|Mark Twain once said, “If man could be crossed with the cat, it would improve man but deteriorate the cat.”
What some people who truly care about animals don’t always understand is that breeding more animals while
so many are dying is WRONG. There are millions of animals in shelters who will be put to death that will make
just as loyal a companion as a breed animal. Often shelter animals are observably grateful to you for saving
their life and offering them help, and a deep bond is created.
Breed animals often come from mills/factories. Many mills are run under similar circumstances as farm animals.
Kept in small crates and repeatedly impregnated for YOU. They are mass produced for PROFIT, not for any
love of animals. When you buy a breed animal, his/her mother is likely not a very happy animal, and YOU must
take responsibility for that for buying anything from that industry. If you truly love animals and want a companion
for the RIGHT reasons, DO NOT buy breed animals or animals from pet stores - save a shelter animal’s life!!!
The Top Ways You Can Take Good Care of Your Pet and Help the World At the Same Time:
1. KEEP YOUR CATS INDOORS!!!
We love cats, but do not foolishly disregard the damage cats can do to the native environment. They are an
introduced, invasive species and can have a definite negative impact on our native wildlife. If you let your cats
out, PLEASE take a moment to read the following articles and RECONSIDER.
*CLICK HERE TO GO TO AN IMPORTANT PAGE ABOUT OUTDOOR CATS*
2. Use eco-friendly cat litter.
3. When thinking of adopting a new pet, consider the long-term obligation and be sure you can commit to it.
When you decide to adopt, please give a much-needed home to a shelter animal. Also, kittens and puppies
usually are easily adopted. Consider an older animal that really needs a good home and a safe place to call
"People who desire the companionship of dogs and wish to do what is best for dogs do not breed them;
they adopt from animal shelters...Every newborn puppy or kitten means one home fewer for a dog or cat
desperately waiting in a shelter or roaming the streets" (PETA).
"Approximately 3 million to 4 million animals in the US and several thousand in the UK are euthanized in
shelters every year because prospective adopters chose to pay a puppy pimp instead of opening their
homes to a pound pup. Many puppies advertised for sale come from puppy mills, but buying from
"hobby" breeders isn't a good idea either, as it rewards them for adding another litter to the
overpopulation crisis." (PETA)
4. Do not keep exotic or undomesticated animals or wildlife as pets! Enjoy nature in your yard or environment,
but leave it where it is! NEVER remove an animal or creature from its habitat.
5. Get Outraged at the casual and apathetic treatment of animals and environment! You do not have to agree
with everything (though we wish you did), but if you do some browsing you will soon be disgusted by the
outright animal and environmental abuse that is going on in the world. GET OUTRAGED, and then DO
SOMETHING ABOUT IT!
6. Spay and neuter your pets! There is a severe pet overpopulation crisis, and already there are not enough
good homes for these animals.
7. Locally run animal shelters are often small and doing the best they can to provide care and compassion to
the large amount of animals in need. You can help them a great deal by even small donations.
The Plight of Birds - Cats
THE EFFECT OF CATS ON WILDLIFE
Many rehabilitators are frequently approached by people who tell them, somewhat abashedly, that their cats are constantly
bringing in birds. When it is suggested that here is something that a single individual can do to positively mitigate human impact
on wildlife, their eyes glaze over. While many cat owners may believe their pet cannot possibly have a significant impact just
because it hunts, the cumulative devastation of cat attacks on wildlife is substantial.
With many species in danger due to habitat loss, predation by house cats is yet one more hardship we humans impose on wild
animals already struggling to survive in our human-dominated world.
Yes, tropical forests are being cleared, wetlands are being destroyed, migratory birds are losing habitat along their entire
migration route, they are losing insect prey and even their own lives to pesticides... but much of that feels beyond our individual,
immediate ability to effect significantly. Limiting the toll that cats take on wildlife, however, is an action that is immediate and
effective on an individual basis.
The Migratory Bird Treaty Act protects native birds from being killed or kept by people. Any person who willfully allows his or her
cat to injure or kill migratory birds is, in effect, in violation of this federal law. While this may seem like an extreme interpretation,
the "sport" hunting of wild animals by our well-fed pet cats is a waste of life and a crime against our wildlife, at least ethically,
because it is preventable.
Consider the following:
1. In 1987, Peter Churcher and John Lawton asked the owners of cats in a Bedfordshire, England, village to keep any 'gifts'
brought to them by their cats; owners of 78 house cats participated (all but 1 cat owner in the village), with the researchers
extrapolating from these findings to estimate that the 5 million house cats in England were responsible for killing approximately
70 million animals each year, 20 million of which are birds. [PB Churcher and JH Lawton, 1987, "Predation by domestic cats in
an English (UK) village. Journal of Zoology. (London.) 212:439-455.]
2. A four-year study in rural Wisconsin by Coleman and Temple confirmed the UK findings; 30 cats, radio-collared for various
periods of time, led researchers to conclude that, in Wisconsin alone, cats may kill 19 million songbirds and some 140,000
game birds in a single year. The researchers focused on rural areas, where residents averaged more than 4 cats apiece,
working out to a density of 57 cats/sq mile. [JS Coleman and SA Temple, 1993. "Rural residents' free-ranging domestic cats: a
survey. Wildlife Society Bulletin 21: 381-390] In urban areas, however, cat populations can be more than 2,000 cats/sq mile.
[Marin Conservation League, Sept 1995 issue of the MCL News, "Is There a Fluffy Killer in Your Home?"] Temple, a professor of
wildlife ecology at the University of Wisconsin, also stated that house cats are probably the principal predator of birds and small
mammals in many areas of rural America. Using figures from Wisconsin and Illinois, he found that outdoor cats kill 47 million
rabbits a year - more than human hunters kill with guns. Temple points out that cats may also be the chief threat to some bird
populations, especially grassland birds (many of which are in decline already due to habitat loss.)
3. In Virginia, Dr. Joseph Mitchell, an ecologist at the University of Richmond, and his colleague, Dr. Ruth Beck, conducted
a study using their own cats. During the 11 months of their test, their 5 cats killed at least 187 animals, mostly small mammals.
Of special interest to the researchers was the impact on songbirds, which are in decline in the state - they conservatively
estimate that domestic cats each kill at least 26 birds each year in urban areas or 83 in rural areas, representing over 26 million
birds in Virginia alone. Mitchell says "The figures may be conservative, because the study only counted confirmed kills - not
cases in which cats ate their victims or left the bodies hidden." [JC Mitchell, 1992. "Free-ranging domestic cat predation on native
vertebrates in rural and urban Virginia." Virginia Journal of Science, Vol 43 (1B):107-207.]
4. Worldwide, cats may have been involved in the extinction of more bird species than any other cause, except habitat
destruction. Cats are contributing to the endangerment of populations of birds such as Burrowing Owls, Least Terns, Piping
Plovers and Loggerhead Shrikes. In Florida, marsh rabbits in Key West have been threatened by predation from domestic cats.
Cats introduced by people living on the barrier islands of Florida's coast have depleted several unique species of mice and
woodrats to near extinction. [Humphrey, S.R. and D.B. Barbour. 1981. "Status and habitat of three subspecies of Peromyscus
polionotus in Florida." Journal of Mammalogy 62:840-844. Gore, J.A. and T.L. Schaefer. 1993. "Cats, condominiums and
conservation of the Santa Rosa beach mouse." Abstracts of Papers Presented, Annual Meeting of the Society for Conservation,
Tucson, Arizona, June, 1993.]
5. Many humane societies and rehabilitation centers doing education, quote the following for a country-wide estimate of the
impact of owned cats on birds. Richard Stallcup of the Point Reyes Bird Observatory estimated that of the 55 million domestic
cats in the US, excluding Hawaii and Alaska, some 10% never go outside, and another 10% are too old or slow to catch anything.
Of the remaining 44 million, a conservative estimate is that 1 in 10 cats kills a bird a day - this would yield a daily toll of 4.4 million
birds - or 1.6 billion cat-killed birds in the US each year. ["Cats take a heavy toll on songbirds / A reversible catastrophe,"
Observer, Spring/Summer 1991, 18-29, Point Reyes Bird Observatory; Native Species Network, Vol 1 Issue 1, Fall 1995.]
Research has shown that rural cats, with more wildlife contact, kill many more, with the result that the feral cat population, most
of which is rural, has an even more significant impact on the bird population. Alley Cat Allies estimates that there are 60 million
feral cats in the United States. Combining feral and domestic cat predation, it is estimated that more than 3 billion birds are killed
6. Cat predation can also negatively impact our native predators, including raptors (hawks, falcons, and owls). A study in Illinois
concluded that cats were taking 5.5 million rodents and other vertebrates from a 26,000 square mile area, effectively depleting
the prey base necessary to sustain wintering raptors and other native predators. [WG George, 1974. "Domestic cats as predators
and factors in winter shortages of raptor prey." The Wilson Bulletin 86(4):384-396. O Liberg, 1984. 'Food habits and prey impact
by feral and house-based domestic cats in a rural area in southern Sweden." Journal of Mammalogy, 65(3): 424-432.]
7. Domestic cats have passed diseases (feline leukemia, distemper, and an immune deficiency disease) to wild populations of
felines, including the endangered Florida Panther. [Jessup, D.A., K.C. Pettan, L.J. Lowenstine and N.C. Pedersen. 1993. "Feline
leukemia virus infection and renal spirochetosis in free-ranging cougar (Felis concolor)." Journal of Zoo and Wildlife Medicine 24:
73-79. Roelke, M.E., D.J. Forester, E.R. Jacobson, G.V. Kollias, F.W. Scott, M.C. Barr, J.F. Evermann and E.C. Pirtel. 1993.
"Seroprevalence of infectious disease agents in free-ranging Florida panthers (Felis concolor coryi)." Journal of Wildlife
The impact of cats on native wildlife has been the topic of worldwide attention. A 1992 National Wildlife article by George
Harrison, "Is there a killer in your house?" (National Wildlife 30(6): 10-13), shows that even well-fed cats will hunt and discusses
the problems of people who want songbirds on their property but who refuse to acknowledge the impact of their free-ranging
cats. (And add into the equation of the dangers facing an outside cat the problem of them being injured or captured by a bird-
loving neighbor tired of them hunting the wildlife on HIS property.) Sherbrook Shire, near Melbourne, Australia, has imposed a
curfew on cats (Australia has suffered a severe decline in native mammals and some birds, in large part because of domestic
cats) - owners whose cats are out at night face a $100 fine. The University of Wisconsin Cooperative Extension office has
issued a bulletin authored by three biology, conservation, and extension professors, expressing concern over the impact of cats
on wildlife, making available (free of copyright) in print and over the Internet [John Coleman, Stanley Temple, Scott Craven, 1997,
"Cats and Wildlife - A Conservation Dilemma,' published by the University of Wisconsin Cooperative Extension Service, at http:
Animal intake data from many wildlife rehabilitation centers across the U.S. corroborate the toll of cat predation that the above
findings document. Overwhelmingly, cat predation (including cat attack cases and animals orphaned by cats) is the single
largest reason for admission to many wildlife centers, over car and window collisions, oil spills, pesticides, tree felling, and all
else. Unfortunately, the prognosis for recovery of cat attack victims is poor. Typically less than 10-20% survive. Necropsies of cat
attack victims admitted to wildlife rehabilitation centers reveal massive internal hemorrhaging and soft tissue damage from
crushing even when external damage appears minor. Also, even small puncture wounds expose the victim to over 60 types of
bacteria in cat saliva.
Perhaps the answers to some commonly asked questions about cats and wildlife will provide some ideas and solutions.
Q. Isn't hunting by cats natural?
A. While it may be "instinctive" for them to hunt, house cats are not native to North America and they cause imbalances in the
ecology of an area by killing so many native wild animals. By being at large at any time, day or night, they have an advantage over
native wild predators that tend to be either nocturnal or diurnal. Because their population numbers are artificially large due to
being kept as pets, cats are also far more common than the balance of nature would allow for native predator species, such as
fox or bobcat. Predators are supposed to be rare, not abundant, in nature. Normally, the population of prey species (i.e., the
amount of available food) determines the population of predators. With pets, who are not dependent on the animals they catch for
food, their numbers are dependent only on the area's human population.
Q. Will putting a bell on my cat's collar help?
A. A bell is not normally a sound birds would associate with danger. Although neighborhood adult birds may learn that the bell
sound of the local cat represents danger (assuming they escape initially), young birds and less common birds that are migrating
through your yard will still be at risk. Also, many cats are bright enough to figure out how to stalk silently even with a bell. Some
people have found that a 'rhinestone' collar that reflects light, as well as two bells or more, may help some - but there is no
solution better than keeping the cat under your control at all times.
Q. Aren't well-fed cats less of a threat to wildlife?
A. Because hunting is instinctive for cats, even well-fed cats still hunt. "Studies of housecats suggest that hunger and hunting are
controlled by different parts of a cat's brain. Hunting is a form of amusement for the cat, much as a dog enjoys chasing a stick."
(Guy Hodge, Humane Society of the United States, "Mitigating the Impact of Free-Ranging Cats on Wildlife," Proceedings of the
1995 International Wildlife Rehabilitation Council Conference, 1996.) A well-fed pet cat is apt to be more fit, and thus a more
successful hunter, than a feral cat that hunts to survive. By the same token, feral cat 'colonies' that are fed only amplifies the
devastation of having such a concentration of small predators.
Q. My cat just helps keep my yard free of mice or other small rodents. How can this be harmful?
A. Particularly in suburban/rural situations, the prey base for hawks and owls may be depleted, and this may have far-reaching
consequences. A study in Maryland found that Cooper's Hawks, which depend heavily on chipmunks to feed their young during
the nesting season, were forced to prey more on songbirds if chipmunks were eradicated. (Mosher, J. 1989. Status reports:
accipiters. In Proceedings of Northeast Raptor Mgmt. Symposium. Washington D.C.: National Wildlife Federation.) Not only did
this put additional pressure on the songbird population, but the increased hunting time and difficulty caused the hawks' nestling
survival rates to suffer. Similar population effects would arise from limiting the mouse population for the local screech owl or
Q. When are birds more at risk?
A. At any time during the nesting season (March through October), both adults, which are harried with nesting duties, try to defend
their young and are at risk. Often the female bird is taken while brooding her young on the nest, in which case the nestlings will
die of cold or starve to death, if they are not killed as well. Young birds still unable to fly well are at great risk. All birds are also at
risk at night, at any time of the year. Diurnal birds are night blind and if surprised while asleep are virtually helpless to escape a
cat attack. In addition, birds may be vulnerable at birdbaths and/or feeders, if there is low vegetation close by in which cats can
hide. Birds are most active in the early morning and at the very least, cats should thus be confined for the first few hours after
dawn and at night.
Q. Is there any way to protect birds from neighborhood cats at my feeder or birdbath?
A. Provide escape cover with brush piles and thorny shrubbery for the birds to fly into, but keep the ground clear under the feeder
or near the bath so that cats cannot hide within pouncing distance. In extreme situations, erecting a circle of 2' tall chicken wire
around a feeding station may be effective.
Q. I feel terrible that my cat hunts, but he is used to roaming outdoors and drives me crazy to go out. Can I train him to stay
A. It may be hard to break an adult cat of the urge to roam outdoors, but let your cat out as infrequently as possible, keep him
confined to your yard under your observation, and gradually increase his stays indoors. Having your cat spayed or neutered will
help as well. It's best not to let a cat roam outdoors to start with. A kitten which is not allowed to roam will not expect to do so as
an adult, and you will gain a loving pet for many more years. A cat that lives indoors has a long life expectancy. Cats that roam do
not. The outdoors is dangerous for cats, too! And your vet bills will be much lower without the risks of exposing your cat to cars,
cat fights and diseases, dogs, or larger predators.
Q. How else can I help?
A. Defend your backyard sanctuary against marauding cats. Fencing a yard helps. Repel intruding cats with spray from a garden
hose. Speak up in support of laws that prohibit cats from running at large on others' property.
All native birds (no matter how common!) are protected by state and/or federal law, as are many mammals. Certainly they
deserve the additional, so easily ensured protection from domestic cats. In Oregon, a dog chasing livestock can be put to death;
this is not so much out of consideration for the livestock as it is the fact that such animals are is deemed 'personal property' and
the owner's rights are thus imperiled by harm to them. Surely our wildlife merits at least an equivalent protection - not as
personal property but as a shared resource that both provides benefits for all of us.
For further references, see A bibliography of feral, stray, and free-roaming domestic cats in relation to wildlife conservation,
compiled by Ronald Jurek, April 1994, California Dept of Fish & Game, Nongame Bird and Mammal Program Report No. 94-5.
Thanks to Louise Shimmel of Cascades Raptor Center in Oregon for use of this article. Some portions of this article adapted
from "Cat Facts," a bulletin of the Ohio Wildlife Rehabilitators Association and "Cats and Wildlife - A Conservation Dilemma,'
published by the University of Wisconsin Cooperative Extension Service, at http://www.wisc.edu/wildlife/e-pubs.html
PLEASE KEEP CATS INDOORS!