Free roaming "outdoor cats"


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Old 03-04-13, 03:58 PM
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Free roaming "outdoor cats"

I just read an article about a Smithsonian funded study of the impact cats have on birds and small mammals. I know that the Audobon Society has been warning for years that cats are decimating songbird populations in many areas of the country, but I wasn't aware of the extent of the damage done. According to the study cats kill on average 2.4 billion birds in the US each year. Yup! That's Billion with a B.

Spaying and neutering isn't getting it done as cat owners allow their pets to roam free and the feral cat problem continues to grow.

If a pesticide was having this sort of effect on birds the outcry would rightfully be tremendous.

It's time for a "keep your cat in your yard" law.
 
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Old 03-04-13, 05:06 PM
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I agree for urban areas, but out here in the boonies, all the birds are on the front porch, eating. I think the kill ratio may be a little out of kilter, too. There is probable 10 kazillion birds, and 2.4B is just scratching the surface. Statistics in the wrong hands cause ears to burn wrongfully. Ours kill about 2 or 3 a month. But we have hundreds feeding and flittering around. Besides, the cats can only catch the slow ones.
 
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Old 03-04-13, 05:25 PM
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I don't see them bothering the birds that much, but we have two cats next door that are decimating our rabbit population. We live in the country, with acreage, so not many neighbors too close, but our house and one neighbors house set closer toward a common property line. And we always have a large garden, so the rabbits can be a nuisance at times, but they belong here, so I don't mind a little friendly competition with them. When I start mowing in the spring, I have two things that I watch for; rabbit nests and snapping turtle nests. The snapping turtles usually do okay, once they get past the first couple of nights without the raccoons getting them, but we got new neighbors a couple of years ago, and they have two cats that they let run. They seem like decent people, and I have talked with them numerous times, to no avail. The ironic thing is that they are from the city, and say that they moved here to be closer to wildlife; go figure.
 
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Old 03-04-13, 06:10 PM
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Cats should be kept indoors; safer for them and their prey. If a coyote shows up in the neighborhood the feral cat population goes down quickly.
 
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Old 03-05-13, 03:27 AM
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We have 2 cats and they are outdoor cats. My wife is allergic to cat hair and I'm not crazy about animals in the house. I also agree that the statistics might be overstated. Our cats are sisters, one is a hunter, the other isn't. They catch mice, moles or wood lizards on a weekly basis..... and my wife loves them for it It's only a few times a year that they catch a rabbit or bird. Kind of wish they would leave the birds alone but each rabbit they get is one less that can feed on my garden

I couldn't imagine living in a rural setting and not having a cat free to roam. While there are coyotes in our region, I've never seen one or sign of one on my property. We do have the occasional bobcat come thru but the cats are smart enough to find a safe place when need be.
 
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Old 03-05-13, 11:37 AM
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I wish I could access the study itself, but it's pay for access and I'm relying on a couple of articles that I read. Here is a LINK to one of the published articles.

"Researchers estimate that one pet cat kills one to 34 birds a year, while a feral cat kills 23 to 46 birds annually. As a result, the new study provides a wide range of the total bird death count. "

"The very high credibility of this study should finally put to rest the misguided notions that outdoor cats represent some harmless new component to the natural environment,” Fenwick said. “The carnage that outdoor cats inflict is staggering and can no longer be ignored or dismissed.”

One of the other articles I read regarding the study is that spay and neuter doesn't work regarding feral cats. Programs that capture feral cats and spay them have little impact on bird mortality. The study estimates that there are tens of millions of feral cats in the US.

I had a serious feral cat problem a couple of years ago. Those cats are all gone on to the big litterbox in the sky.
 
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Old 03-05-13, 03:21 PM
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Juliet Eilperin is a reporter. She covers the White House. She is not by any means an authority on cats or birds. As I said in my first post, statistics when left to chance will make the matter more convoluted. She did not state what the bird population was, nor did she indicate much more than we "have to take action, now". Typical from the Washington Post. Must have been a really slow news day, there.

My cats prefer squirrels, but no one is helping them out
 
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Old 03-06-13, 04:10 AM
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no one is helping them out
The cats? or the squirrels?
 
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Old 03-06-13, 04:27 AM
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The Washington Post has time to assign a White House reporter to cover the "problem" of cats killing birds, so I just figure they could devote time to the squirrels.

Ouch, that must have hurt! Sitting here watching a squirrel trying to feed from a squirrel proof feeder. Jumps to the top of the feeder, tries to lower himself to the cross rod, then falls 20' to the ground. Three times
 
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Old 03-06-13, 06:15 AM
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I don't think the cat problem is as bad as it sounds in N. America mainly because there are predators. In my area coyotes, fox and possibly bobcat limit the wild cat population. Where I think it's a serious problems are places without higher level predators like Hawaii and New Zealand. There the feral cats reproduce unchecked and many of the animal species had evolved with no predators so they nest on the ground where their young are easy prey.
 
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Old 03-06-13, 06:58 AM
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Larry - The reporter you mentioned was simply covering a study done by the Smithsonian and the US F&W. Her newspaper affiliation with is irrelevant. The same study was covered by other reporters from other media including one from the AP. The article that I read first was from a local newspaper in Vermont and it was written by one of their reporters.

I'm having a difficult time understanding how one can refute a scientific study by reputable sources based simply on personal observation of the behavior of an individual cat. The study included thousands of data points and the conclusions are not new, just even more alarming. The Audabon Society has been warning about this for years. What the study did was confirm that the problem is much worse than even Audabon members believed.

PilotDane - The study did mention the effect of cats on island bird and mammal populations. I don't remember the exact number but I think it was 14 bird species now extinct due to feral cats released on islands in the Pacific. National Geographic mentioned the impact of cats on one South Pacific island in an article about invasive species.
 
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Old 03-06-13, 07:14 AM
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Shifting the subject slightly, search “Guam and tree snake poisoning”. Tree snakes are devastating the bird population so authorities are “air-dropping” mice dosed with acetaminophen (Tylenol active ingredient) with streamers attached to the mice so they get hung up in trees for easy access by the tree snakes.

This will be toxic to the snakes and painless for the mice. I wonder if the mice will get a unit citation for their “air-assault”.?
 
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Old 03-06-13, 07:53 AM
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And yet the organizations that are concerned about the songbird population are the same organizations that want to take away the most effective method of feral cat population control--a 5.56mm.
 
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Old 03-06-13, 09:26 AM
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Wayne, it was not a scientific expose. For it to meet that criterion it would absolutely need all the parameters, and it was missing the most important one.......the total bird population. Without anything to compare it to, the large kill number is meaningless. Statistics only lie when you tell them to.
 
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Old 03-06-13, 12:43 PM
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Not so much anymore. From what I gathered they are taking the position that TNR (trap neuter and return) is ineffective and are considering a trap and kill recommendation. That was from the US F&W standpoint. I think that Audubon continues to be wishy washy on kill policies.

Speaking from personal experience, a few years ago we had at least 5 cats in my area. Four were feral and one was a outdoor pet. We never saw rabbits or squirrels in the yard. I watched a feral cat kill a cardinal in my back yard. Unable to kill them (against the law here it's considered animal cruelty) I enlisted the aid of our ACO. He gave me traps, I trapped them and he killed them. All except the outdoor pet. That one was returned to it's owner. Since then the rabbits and squirrels are back (I kill the squirrels) and we've lots of songbirds.
 
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Old 03-06-13, 12:57 PM
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I kill the squirrels
Again, I see we are discriminating against squirrels. How gastly!. They do make a pretty good stew, don't they??

We don't have a feral problem, nor a coyote problem where we are, now, but on my previous cattle farm, I never left the house without a rifle. Target practice on coyotes. They were a menace to pets and to newborn calves, so we had to keep them at bay.
 
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Old 03-06-13, 01:50 PM
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TNR does appear to limit the size of feral colonies...from what I have read....but it wouldn't limit bird kills I wouldn't think. They still want to eat and they do have their hunter instinct. Even if they are being fed by the various support groups....they will still hunt...they can't help it.
 
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Old 03-06-13, 03:00 PM
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they will still hunt...they can't help it
That's for sure! Our cats were fixed before they were a yr old. I don't know that they eat them but they often leave a dead mole or mouse at the front door. In the summer time you need to look before you step outside barefoot
 
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Old 04-05-13, 12:04 AM
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The law that allows for "free roaming" cats should be repealed or at least amend

I’ve read all the responses and it seems like there’s a hang up on birds, squirrels and rabbits.

What about our rights? I am an asthmatic. My asthma is induced by allergies. We have such a large number of ferals and free roaming cats, that upon returning to my drive way one morning after taking my youngest to school, I found 7 cats in my small yard relieving themselves of their morning excrement. It is illegal to kill cats where I am at, as well, but if I had of had a fire arm handy there would have been a few less kitties in the world that day. I am not an animal hater and I actually think that cats are cute and somewhat cuddly, but that is vermin behavior. I am going to start cataloging the days that our landscapers stir up the dirt and other outdoor build up to when my worst asthma attacks are. I can almost guarantee that they correlate.

I don’t believe that cats should be allowed to roam freely and I do believe that feral cat colonies should be eliminated. TNR programs are a joke. We need a TNE program (trap, neuter and eliminate) Felis Silvestris is not an indigenous species to the US and they shouldn’t be treated as such. They do decimate bird populations and since they don’t eat the entire carcass, they leave the feathery left overs in my yard as well. If only they would be more exclusive with their meals, dining solely on pigeons then maybe the end would justify the means, but that isn’t the case. Birds and lizards are our natural pest controllers and with their decrease roaches, scorpions, spiders and other creepy crawlies thrive.

And who says that we want the larger predators (bob cats, coyotes and dare I say, mountain lions) to come into our neighborhoods and “take care of the problem?” Personally, I’d rather not walk outside and find a bobcat or something larger on the roof of my car or have to worry about my Chihuahua’s when I let them out in my back yard.

As for cats that are personal pets, the owners should be held responsible for them. Keep them inside and license them. Through licensing the proper authorities can make sure that they kitties are spayed or neutered, vaccinated and properly tagged. Dogs have to be licensed, why not cats? And, as far as owners that want their cats to be able to roam (which to me is just another way of saying,” I want to own a cat, but I don’t want a nasty litter box in my house,”) they should have to pay for that luxury. Yeah, pay for it, then take that money and hire someone to come clean up their cat’s poop out of my yard. And those same cats that carry that special licensing should also have a special collar that allows for “shock training,” so those of us that don’t want them or their hair, poop, and spray (yep they mark worse than dogs) in their yard or on their expensive lawn furniture and plants, can purchase the invisible fence and keep their expensive outdoor retreats free from the furry intruders and their excrement.

Whatever law that declares cats as “free roaming” should be repealed or at least amended to protect the rights of those that are allergic and/or those that simply don’t want their presence in their yards and homes.
 
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Old 04-05-13, 03:40 AM
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Good morning Alisha, and welcome to the forums!! As you can see there is a variety of opinions regarding this, and none is definitive. Asthmatic conditions are nothing to be taken lightly (I started to say....nothing to be sneezed at, but that wouldn't have been proper). I have a grandson who was diagnosed with cat allergies, along with peanuts, and the whole gamut. So his parents have diligently kept him away from cats. They have a new dog, and he has no problem with it. We have 3 cats, and contemplating the grandkid's visit recently, we stormed the ideas of how to keep the cats away from him.

Well, as it turned out, the cats found their way back into the house via the dog door in the basement, and he (5 years old), had a blast playing with them. Turns out his allergy to cats was psycho-semantic. People told him he was allergic to them, and it was a misdiagnosis.

Locking up cats via legislation won't solve the problem. Talking to the cat's owners may help more. They should understand your allergies, and your property rights, and keep their animals under control.

I am sure there will be more comments, so hang on and check back.
 
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Old 04-05-13, 04:55 AM
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I understand the asthma and allergies as my wife is plagued by both She loves our cats because they keep the rodent population down. Our cats are always outside, I'm pretty sure one has never left the property [16 acres] but the other is a hunter and probably does.

As far as I know, dogs don't need to be licensed in my county although they are required to keep their rabies vaccinations current. Different story in a town near me. I think they passed a law requiring cats to be on leash when outside. Not sure how they enforce it. I did see one cat in town with a leash attached to a clothes line They also tried to pass an ordinance that would ban pets from being outside after dark - it was shot down!
 
 

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