Feral Cats and the Rapid Decline in Bird Populations

posted by Jael Ever @ 20:46 PM
May 13, 2011

Because of a family member who loves cats, this writer wanted to avoid the controversy, but several national organizations now claim that, in addition to Global Warming, birds across the country are falling prey to feral cats.  Wildlife Extra posits that there are over 60 million feral cats in the United States.  And the American Bird Conservancy (ABC) has demanded for years that something be done about feral cats.  Researchers at the University of Nebraska (UN) even suggest that a good way to stop the avalanche of bird disappearances across the country is to start killing cats.  Moreover, they are definitely against the common practice of catching stray cats, neutering them and then releasing them back into the wild.  While this may seem to decrease the stray cat population, they explain, it does nothing to stop cats from stalking birds.  Bird-advocate organizations cite  Australia which poisoned feral cats in order to save that continent’s rarest parrot.

 While the UN report naturally upset cat lovers, ABC lauded the report.  One official with that organization insists that the University report is “must read for any community or government official thinking about what to do about feral cats.”  Bird advocates insist that feral cats are invasive predators that multiply, spread disease and kill native wildlife.  “The difference is that we’ve had cardinals and blue jays and blue birds here that have existed for thousands of years, and we’ve just had cats for a few hundred years,” said Bob Johns with American Bird Conservancy. “What’s happening now is that the predators are now exploding.”  Bird advocates further point out that more than 30 bird species have been wiped out, that domesticated cats are just as prone to kill birds as wild cats, that 60 to 80 percent of feral cats carry the parasite responsible for toxoplasmosis which is most harmful to pregnant women.  The report says communities must: cease building feral cat colonies, euthanize cats or kill them with gunshots to the head, chemical injection or carbon dioxide asphyxiation––rather than just neutering them. Phyllis Larsen, part of a feral cat management group, argues that killing cats is not an effective method for feral cat management.  She says these cats help to control pest populations like rabbits, squirrels, mice and other rodents.   While she admits that cats do kill birds, she submits other reasons for the rapid bird declines in the U.S.:  habitat destruction, herbicides, insecticides, cars, open windows, cell towers, etc.

 Feral cats are but a small segment of wild beasts roaming the United States posing a danger to people and other animals in nature.   But even those holding domesticated cats must admit that this is an animal which cannot be trained or tamed.  Is it not time to produce wholesale Christian T-shirts to argue that birds represent God:  “As birds flying, so will The Lord of hosts defend Jerusalem (Isaiah 31: 5), and point out that cats who kill defenseless birds do not represent Him at all.

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