- This topic has 5 replies, 5 voices, and was last updated by clive.
November 18, 2021 at 7:26 am #1127Miguel
I see lots of arguments in various social networks when the subject of cats damaging wildlife comes up. Very often insults are thrown and people lose control when talking about what “tickles” might be, and probably is, getting up to at night when he is out and about.
Anyway, to start things off I found this interesting article with many links for further information. It is quite a recent study from August 2020 and (for me anyway) and, although long, read puts things in perspective quite well.November 18, 2021 at 7:49 am #1128Rachel
I think that the main issue with all the fallouts and arguments on this subject is summed up in the first paragraphs of the article that you linked to Miguel.
As an interdisciplinary team of scientists and ethicists studying animals in conservation, we examined this claim and found it wanting. It is true that like any other predator, cats can suppress the populations of their prey. Yet the extent of this effect is ecologically complex.
The potential impact of cats differs between urban environments, small islands and remote deserts. When humans denude regions of vegetation, small animals are particularly at risk from cats because they have no shelter in which to hide.
Cat owners or non cat owners are normally NOT part of an interdisciplinary team of scientists and as such many of the comments one sees on social media are irrelevant as they talk about 1 or 2 individual cats and not the issue studied as a whole.
Habitat destruction by humans is the major cause of wildlife decline and of course in some environments this aids and abets the domestic and feral cats as mentioned in the article.November 18, 2021 at 7:55 am #1129Dave
Oh what an explosive topic! I have a cat and am a cat lover but I live in an apartment and he is neutered and never goes out. he’s my friend when I come home and I love him a lot! I can say that my cat since being born 6 years ago has had a zero impact on the local wildlife.
I think that the roots of this issue will always come back to human intervention and lack of ethics. certainly it is well known that wolf and lynx will not tolerate populations of feral cats in their territories and studies have shown that where there are apex predators there are low numbers of feral cats… Fox too will drive off cats and I once saw with my own eyes a mongoose kill and take a cat.
So it seems to me that more apex predators are needed but that wont happen until people start looking after their ecosystems.
Good article here about apex predators controlling cat populations.
Living the dream!November 18, 2021 at 8:09 am #1130clive
Oh Miguel! 🙂 I reckon this subject will be ok here although I too have seen a fair amount of insults going back and forth on various social networks.
I have two cats. The reason I got them was that when we moved into our country house it was infested (and I mean infested) with rats. They were in the walls, roof, outbuilding, under the floors and in the kitchen. (the house is old and wasn’t lived in for a long time)
I saw them climbing up to a swallows nest and eating the eggs so I know that too many rats can do damage to wildlife as well.
This study that was linked to from Miguels post is fascinating. Talks about removing cats can create an even worse problem for local wildlife. Well worth a read.
The cats in my case controlled the rat population within a few months. Still plenty of rats but not a plague. They also preyed on insects such as grasshopper, very few but about 6 birds (that I know about) and a lot of voles. Also preyed on lizards and sometimes a snake. They definately had an impact but there are still good populations of all the above creatures mentioned and also many more birds nests than before. (beacuse of less rats)
We have moved to a village house now and the cats are indoor cats so they could be classed as retired.
November 18, 2021 at 8:21 am #1131Helen
This abstract is interesting as well!
Some conservationists believe that free‐ranging cats pose an enormous risk to biodiversity and public health and therefore should be eliminated from the landscape by any means necessary. They further claim that those who question the science or ethics behind their arguments are science deniers (merchants of doubt) seeking to mislead the public.
As much as we share a commitment to conservation of biodiversity and wild nature, we believe these ideas are wrong and fuel an unwarranted moral panic over cats. Those who question the ecological or epidemiological status of cats are not science deniers, and it is a false analogy to compare them with corporate and right‐wing special interests that perpetrate disinformation campaigns over issues, such as smoking and climate change.
There are good conservation and public‐health reasons and evidence to be sceptical that free‐ranging cats constitute a disaster for biodiversity and human health in all circumstances. Further, there are significant and largely unaddressed ethical and policy issues (e.g., the ethics and efficacy of lethal management) relative to how people ought to value and coexist with cats and native wildlife.
Society is better served by a collaborative approach to produce better scientific and ethical knowledge about free‐ranging cats.
Breathe and try to be nice to people 🙂November 22, 2021 at 11:29 am #1142clive
There is a study running in Spain now asking people to upload images of the prey that domestic or feral cats catch… Details and upload form here. https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSddxxTHMI9cgu5gb_s73doxAY2TzGAbWnReYtt0hsA7fjr-xw/viewform
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