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This deserves a response....

post #1 of 15
Thread Starter 

Please read this and be prepared to be angered...also...you can write her a nice letter like I did..

Most feral cats do not even go for birds because they
are more difficult to catch than your average rat or
mole or yes...even a rabbit. Ok...so if it isn't the
feral cat's that are decimated the birds..what are:

What Kills Birds? Curry & Kerlinger, LLC. Curry &
Kerlinger, LLC (consultants to the Wind Power industry
on birds and other wildlife issues) have compiled data
that indicate the following statistics regarding
annual bird deaths.

Glass Windows. Bird Deaths a year: 100 to 900+
million - Dr. Daniel Klem of MuhlenbergCollege has
done studies over a period of 20 years, looking at
bird collisions with windows. His conclusion: glass
kills more birds than any other human related factor.
Hunting. Bird Deaths a year: 100 + million -
According to the U.S. Fish and Wildife Service, more
than 100 million ducks, geese, swans, doves,
shorebirds, rails, cranes, among others are harvested
legally each year.
House Cats: 100 million - (though we take issue with
the studies that provide this conclusion. Please see
our article “Feral Cat Predation Examined,†by
Christine O’Keefe, PhD, above).
Automobiles & Trucks. Bird Deaths a year: 50 to 100
Million - Scientists estimate the number of birds
killed by cars and trucks on the nation's highways to
be 50 to 100 million a year. Those statistics were
cited in reports published by the National Institute
for Urban Wildlife and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
Electric Transmission Lines. Bird Deaths a year:up to
174 million - Estimates made by the U.S. Fish and
Wildife Service demonstrate millions of birds die each
year as a result of colliding with transmission lines.
Agriculture (Pesticides). Bird Deaths a year: 67
million - Pesticides likely poison an estimated 67
million birds per year according to the Smithsonian
Institution. Cutting hay may kill up to a million more
birds a year.
CommunicationTowers. Bird Deaths a year: 4 to 10
million - U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service estimates
that bird collisions with tall, lighted communications
towers, and their guy wires result in 4 to 10 million
bird deaths a year.
Oil and Gas Extraction. Bird Deaths a year: 1 to 2
million - The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service reports
that up to 2 million birds died landing in oil pits to
bathe and drink in 1997. Fish and Wildlife says
netting has improved that situation somewhat. There
are no overall estimates for the number of birds
affected by oil and gas spills, and oil and gas
extractions (and transport.)

(When exactly are you going to go after the window
deaths or the oil extraction or even the hunters??)


Notice that not once on this list is a feral cat

I would love to see your evidence that trapping and
euthanizing is working because the last time I
checked..there was absolutely zero studies that showed
that trapping and euthanizing worked. That is why an
alternative was needed..and TNR is the only logical
and humane alternative.

post #2 of 15
Thanks for that link-I think this person needs to be politely educated about TNR (and about declawing-her article seems to suggest that declawing was banned in Hollywood so that cats can kill birds. It was banned because it's a cruel and inhumane surgery that amputates the ends of the cats "fingers"). And thank you for citing my Predation article, and providing a link to Stray Pet Advocacy. This is the type of situation that Laurie, Heidi, Kass and I wanted to provide information and education for.
post #3 of 15
Let me add that catching a bird is a LOT more effort than catching mice and voles. A true feral cat is not going to expend additional effort on catching something when there's easier prey out there.

My observation of the ferals around here is that yes, they do catch the occasional bird, but the mice/vole/field rat catches FAR exceed these. For the ferals that consistently stay by my place, they now predominantly hunt the allusive food bowl and don't bother with hunting very often.
post #4 of 15
There haven't been studies accurate enough to actually document this, but being that cats are opportunistic feeders, and through unstructured observation it is actually believed that the birds that cats kill are often already injured.

I don't have the time now, but I will write a note to this person too. That's also what we're about.

And like Christy (okeefecl) said - thank you for citing Stray Pet Advocacy. That is EXACTLY what we're there for!
post #5 of 15
Thread Starter 
Ms. Raskin,
> With all due respect to your statistics -- and for
> the sake of argument, I will take them as valid --
> they do not really change my argument. My figure
> estimating the number of birds killed by feral cats
> in rural Wisconsin alone, dwarfs your various
> numbers.
> You do point out some real problems for birds,
> namely windows. I should mention that in a future
> column.
> Thanks for writing.
> Froma Harrop

My response:

Here is my retort to your Wisconsin study (posted on
Best Friends site):

Predation is the most controversial issue surrounding
feral cats and it has proved tempting to extrapolate
small studies performed elsewhere to the entire state
of Florida. Unfortunately, such estimates are usually
based on models that have not undergone peer review by
the scientific community. This is the case with the
most commonly cited predation data from Wisconsin.
Although the authors Temple and Coleman never
published their findings in a scientific journal, they
did publish another report in which the size of cat
populations on Wisconsin farms was studied. The only
factor affecting the size of these cat populations was
the practice of sterilization, which, as expected,
resulted in smaller numbers of free-roaming cats. Even
the FWC report acknowledges that it is unproductive to
engage in a debate about the magnitude of the impact
of feral cats on wildlife absent much needed
scientific study. Cats have been blamed for damage to
wildlife only later to be vindicated when anecdotal
observations were studied with more scrutiny. For
example, regarding sea turtle losses, the FWC report
states, “...depredation by foxes and raccoons has a
more significant impact in Florida and depredation by
cats should be viewed as occasional, with little
consequences for sea turtle populations.†Despite
this, the FWC continues to list turtles as a species
decimated by cats. Other examples include a die-off of
songbirds that was eventually linked to Salmonella
contamination of improperly cleaned backyard bird
feeders, and quail losses that were ultimately proved
to be due to a change in park landscaping and not due
to feral cats fed in the park. In the Castillo study
of more than 80 cats over 1 year, 2 birds were
observed to be caught by cats during 11,600 minutes of
observation. This is a far cry from the predictions
extrapolated from the Wisconsin studies. These few
examples demonstrate the need for more study before
sweeping policy changes are made. In fact, the FWC
report says it best, “Data are not available to
accurately assess the long-term impact of cat
predation on wildlife populations in Florida. As
indicated above, the precision and accuracy of cat
population data are unknown. In addition, we do not
know current population levels or rates of mortality
and productivity for most wildlife species. Thus, it
is seldom possible to know whether predation by cats
represents a significant impact to wildlife
populations.†This is a strong statement in the FWC
report that should urge caution when policy decisions
are undertaken.


There is a misconception throughout the wildlife and
even the feral cat groups that we are working on
mutually exclusive endevours...when as I see it...we
are working towards a common goal...reduction of the
feral cat population. Where the main disagreement
occurs is how to best handle the sheer number of feral
cats that are estimated to be living throughout the
USA. Trapping and killing has not worked...there
isn't a single study that shows that it accomplishes
what it sets out to do. All it does is allow other
cats to move in and reproduce and continue the cycle.
Trapping and placing into sanctuaries at this point is
an unresonable request because there isn't the funding
nor the land to hold 60 million cats. So what is
left?? TNR...it isn't ideal, but it is the most
humane way to deal with the feral cat population...and
it is working. Take a moment to read these success


Additionally, those of us that want to see these cats
dealt with humanely would also like to see less
"domesticated" cats "outdoors". There is soo much
evidence that indoor only domesticated cats live
better lives and are less likely to get hurt or lost
or even killed...so those are great motivators to have
an "indoor" only cat. If we can get those cats
indoors..then we can begin to address the other
concern regarding "feral" cats living "outdoors". The
idea of TNR is to trap, neuter, take the kittens and
tame cats to be adopted and return the truly feral
cats back to the colony (thus reducing the chance for
newcomers). These colonies are ideally watched by a
caretaker who feeds the cats and provides adequate
shelter. They would also be looking for new cats as
well as injuries to the existing colony. These feral
cats should be fewer in number and should be fed by
feeding stations as opposed to going after birds. The
problem is...groups aren't working together to see if
these now "well" fed and well managed colonies are in
fact killing birds..that is the research that is
needed. If that is indeed the case (and I haven't
read any studies that really consider the caretaker
colonies)...then a group of individuals (experts)
should get together to try to come up with solutions
that help both ferals and wildlife.

We ARE trying to address the wildlife concerns...but
we as people who understand that feral cats are
nothing more than domesticated cats that have had to
fend for themselves and thus do not trust
humans...require as much understanding of their plight
as well as the songbirds do. I would hope we could
work together to find viable solutions...that work in
conjuction with TNR towards a day when we have a
manageable number of feral cats...but with 60 million
(and let's be honest...we just don't know how many
there actually are)..the focus has been to try to get
more groups involved in getting the feral cats under
control via TNR...as more and more groups become
involved and the more cats are fixed...we do make
progress. As we work on getting the cats fixed and
getting the word out that domesticated cats indoors is
the way to go...perhaps you can provide guidance to
help us with our goals. Help us to get less cats
"dumped"...help us to educate the public about indoor
cats...do not blame the victim who is merely trying to
live. Please contact the wild cats link so that your
voice and opinion can be heard:


post #6 of 15
Well, let's see if she responds to my letter. Here it is:

Dear Ms. Harrop:

I am a Senior Vice President of Equity Research at a mid-sized brokerage firm based in New York. Our customers are Institutions, that is to say, professional money managers that manage money for States, mutual funds, large brokerage firms, hedge funds, etc. I have 16 years of experience. I start this note with my credentials, for I feel it is important that you understand that I conduct research for a living, and given that I work for a mid-sized firm, my customer base should be a good indicator that I'm good at what I do. My Partner (my husband) and I are often quoted in respected financial papers and journals, and our unique style of conducting business was featured by the Association of Investment Management and Research, the most respected professional organization in our business.

After 9/11/00, my husband and I found ourselves required to be near the NY area (as opposed to the travelling we usually did) for business. We relocated to a rural farming area in Northern New Jersey. The property on which we lived, as it turned out, had a terrible feral cat problem. Being trained to do so, before making a decision about what to do about the cats, we researched the problem. After conducting extensive research, we came to very different conclusions than you did.

We found that on college campuses, towns and cities across this country, many communities are effectively implementing trap-neuter-return programs. You state in your article, "These trap-neuter-return (TNR) programs won't dent the cat population explosion — worsened as abandoned farms turn into forest habitat and more Americans move into rural areas," yet you provide no basis for this conclusion. I would like to address this.

1) Trap-and-remove other than in completely isolated environments does not work. The failure of trap-and-kill programs in the United States is what has resulted in the feral pet problem in the United States. Trap-and-kill has been the primary method of animal control in this country since animal control came into existence. The advent of trap-neuter-return has its basis in the failure of trap and kill programs. The fact of the matter is, trap-and-kill programs are not practical, are expensive, and in the end, do not work. In a well-researched article, “Feral Cats – Extermination is not the Answer” (©1994, 1995, 2000, 2002), Sarah Hartwell cites the example of Marion Island, a small “inhospitable” island (12 miles x 8 miles) off the coast of South Africa. In 1949, a group of scientists left the island, leaving behind five unsterilized cats. By 1975 there were 2,500 cats on the island preying on ground-nesting seabirds. Deliberate infection with feline enteritis killed about 65% of the cats. The remaining 35% developed immunity and continued to breed. Jack Russell terrier dogs were used to flush out the remaining cats, and between 1986 and 1989 further cats were exterminated by hunting. At that time, it was determined that further poisoning was necessary. Poison that also killed the birds was used to eliminate the balance of the cat population. No cats were seen in 1991. It took 16 years to eradicate 2,500 isolated cats from a small island with “rapid” methods of eradication that could not be used in populated areas. How can euthanization be successful as a method of animal control anywhere that new animals can move in and recolonize cleared areas? This is the crux of the problem with feral cats in non-isolated areas. According to a study published in the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association, Volume 203, Number 3, August 1, 1993, trap-and-removal programs do not work because "the presence of feral cats in a place indicates an ecologic niche for approximately that number of cats; the permanent removal of cats from a niche will create a vacuum that then will be filled through migration from outside or through reproduction within the colony, by an influx of a similar number of feral cats that are usually sexually intact; and removal of cats from an established feral colony increased the population turnover, but does not decrease the number of cats in the colony." ("Neutering of Feral Cats as an Alternative to Eradication Programs," Karl I. Zaunbrecher, DVM, and Richard E. Smith, DVM, MP).

In fact, according to the Feral Cat Coalition based in San Diego, since implementing a TNR program, the number of cats impounded and killed was 50% lower after five years. The reduction in the trap and kill rate was achieved with an adoption rate from shelters that remained constant and despite area (human) population growth. Prior to the implementation of TNR, the rate of cats impounded and killed was rising at a 15% annual rate. TNR works, and if you require further examples, I can provide many of them.

2) You apparently are not aware that trap-neuter-return programs include continued maintenance of the colonies. You state, "But sending cats back out into nature? Awful idea. A sterilized cat may not be able to produce more drifters, but he still has an appetite." Yes, cats must eat, and cats are hunters. Fundamental to the success of TNR programs is continued care of the feral cats. They are fed, their health is monitored, and they are vaccinated. And most importantly, after being spayed or neutered they are RETURNED to where they were taken, not just "released." As I addressed citing research (above), the removal of cats from established (unmonitored, wild, and sexually intact) colonies simply increases the population turnover, it does not decrease the number of cats in a colony. Yes - hunting is part of a cat's genetic coding, but cats are opportunistic feeders (Berkely, Ellen Perry. 2001. Maverick Cats: Encounters with Feral Cats. Revised and Updated. Shelburne, Vermont.: The New England Press ), "providing them with a readily available food source as a part of a TNR program will reduce any effect they have on their traditional prey species," (O'Keefe, Christine L. PhD. 2003. "Feral Cat Predation and Its Effect on Wildlife - Searching for the Truth." www.straypetadvocacy.org).

3) You cite the University of Wisconsin study in your article, but apparently you are unfamiliar with the probems of cat predation studies as you do not mention in your article any of the problems with the extrapolatons used by these studies or by people using these studies. You state, "University of Wisconsin researchers estimate that free-roaming cats kill 217 million birds a year in rural Wisconsin alone." In the article cited above (O'Keefe, 2003), Dr. O'Keefe does address the problems of cat predations studies:

"The findings of cat predation studies are often extrapolated to determine the number of prey killed by the cats of a state or a nation. For example, the American Bird Conservancy reported that a study in England found that the British cat population was killing at least 300 million prey animals a year (American Bird Conservancy). However, the original study does not support these claims. In the study, the catches and kills of 986 cats across Great Britain (except Ireland and the Channel Islands) were compiled over a 5 month period, and it was determined that the mean number of prey caught and killed was 11.3 during the study period (Woods, McDonald, and Harris). This study, like many of its kind, has several potential problems. First, study participants were recruited in part from members of the Mammal Society. Since this is a conservation organization, a portion of the respondents most likely were concerned with conservation and extinction, a fact the authors of the study readily admit. The study recorded the number of prey brought home by the cats assuming that these equaled kills by the cats. However, cats are opportunistic feeders and a portion of the prey brought home may have been already dead, which was not taken into account in the final analysis. Of 696 cats, 91% brought home at least one prey animal. This is contradictory to many other studies, which found that 35-56% of cats hunt (Fougere, 2000; Perry 1999; Reark, 1994). Once again, the authors acknowledge this point. Additionally, feline predation is not constant during the course of the year. Since the study was limited to only 5 months, the findings may have been skewed by studying the cats during their most active hunting period during the year. But most striking, and most important for the discussion of extrapolation, is a comment the authors themselves made: “Our estimates of the total numbers of animals brought home by cats throughout Britain should be treated with requisite caution and these figures do not equate to an assessment of the impact of cats on wildlife populations.” Sadly, comments like these made by the researchers themselves are often ignored by groups who use and abuse these studies to prove cats are the major cause of prey species decline....It is important to note that cats and their prey species have coexisted for hundreds if not thousands of years. If feline predation has such a negative impact, as the British study suggests, then birds and other small vertebrates would have become extinct long ago (Mead, C.J. 1982. Ringed birds killed by cats. Mammal Reviews. 12:183-186.)."

Addressing the University of Wisconsin study specifically, in an article published in the Journal of American Veterinary Medical Association (January 15, 1998), Dr. Gary Petronek states (as Dr. O'Keefe points out that the authors of the studies themselves admit) that "the extrapolation of the mean number of prey caught from small studies of nonrandomly selected cats to larger units of the cat population is problematic, and likely to yield imprecise estimates." In short, serious researchers have serious problems with the conclusion of the Wisconsin study, and the validity of those numbers should be hotly debated and are likely far from correct.

The real culprits of bird deaths are man. Urban sprawl (tall glass buildings), loss of the environment, pesticides, hunting, cell, TV and radio towers, electric transmission lines, trucks and automobiles etc. are responsible for a combined 500 million to in excess of 1 billion birds each year, according numbers provided by the research of Dr. Daniel Klem of Muhlenberg College, the Smithsonian, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, and the National Institute for Urban Wildlife, as provided by Curry & Kerlinger LLC ( http://www.currykerlinger.com/birds.htm ). Realistic estimates of bird death estimates by cat predation, according to information provided by Curry & Kerlinger, are more in the range of 4 - 7 million per year, which, coincidentally, works with estimates of the domestic cat population and the percentages of cats that hunt.

4) Finally, I think you are either misinformed or uninformed regarding the issues of cat declawing. You state "There are hopeless battles, as well. The City Council of West Hollywood voted last spring to bar pet owners from declawing cats. (Correction: There are no pet "owners" in West Hollywood, only "guardians," due to another law passed two years ago.) These claws, courtesy of the cat's sabertooth ancestors, help Boots and Fluffy ravage the bird population." Based upon these comments, it would seem that you believe that declawing should be supported by defenders of wildlife. The issue of cat declawing, which I have also addressed with extensive research, is one of humane treatment of animals.

“A 1994 study by the Department of Veterinary Clinical Sciences at Washington State University College of Veterinary Medicine found that of 163 cats who were declawed, 50 percent had one or more complications immediately after surgery, such as pain, hemorrhage, lameness, swelling, and non-weight bearing. Of the 121 cats whose progress was followed after surgery, 20 percent had continued complications, such as infection, regrowth, bone protrusion into the pad of the paw and prolonged intermittent lameness and palmagrade stance (abnormal standing posture).

”Seventy percent (70%) of cats turned into pounds and shelters for behavioral problems are declawed cats.” (“Clawed for Life,” ©1997-2003 by www.sniksnak.com ).

The “declawing” of a cat is toe amputation, and it is painful and traumatic for both cat and owner. Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Denmark, England, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Netherlands, New Zealand, Northern Ireland, Norway, Portugal, Scotland, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and Wales have all banned declawing except in the case of medical necessity. It is illegal in these countries because they have determined that “declawing” is inhumane and an unnecessary mutilation. “Declawing” makes us think that we are removing our cats’ claws, which most of us think of as simply a form of toenail. This is not the case. Declawing is, in fact, partial toe amputation. Even the position of the American Veterinary Association is that the "Declawing of domestic cats should be considered only after attempts have been made to prevent the cat from using its claws destructively or when its clawing presents a zoonotic risk for its owner(s)."

In fact, the AVMA goes so far as to say: "The AVMA believes it is the obligation of veterinarians to provide cat owners with complete education with regard to feline onychectomy. " The AVMA believes that:

1. Scratching is a normal feline behavior, is a means for cats to mark their territory both visually and with scent, and is used for claw conditioning ("husk" removal) and stretching activity.

2. Owners must provide suitable implements for normal scratching behavior. Examples are scratching posts, cardboard boxes, lumber or logs, and carpet or fabric remnants affixed to stationary objects. Implements should be tall or long enough to allow full stretching, and be firmly anchored to provide necessary resistance to scratching. Cats should be positively reinforced in the use of these implements.

3. Appropriate claw care (consisting of trimming the claws every 1 to 2 weeks) should be provided to prevent injury or damage to household items.

4. Surgical declawing is not a medically necessary procedure for the cat in most cases.....The surgical alternative of tendonectomy is not recommended.

The current legislative proposals in West Hollywood, San Francisco, Malibu and the State of California are there because "declawing" is not the removal of the claw, but the partial amputation of the toe, and while the position of the AVMA is that studies do not show that there are a statistically signficant number of cats with subsequent behavior problems - there are studies that indicate there are continued health and welfare problems for many cats. If you would like further information and research on this subject, I would be happy to provide it to you.

In conclusion, I would like to say that research supports using low-cost spay-neuter programs and trap-neuter-release programs for effective animal control. These programs have literally saved tax-payers millions of dollars in in the cities that have implemented them the first year of program implementation alone. For some well-informed people who have researched the issues, the issue of feral cat management is not an issue of heart-strings, it is a practical matter of saving tax dollars. The humane benefit to the cats is simply a side-affect.

If you require any further information, please feel free to contact me.

Sincerely yours,


post #7 of 15
...there were a couple of typos in the above letter that got fixed before being sent....
post #8 of 15
Laurie! What a great letter-you touched on all the issues I had problems with. Check your email!

Hopefully this will get a more...reasonable response (gee, don't confuse me with facts when my mind is made up!)
post #9 of 15
I just want to say how very impressed I am with each of your very well written and well researched letters. It is so impressive to see letters written in a logical and persuasive manner rather than with the rants and hostile hysteria that often come from people with passionate beliefs. Bravo to all of you!
post #10 of 15
WAIT until you see Christy's letter! She found a quote from the author of the Wisconsin study himself.

Renae - this was part of the whole point of SPA (Stray Pet Advocacy), and the research is there for ALL to use.

post #11 of 15
Here is my letter, to go out tomorrow...

I am a Research Associate at a large research hospital. I received my Ph.D. in Genetics from Case Western Reserve University in 1999. Although I am primarily trained as a bench (i.e. hands-on) scientist, a large part of my graduate and post-doctoral training has been in critically reading and analyzing published studies. A research scientist cannot exist in a vacuum, and must be able to read and analyze the current literature to help shape and direct their research path. Also, this skill comes in handy when reviewing articles submitted for publication in peer-reviewed journals and when writing critical reviews of the current literature, two tasks that are expected of any modern researcher and two tasks I have accomplished. This training has not only served me as a scientist, but has also served me as a cat owner and an advocate for feral cats.

Two years ago, I adopted a stray cat. In order to be the best owner I could, I went online and did research to find information on cats and their care. While doing this, I was exposed to the problems that feral cats face. Through my research, I have found that there are many questions revolving around feral cats, but that none of these have been adequately addressed.

The problem of abandoned and unowned companion animals in the US has reached crisis proportions. It is a complex situation, with complex causes and even more complex solutions. Ultimately, education of the public is key in addressing this issue. In your column of Oct. 16, 2003, entitled “Let the cat fur flyâ€, you presented a very one-sided and biased view of the feral cat situation. To the reading public, who in general are unaware of the feral cat situation, it appears that judgement has already been passed on feral cats and that they have been found guilty. However, it is far from resolved and many questions remain about many of the issues you raised.

Cat predation and its supposed impact on wildlife populations are frequently used as an argument against TNR (trap/neuter/return, not release as is stated in the column) programs. However, there is no strong and unambiguous evidence to support this fact. I recently wrote a review of the cat predation question, “Feral Cat Predation and It’s Effect on Wildlife-Searching for the Truth†(http://www.straypetadvocacy.org/html..._reviewed.html), analyzing published studies (both pro- and anti-cat) for the website Stray Pet Advocacy (www.straypetadvocacy.org) In this review I found that evidence supporting the large impact of cat predation on wildlife does not exist. In fact, many of the major articles cited by conservation groups to support the effect of feral cat predation on wildlife species do not support this view. I discuss one such study in my review, where the authors clearly state that their findings should not be extrapolated to the whole of England, although many conservation groups have ignored this warning from the authors. Additionally, the Wisconsin study you cited is extremely problematic. It has never been published, so it is impossible to critically evaluate the findings in the study and it is impossible to support (or refute) the numbers that are so readily quoted by anti-cat groups. However, I did find a quote by one of the authors of the study, Dr. Stanley Temple, which suggests the findings are being taken out of context: “Dr. Stanley Temple, co-author of this frequently quoted work, seemed exasperated when asked again to rehash his findings. ‘The media has had a field day with this since we started,’ he sighed. ‘Those figures were from our proposal. They aren’t actual data; that was just our projection to show how bad it might be.’ No one interviewed has seen Temple’s unpublished results†(http://www.stanford.edu/group/CATNET...rstd_pred.html). To cite these numbers as actual fact, when the author himself states “They aren’t actual data†is extremely misleading and in fact incorrect. An interesting contrast to these frequently cited studies is “The Alternative Cat Predation Survey†by Sarah Hartwell, copyrighted 2002 (members.aol.com/moggycat/affy_16.html), which shines a humorous and critical light on such studies.

Second, you state that TNR programs don’t reduce the feral cat population. This is incorrect. There are many studies of established and managed feral cat colonies that demonstrate a reduction in the population of the colonies. From a financial standpoint, TNR programs are cheaper than trap/eradicate programs. For example, in Orange County, Florida, 2,228 cats were sterilized and released back to managed colonies from December 1995 to May 1998, instead of being euthanized. The county saved $109,172 (Alley Cat Allies). Also, there are many studies that document that trap/eradicate programs do not reduce cat populations (including Zaunbrecher, K. and R. Smith, 1993, “Neutering of Feral Cats as an Alternative to Eradication Programsâ€, Journal of American Veterinary Medical Association, 203â€449-453)). In 1992 in South Western Australia, 175 feral cats were shot and killed in a 10 square kilometer area. The Australian army shot 400 cats in the same area in three days, and had to return to kill 200 more a few weeks later (“The Great Australian Cat Dilemmaâ€, Sarah Hartwell, members.iinet.net.au/~rabbit/catdeb.htm). Removing feral cat colonies can also have unintended consequences. When cats were killed in four Australian rubbish dumps (usually every six months), the rodent population grew with the increased risk of disease and predation (“The Great Australian Cat Dilemmaâ€, Sarah Hartwell, members.iinet.net.au/~rabbit/catdeb.htm). There is also the chance of “mesopredator releaseâ€: when a super-predator (such as cats) is eradicated, other smaller predators (such as rats) may emerge and cause just as much damage to wildlife species (Fougere, B. 2000 “Cats and wildlife in the urban environment-a reviewâ€. UAM conference proceedings. http://www.ava.com.au/content/confer...00/fougere.htm)

Additionally, the statement by Stephen W. Kress may be heartfelt but implies that feral cat advocates do not care for wildlife. Feral cat advocates are simply making the point that species loss is a very large and complex problem, and that blaming cats is ignoring other issues, including the very real and very significant impact human activity has on wildlife.

Perhaps most misleading is the inclusion of the declawing debate in a column about feral cats. The impression that the reader is left with is that West Hollywood banned declawing to allow cats to hunt. Declawing was banned because it is a cruel and inhumane surgery that involves amputation of the cat’s toes to the first knuckle, and not removal of the claws as many perceive. Because declawing is so painful, it is frequently used as a source of pain in studies of animal pain treatment. Many countries, including Great Britain, Ireland, Northern Northern Ireland, Scotland, France, Germany, Australia and Israel ban declawing. Declawing and the controversy surrounding it has nothing to do with feral cats, except to blacken the image of cat lovers.

The simple fact is that there is no evidence to support the claim that feral cats are decimating wildlife species. In contrast, there is a preponderance of evidence implicating humans and human activity in the loss of species. Yet time and time again, feral cats are made the scapegoats for what ultimately boils down to a human-caused problem. I agree with Gary J. Patronek, VDM, Ph.D. in a Letter to the Editor published in the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association (Vol. 209, No. 10, November 15, 1996): “What I find inconsistent in an otherwise scientific debate about biodiversity is how indictment of cats has been pursued almost in spite of the evidence.†It is time to stop blaming other species for wildlife loss and time to start taking a very hard look at ourselves.

Thank you,
Christine L. O’Keefe, Ph.D.
post #12 of 15

Christy - IT'S FABULOUS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I don't know if you've sent it already or not, but this afternoon you mentioned you wanted feedback . I wouldn't change a word of it. It's perfect.

post #13 of 15
I agree Christy! It is wonderful just the way it is.

I have to echo what Renae already said. I am SO impressed with the quality of these letters. I mean, these are not letters that this commentator can dismiss as from "crazy-cat-ladies". These are well researched and thought out arguments. I applaud all of you!
post #14 of 15
Thread Starter 
I love both the letters and they were extremely well written. Now is the time we must act to let the AVMA and the wildlife advocates know that we will not allow misquoted and misinformed studies be the death of thousands of feral cats.

Also...you may want to read this week's Best Friends article as a follow up. Linda Winters is just a tad "off" in her take on the situation:


I would HIGHLY recommend sending copies of those letters to Alley Cat Allies to present at the AVMA review of TNR Nov. 7th. It sounds like they may remove their endorsement of TNR which could have ill affects on the whole movement.

Again..thank you soo much for those well written and well versed letters...even I have learned a few things today.

post #15 of 15
I found another article inspired by National Feral Cat day. Overall, the tone is pro-feral (I have a new favorite journalist) but still quotes the same incorrect statistics. (shaking head in disgust)

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