UR Opinion

Cats-An Environmental Hazard

Alan Farquhar

By Alan Farquhar

Most Animal lovers are cat lovers, but not all cat lovers are animal lovers.
Cats are the decathletes of the animal kingdom. There are smarter, larger, faster, stronger animals, but there are no animals that put the whole package together in such an efficient form. That is what makes cats such effective killers. It is also what makes it necessary to prevent free roaming domestic and feral cats.
There have been several studies on the effects of cats on bird populations in both North America and Europe. First of all it is important to know that small cats are not a natural part of the ecosystem. Studies in England estimated that the 5 million cats in England were responsible for killing 20 million birds each year. A Wisconsin, USA study estimated 19 million songbirds and 140,000 game birds are killed in Wisconsin alone. The University of Richmond estimated 26 million birds are killed in Virginia each year. Estimates are that 6.4 million birds are killed in Vancouver alone
These numbers sound astronomical but when you consider that there are 50 to 70 million cats owned and possibly the same number of feral cats in the USA and likely a similar proportion per person in Canada and knowing what effective killers they are these numbers no longer sound out of line. Now with more and more habitat being lost and with more people and cats it is now important to restrict the activities of these pets
There are also compelling reasons to not let your cat wander freely: 1. You or your child will not be faced with finding Fluffy squashed on the road outside your house. 2. Fluffy will not be eaten by other animals (google coywolf). 3 Your cat will not be poisoned accidentally or intentionally. 4. Your cat will not come home with diseases and infections from encounters with local animals or other cats. 5. Fluffy will not come home with uninvited guests like fleas, ticks, worms and other parasites. 6. And Fluffy will not become an object of torture as often seen on the internet these days.
Four things are needed to solve the problem of cat predation on birds.1. Local regulations that licence and regulate cat behaviour the same way we do dogs. Dogs are not allowed to wander the streets because they are threats to people, other animals and property just as cats are. 2. A municipal government that is concerned about environmental issues and not just the economic ones. 3. Local animal welfare groups that are concerned about all wildlife and not just focused on cats and dogs and are willing to actively support bird welfare regulations. 4. Local residents that are willing to assist with controlling their own cats and eliminating feral cats

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