Is Your Kitty a Threat to the Environment?
Are you harboring a cold blooded serial killer in your home? Well if you own a cat than the answer is yes. We all know that cats kill birds – but apparently it has become a major environmental issue in recent years. Maybe the increase in feral cat populations have played a part or more people have welcomed them into their homes, but whatever the case, it has prompted economist Gareth Morgan to rally against kitties with his campaign “Cats Need to Go“.
According to Morgan, New Zealand’s goal to be “predator-free” is flawed since about half of the New Zealand population owns a cat (or two) making them the biggest feline lovers in the world. Morgan wants to make sure cat owners are aware that Mr.Fluffy is by no means “innocent” – they are natural born killers. His campaign “Cats Need to Go” doesn’t call for the killing of cats (although he says this “might be an option”) but just to simply not replace them once they die, out of consideration for threatened fauna.
Morgan has initiated a website where he wants people to consider making their current cat their last one. Some statistics he uses to plead his case on why “cats need to go” are below:
- Cats have contributed to the extinction of 9 native bird species in New Zealand.
- Cats impact 33 endangered native bird species in the region.
- One feral cat kills 102 native short tailed bats in one week.
- Around 40% of native land birds are already extinct in New Zealand, 37% of the remaining are endangered.
Morgan says that kitties murder native birds faster than they can breed. His proposed solution may seem extreme, but a recent study performed by Nature’s Communication found that cats kill somewhere between 1.4 billion to as many as 3.7 billion birds in the continental U.S. each year. In addition, the study also says that from 6.9 billion to as many as 20.7 billion mammals — mainly mice, shrews, rabbits and voles — are killed by cats annually in the contiguous 48 states.
“Our findings suggest that free-ranging cats cause substantially greater wildlife mortality than previously thought and are likely the single greatest source of anthropogenic mortality for U.S. birds and mammals,” Marra and his co-authors conclude. “Scientifically sound conservation and policy intervention is needed to reduce this impact.”
But cat defenders are speaking out saying that the Trap-Neuter-Return policy is an effective way to protect birds without killing cats. They also claim that “humans are the real threat” by means of fertilizers, incesticides and collisions with man made objects.
Here are some simple tips to help reduce the impact your cat has on the environment that you can start today:
Get your cat a jingly bell and add a name tag to give it a little extra ring. This will help alert birds when your cat is attempting to stalk them.
Consider keeping your cat indoors for part or most of the day.
Try the Cat Bib which is known for reducing bird deaths by 80%!
Get your cat neutered or spayed.
The American Bird Conservancy encourages that kitty owners keep their pets indoors - particularly through the spring.
What do you think of Morgan’s recommendation? Is this just a case of a disgruntled cat hater or a justified act of philanthropie?
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