Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Cats are bad for birds

Two articles this month have come out strongly in favour of keeping cats inside to protect birds. Audubon attacks the position of trap-neuter-release programs for cats as misguided and bad science, while the New York Times stresses that cats should be indoor pets, for the cat's health, and the neighbourhood birds.

Both articles boil down to: Cats kill for fun, even if they are well-fed. Don't let them.


Wildlife biologists and law-enforcement officials contend that in most situations feeding feral cats violates federal law because it facilitates “take” of species protected by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act and/or the Endangered Species Act. The take is prodigious. The American Bird Conservancy estimates that 150 million free-ranging cats kill 500 million birds a year in the United States. And according to a peer-reviewed study published February 24, 2009, in Conservation Biology, TNR causes “hyperpredation,” in which well-fed cats continue to prey on bird, mammal, reptile, and amphibian populations so depressed they can no longer sustain native predators.

The New York Times:

Moreover, free-ranging domestic cats are considered subsidized predators. They eat cat food at home, and then hunt just for sport, a strategy that allows them to exist at densities far greater than carnivores achieve in nature. “It’s estimated that there are 117 million to 150 million free-ranging cats” in the United States, Dr. Marra said. “They’re the most abundant carnivore in North America today.”