Friday Firesmith – Cats

Many years ago, I dated a woman who help feed a “colony’ of feral cats. She would set food out in a half dozen containers and the cats would come out of the woods to eat. I had never seen this before close up, and it was an odd experience. She bought about fifty pounds of cat food a month, and tried to recuse the kittens that lived in the colony, but most of them had feline leukemia. She and I disagreed in regard to feeding feral cats, and in the end, that was one of the differences we couldn’t get past.

            There’s places in Australia were a bounty on feral cats has been issued, much to the dismay of those people who feed them, and honestly, I can see where having someone out there killing cats is going to cause some serious emotional distress among cat advocates. But the damage done to native populations of birds is horrific.

            Those groups in favor or culling feral cats include bird watchers, herpetology groups, and advocates for native small mammals. The “oh gosh they are so cute” groups are losing the fight in Australia, and unless the cat advocates in the States can figure out what to do and how to do it, feral culls in America will become the new normal.

            That brings us to the advocates of  Trap-Neuter-Return, or TNR, whose proponents swear is the way to go.  Trap-Neuter-Return

            The idea behind TNR is to break the breeding cycle of feral cats, and therefore reducing the population. If pursued diligently, it would work, as long as there’s no new cats being dumped by careless owners, which is the real issue behind any stray pet problem.

            In dog rescue, the local pound here euthanizes, on average, five or six dogs a day. Puppies and cute dogs get to go into the adoption area, and dogs deemed too anything to be adopted are not.

            In defense of the TNR programs, the pound has been putting dogs down for decades without putting a real stop to stray dogs. Any dogs that go into rescue are neutered, but we still do not run out of strays.

            My biggest fear in the “Kill Them All” pogrom, especially if there is money involved, is hunters will seek out pet cats and take them, too, and no cat will be safe. Worse, this sort of mindset will no doubt lead cruel people to begin their own killing sprees in a manner that is inhumane and reckless.

            In the meanwhile, millions of native birds, reptiles, and small mammals die under the claws of feral cats. People unwittingly help spread disease by dumping cats, and feeding feral colonies.

            I fear if we do not put forth the effort to somehow stop feral cats from breeding, we will live to see a day where cats are considered fair game by anyone who wants to kill them.

As a society, we cannot abandon compassion in order to save money on programs that do not include killing animals that humans are ultimately responsible for.  

Take Care,


Mike writes regularly at his site:  The Hickory Head Hermit.

Opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those of the management of this site.

11 thoughts on “Friday Firesmith – Cats”

  1. All the smarties in various scientific and naturalist organizations agree that cats are the deadliest predator on Earth. They credit cats with 26% of the extinctions of birds, reptiles and mammals since 1600, but cop out saying “contributed to”. How can they be that vague and still say 26%?
    Smithsonian and US Fish & Wildlife are more definite but still an estimate, saying in the US alone 1.3 to 3.7 Billion birds and 6.3 to 22.3 Billion mammals. Keep in mind rats and mice are mammals as well as bunnies and cute stuff.

    Catch and neuter? Have at it but you won’t get anywhere until everyone is on board, preferably helping but certainly not circumventing. I don’t see that happening. Even if cats were killing human babies there would be people saying I don’t have a baby and cats are cute. Because I’m sure it’s tilting at windmills I don’t want to pay for it.
    I’d rather pay a bounty and give the meat to prisons and school lunch programs. It worked with the Buffalo.

  2. The county that I live in has a TNR program. There are some neighborhoods with several spayed cats taking care of mice and my enemy, moles. My wife, the cat lady, has adopted two (my limit) of them and feeds and lets them sleep in our garage. Ours love to be petted and are not afraid of humans. Go figure.

  3. i love cats; but feral cats have decimated the bird population in Hawaii. an isolated example but one where it is very easy to recognize the cause.

  4. I thought it was one of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s more memorable productions — and I love Barbara Streisand’s rendition of Memory (from the same show).

    Funny how Mike directs our collective disdain away from snakes exactly one week after St Patrick’s Day. I’m sure if we could commercialize St. Gertrude (patron saint of cats) by adding an excuse for heavy drinking and merry (meowy)-making – this would be less of an issue…. at least that’s how the CATholic Church sees it. 🙂

  5. When I see reports of cats killing millions of birds, I think–wait, there were almost a billion birds in the US when I was a kid? Yes, I know that birds hatch and die of other causes, but the numbers seem a bit off. Still an issue with feral cats, though. We have two cats that only go outside when they are in a carrier heading to the vet.

    A small town we like in Mexico that is popular with Canadian and American snow birds (people going south for the winter), there are people there that will capture feral dogs and cats; vets will treat the animals at cost of medicines to make them healthy and neutered, then the groups will try to get the cats/dogs adopted (we have two dogs from there). When we first started going down there about 15 years ago or so, you would see feral dogs and cats frequently. Now, you hardly see them even though there are people who abandoned their animals.

  6. Oddly enough, Richard, cats are better at killing birds than mice, even if the cats are neutered. And honestly, until you mentioned it, I never thought they were mole hunters.

  7. Keith, the fact that this issue is as big a problem on an island underscores why it’s a bigger disaster on the mainland. And why more and more people are willing to try drastic measures.

  8. Tim, the research is solid on both the number of birds that cats kill, and also the fact that spay and neuter work.Yet as long as people dump their pets, we are going to have a problem.

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