wildlife on my lands that were tortured or starved to death by their invasive species vermin cats). You can't train a cat to stay home; but I found that, in time; you CAN train a disrespectful, inconsiderate, and criminally irresponsible neighbor into being a responsible, considerate, and respectable adult. One who finally takes care of their animals like any responsible grown-up would.

    Google for this complete string, as-is, including all quotes:

    "Licensing and laws do nothing to curb the problem." AND "I don't see anyone dumping cats where I live anymore." AND "irreversible consequences"

    Therein you'll find a humane answer that works 100%, is affordable by any individual or size of community, and the cat problem is completely resolved PERMANENTLY in less than 2 seasons. Guaranteed.

    People who let cats roam free only do so because they think their disease-ridden INVASIVE SPECIES cats are going to live idyllic lives chasing and torturing animals (valuable native species) or someone else will take care of their vermin cat for them. If they realize that that cat will die within hours or days from them having dumped it or letting it roam free, the dumping and free-roaming of cats stops 100%. They can't just believe it MIGHT happen, they have to KNOW that IT WILL HAPPEN. It worked where I live.

    Did I mention that you have to ignore every last thing these deranged invasive species lovers spew to the world? That's the MOST important part. Asking them for advice and help to solve the problem they created and are hellbent on perpetuating is as foolish as asking your local career thieves for advice and help to hide your valuables from their daily motives and activities. That's where I made a foolish error for 15 years. Don't make the same mistake I did. Just do what needs to be done and the problem is solved -- PERMANENTLY.
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      May 8 2013: Sounds like somebody is allergic to cats! >^..^

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