Saturday, December 4, 2010

Killing and shooting feral cats??

LINCOLN, Neb. -- A report that recommends killing feral cats as a way to control the animals, including a primer on how to shoot a cat, is stirring emotions among bird and cat lovers.
The University of Nebraska at Lincoln's study found that neutering or spaying is ineffective at eliminating feral cat colonies, though useful in reducing colonies' expansion.
One official from the American Bird Conservancy calls the report "a must read" for communities with a feral cat problem.
But critics note the wild cats help control rodent populations, and say habitat destruction, herbicides and other issues are a bigger threat to birds.
They also question the report's finding that feral cats' killing of birds costs the U.S. $17 billion, when accounting for how much bird watchers, hunters and others spend on the hobbies.

From Louise Holton, Alley Cat Rescue : Feral cat TNR DOES work
First go to Vox Felina's webpages and read about how these so-called "studies" on cat predation are all flawed and exaggerated. Secondly, TNR DOES work. I have TNR'd many colonies during the last 20 years that no longer exist today. The cats all died eventually---some at 12 to 15 years old. (so much for "feral cats live short, miserable lives".)
The thing is they (the anti-cat folks) look at a couple of colonies who still have cats in them 15 or so years later, and say TNR does not work. The truth of this is the U S is a CONTINENT and we have no laws or even ways of implementing any laws to force people to sterilize their housecats. Nor can our animal control agencies keep up with people abandoning cats, so colonies will have a constant influx of new animals. But in every colony on a college campus, or any of the colonies the anti-cat people cite, the numbers are down from around 1,000 to even 2,000 cats to 500 or less.
Thing is: THEY will not listen. THEY have made up their minds that feral cats are Invasive, alien, exotic pests (even though cats have been living in the U.S. for over 500 years in a feral state) and have taken over as Mesopredators as we killed all the larger predators such as wolves and cougars.
Every study shows that even if cats rely solely on hunting, rodents are their main prey. A small number of cats become "bird specialists" but for the main part, actually feral cats live in cities and urban areas, and their main source of food is HUMAN GARBAGE.
ALSO....Only on small islands have they been able to eliminate feral cats, and some islands took 16 years (Marion Island) to do this, and other islands (Macquarie) became a disaster zone after they eliminated feral cats. So how in the heck do they plan to wipe out millions of cats on a Continent? And what will happen to our cruelty laws? So you are then allowed to go out and shoot any cat at will? What about pet cats??
I could write a book on this topic, but don't want to go on too much. Let's finish with a warning from Dr. John Terborgh in his book "Tropic Cascades": Dr Terborgh warned that eradication of cats alone on islands could result in a release in the rat populations and intensify bird declines. Now imagine the rat populations exploding on continental USA?
Dr Lilith in Australia found that protecting and restoring the habitats of declining native wildlife may be MORE IMPORTANT than simply controlling where pets can go. She said there was a popular perception that cats were the main problem in conserving small mammals, but vegetation and ground cover density appear to be a more important issue.

Monday, August 9, 2010

When Will TNR Opponents accept our work to help cats and reduce their numbers?

Veterinarian Dr Gary Patroneck writes: “Complete reconciliation between cat advocates, wildlife protectors, and public health authorities may not be possible, but conflicts could be minimized if risks were portrayed without exaggeration or minimization.”
At Alley Cat Rescue we have always acknowledged that cats are predators. They catch small rodents like rats and mice. And yes, some cats catch birds.
This is what I have been saying for almost 20 years:
  1. Cats are rodent specialists ----they are built to sit- and -wait for small animals to come out of holes and burrows. I have personally witnessed this many times in a colony I was caring for in Langley Park, Maryland. Many mornings one cat in particular would be sitting patiently outside a hole in the cement paving where I had seen mice and even rats go down.
  2. Some cats do become bird specialists.
  3. Feral cats are “opportunistic feeders”---they will eat what is most easily available, without having to expend too much energy on obtaining their food
  4. Feral cats become scavengers, eating from human trash and garbage. This is how they became “domesticated” 9,000 years ago. The African Wildcat (ancestor of our modern housecat) found rodents eating stored grain in the Middle East and North Africa, and they preyed upon the easily-available rodents, then as the villages made friends with the cats, probably because of their hunting prowess—they were fed table scraps, and probably found bits of meat thrown out in human trash.
  5. Much of the so-called devastation cats have on biodiversity comes from island studies, where many birds are ground-nesting and have not evolved with mammals. Therefore the cats that were taken on ships to islands to control the introduced rodents, do prey on native birds, but they also keep the rodent population in check, and if the cats are poisoned or trapped and killed, the rodents simply multiply rapidly and then eat the birds’ eggs or even prey on the baby birds. Which defeats the whole concept of killing the cats to protect the birds.
Feral cats are simply filling the niches left open by natural predators that have been driven to extinction by humans. Cats have filled niches left by native predators killed by our own government and by farmers and hunters…animals such as foxes, grey wolves, coyotes and wildcats (bobcats, mountain lions, jaguars, ocelots). These animals were killed in their millions by the US government’s Animal Damage Control program to protect farm animals from predators. Native preda­tors also lost their prey animals due to humans overdeveloping the land.
Mesopredator release is a fairly new concept that is gaining approval. When larger predators are removed or killed, and are taken out of an ecosystem, the number of mesopredators (defined as medium-sized predators, such as raccoons, skunks, snakes, cats, and foxes) increase in abundance. In other words they fill the niches left open by the removal of larger predators.
A Columbia University study found that “reducing cats’ effect on the ecosystem may actually have a negative impact upon some native species due to the possibility of ‘mesopredator release effect’. The study also recommended that we confront the cat population problem with a combination of methods: “enlist the “trap-neuter-return” style of feral management and combine it with incentives for owners to sterilize their pet cats.”
So what is everyone doing?
Well some of us rolled up our sleeves and started trapping and sterilizing to reduce and control cat populations. This started seriously in 1990 as several large TNR groups formed in Florida, North Carolina, San Diego, Portland, and here in Maryland, Alley Cat Rescue’s headquarters. Each group has spayed and neutered tens of thousands of feral cats.  Not only has ACR actually trapped and neutered thousands of feral cats here in Maryland, D.C. and Virginia, we have also helped countless people all across the country through our National Cat Actions Teams. Smaller groups in nearly every city and town in the U.S. also have started TNR programs. Ordinary individuals have trapped the “backyard or porch strays” and had them fixed.
Other folks are still afraid of us, and complaining about “too many cats” and yet doing nothing about it. Sadly some animal shelters are still trapping and killing—despite the evidence that this does not help; and in fact can be counter-productive, as new cats from the surrounding areas quickly take advantage of the available niches and move in to repopulate the areas.
Dr Julie Levy, Founder of Operation Catnip, says: “Eradication of feral cats has only been accomplished on small uninhabited islands in which a combination of poisoning, shooting, trapping, and a deliberate release of infectious diseases was used over decades at a cost of millions of dollars.”
The TNR movement is growing and gathering converts every day. We do hope the attacks will stop, as it uses up resources that could be used to help the cats. We need to have more low-cost clinics helping people with TNR. We also need to use these clinics to help those who can either cannot afford to fix their own housecats, or who for some other reason will not fix their cats.
If we do not PREVENT new cats from entering colonies or from forming new colonies, we will just be spinning our wheels.  ACR runs a weekly low-cost spay-neuter clinic to do just this.
But please, do support those people helping these community cats. Compassion and being humane and ethical should be rewarded, not penalized, and certainly not belittled.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Photos of Leg-Hold Traps

New Zealand is using leg-hold traps to catch feral cats

New Zealand, in my opinion, use some horrific methods to "control" so-called nuisance and feral animals. The latest is the use of leg-hold traps. Even the "soft-jaw" traps are still cruel. Its an open trap and the cat gets caught by one leg and then thrashes around for hours trying to free himself. Sometimes they try to bite off their leg in trying to get free. How this is seen in any way to be "humane" is totally beyond me.

"Peacock, a little stunned by it all, says feral cats are a real problem, that they use soft-jawed leg-traps and it is all part of a transparent and legal process. Callers ring in with their feral animal marketing slogans. Peacock says Tas has stopped using 1080 poison on possums. He says all CRC's need to have a commercial aspect to their operation.

"This is an accurate account - I was a bit stunned. We do support leg-hold trapping of cats using soft-jaw traps (as part of a management program, which it obviously was in this case); we don't employ people to soothe animal welfare concerns (I sit on two government working groups on animal welfare and our CRC has a policy not to undertake research where the welfare outcome can be predicted to be worse than currently available methods); and we don't hide our commercial members of the CRC - they are all appear on our website."

Killing feral animals does NOT solve the problem. A far better method is to TNR the cats--trap, neuter,return the cats to stop the breeding. Trapping random cats in this fashion, then killing them, if they are not already dead from blood loss after this horrific trapping, is just a stop-gap, lazy, quick-fix. Other cats left behind are going to continue to breed and they will continue to have a "feral cat problem"

I will be adding some addresses to this site for those compassionate people who want to voice their opinions that this is archaic and barbaric.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

More on NOT feeding feral and stray cats

Director of Montgomery County Resource Center Mark Kumpf said leaving food out for the stray cats on the street is a bad idea. "Animals are not particular as to the food they eat," he said. "You may think the food you set out is going to be consumed by the stray cat, while wildlife such as a raccoon could be consuming the same food."
Mark, the former President of the National Animal Control Association, seemed to be pleased some time ago when he announced that NACA would support some TNR for feral cats. Alley Cat Rescue members sent him a ton of mail to request that he ask animal control agencies to stop feeding bans as they do nothing to deter colonies of cats, and in fact are quite cruel and inhumane.
He never responded to our members, as far as I know.
Now how can you “support” TNR and then tell people NOT to feed? Feeding is the start of trying to control stray and feral cats. You feed first, then, when the cats are in a regular feeding pattern, you start trapping to bring them in for spay/neuter/shots and you remove the tame cats and find homes for them.
Perhaps someone can tell me if they don’t find the stance of Mark Kumpf to be a little of an oxymoron?
Am I using the word in a wrong context here? Perhaps I am, but I don’t know what else to say when someone says "Yes lets TNR the cats, but DON’T feed."
Here is what someone had to say about an oxymoron:
“An oxymoron (plural oxymora or, more commonly, oxymorons) (noun) is a figure of speech that combines two normally contradictory terms (e.g. "deafening silence") to make a point. Oxymoron is a Greek term derived from oxy ("sharp") and moros ("dull" or "dumb" ), which means the word is an oxymoron. Another, similar oxymoron is sophomore, meaning "wise fool".
I don’t think I need to say more. This says it all for me!

Sunday, April 11, 2010

To help solve the feral cat problem lets ban the feeding of cats.


This is often the first thing authorities do when they are faced with a growing feral cat population. To me (endowed with just plain common sense) a compassionate person would NEVER say “just stop feeding the cats, they will go away and we won’t have a problem any longer.”

Well even if this were true (and it’s not) do they ever think "what is going to happen to these poor hapless cats when their food source is taken away?"

The cats will scrounge in our trash which, by the way, is everywhere----outside every store, every restaurant, every fast food place -----millions of places everywhere people throw out unwanted food, and the cats are smart enough to find it. Plus these rich food dumping grounds are huge attractions for pigeons and other birds plus rodents. Many cats are attracted to the rodents as well.

Now, cats can survive by becoming scavengers and they can catch rodents, but feeding them daily good nutritious food would be so much better for their health. The other way (scavenging) is often hit-or-miss for them and sometimes they go hungry, making them more susceptible to viruses and diseases. They will cross busy roads looking for food. Nevertheless they will still go on to breed more kittens. So in all honesty, banning feeding is not only NO solution, it is also cruel and inhumane.

Here is a sampling of the daily news about feral cat colonies and how to control them. And often the solutions just amaze one:

"Many of the domestic cats are dying because they're eating with the feral cats that are being fed," said Wiley. (Well if the cats are fixed and vaccinated and the domestic cats are fixed and vaccinated then there is little chance of disease and viruses and "dying" will not be happening. A well-fed MANAGED colony does NOT spread disease.)

"Fed, Wiley says, by people who set up feeding stations. More times than not at abandoned property sites. Mary says those setting out the food believe they're actually doing a good thing.
"It's not a malicious act," Wiley said.
Wiley admits to at one-time also being a "feral cat feeder." But that stopped, she says, when she found out the dangers. (So what happened to all the poor cats she stopped feeding?
At a feeding station like this one behind me, local residents say when the sun goes down, you're likely to see some 30, 40 cats here, with a host of other animals.
"They're eating with squirrels, rats, mice, skunks," said Wiley. (So what? Although at Alley Cat Rescue we do tell cat feeders NOT to put out too much food, and to pick up after the cats have eaten. But millions of people feed wild animals and birds, and anyway these animals ALSO eat from our garbage….ever go out on trash day and see all the birds eating from the trash?)

Fornario says the town hasn't yet decided what action to take, but is considering feeding bans and implementing a spay and neuter and release policy to try and control the growing number of feral cats.

(Well at least good to hear they are considering TNR, but how can you TNR without feeding?)

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Cat Tales

I am starting to write a Weekly Blog for the first time! My name is Louise and I have been rescuing cats--stray and feral-- my whole life, although this past-time has escalated over the past 2 decades to becoming much of my life.

I am the co-founder of Alley Cat Allies and the Founder of Alley Cat Rescue. I work full-time for Alley Cat Rescue. We rescue stray, abandoned and owner-relinquished cats and provide them full medical care and find them new homes. ACR also promotes TNR-trap-neuter-return for feral cats. Providing feral cats with a better life is a mission for me, and we help people nationwide in the U.S. and internationally to find assistance for this compassionate work. Helping people who don't want the cat killed through our Cat Action Teams to give them the names of a low-cost vet clinic, where to find traps etc etc.

I have written many Fact Sheets on all aspects of helping feral cats and have also published an award-winning Feral Cat Hand Book, which I am in the process of updating.

ACR runs a weekly spay/neuter clinic for stray and feral cats at an animal clinic in the Brentwood/ Mount Rainer area of Maryland.

It has been a huge struggle to fight for feral cats. They are much-maligned and hated by many. Misinformation has been spread about cat predation, claims about bird predation are hugely exaggerated. Counties and towns want to hunt them and poison them. The so-called "experts" have done quite a job to the point where even otherwise sensible people start believing all the bad press.

They have become a scapegoat for the environmental movement ---blamed for the demise of wildlife and bird populations. I will be writing much more on this topic as I get going with this Blog!

For now this is my very first attempt. So I hope anyone who reads this will respond with their own stories and Cat Tales! I love all animals, so Cat Tales will not be the only topic discussed here.