Cats Kill The Darndest Things

Turns out cats are responsible for BILLIONS of bird deaths each year. Billions!

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Cats Kill The Darndest Things
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Cats Kill The Darndest Things

Cats kill birds. You may have ready about the latest study -- it's really a study of other studies, a crunching of data from 90 other surveys -- which cranked up the estimated death toll of birds from cats. The old number was about half a billion; but the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service now put it somewhere between 1.4 billion and 3.7 billion.

A lot of that killing is done by feral cats, but housecats allowed to roam outside kill from one to 34 birds per cat per year. There's a power law distribution at work here, according to one of our guests today. Some housecats are really good at killing birds and some are inept. But you, the owner, will probably never know which kind you have because, as you'll hear, outdoor cats have vast, complex, secret lives. 
 
You can join the conversation. E-mail colin@wnpr.org or Tweet us@wnprcolin.

  

Comments

EMAIL FROM ANN:

I hear you are doing a show tomorrow about the impact of domestic or feral cat predation on wild birds. Here is some info about a product cat owners can get to make it more difficult for their cats to kill birds. It is a brightly colored collar that alerts birds to the presence of the cat, making it difficult for the cat to sneak up on the bird. I cannot say that I have tried it because I do not currently have a cat, but the testimonials are positive and the principle behind it seems sound. You can check it out for yourself at:

http://www.birdsbesafe.com/

EMAIL FROM BARBARA:

I've heard that hanging CDs or other shiny objects outside windows will prevent birds from mistaking the reflection in the window for more space.

EMAIL FROM T:

Why do I find the cat issue irritating and stupid? I must be missing something.

What is a pist?

Aren't cats protected by the Second Amendment?

Is a cat drone the next step?

If you put a video camera on most of us, you might be shocked at how destructive we are.

EMAIL FROM PETER:

My neighbor has outside cats, I have found and rescued injured birds, rabbits and found many dead mice bodies around my yard killed by her cats. She claims she is a animal lover, I have encouraged her to keep her cats inside, her response , " oh thats what cats do" . Funny if a dog was out killing and maiming every outside animal that would be a problem , but I guess its ok for cats to roam around and kill for sport.

EMAIL FROM DAVID:

I didn't catch which guest was talking about all the different changes in the environment. But the thing is cats have a base station in human residence. They don't move or leave when food/toy populations decrease. If cats were truly affected by the elements then birds/pests have a chance to recover.

EMAIL FROM GREG:

I think we need a program to catch, neuter, and tattoo feral cats and
drop them off at biker bars, I think their anti social tendencies
would be quite compatible with the Hell's Angels and the Outlaws, and
they would be too stoned drunk on beer most of the time to be able to
catch anything. We can put Chion in charge of tattooing, she seems
pretty multitalented, I'm sure she could pick up the necessary skills
in no time. Just don't give em any guns.

EMAIL FROM KATHY:

Colin, and Chion, et al
Thanks for doing this show. I was in the queue waiting to speak. Waiting in parking lot of Spicebush Swamp, on my way back to work, having just left my daily feral colony lunch feeding in another part of West Hartford.
So much to say about this complicated subject.
I do TNR, I rescue, I have a house full of throwaway cats....house I bought in New Britain came with at least 3 ferals/ longtime strays...who are now my responsibility.
By that I mean, I feed, vaccinate, spay/neuter, shelter, and care for now forever.
I'd rather be doing so much more, spending my money on so many other things.
Abandoned animals suffer, and humans are the only ones who can care for them.

I'm out there. I obsessed during the blizzard about "my" cats. I dug pathways all night long during the storm to be sure if the cats were there they'd be able to get to shelter and/or to food and water. This is why I live alone. That is another story.

Anyway, I'd love the opportunity to share what I wanted to say today.
Can I also say I cannot stand when people say these things when they get on teh air:

"Hi, How are you doing?"
"Gee, thanks for taking my call"

Hate those two things. TIME WASTERS!
Ok, that is my 2 cents for now.
Please contact if you do another cat show. My lunch hour is perfect: 1-2 p.m.!

For Cats Everywhere,
Kathy Hucks
New Britain
Formerly of West Hartford, but still work here and feed cats here.

ps. can you imagine a Gary Larson cartoon about your show today:

picture you adn your production team, talking about ferals, strays, their bad behaviors...and then the next picture are feral cats hanging out around some shelters....in the woods or urban...either....and laughing about how we can't seem to figure cats out....i mean, that is the true beauty and mystique of them, isn't it?

EMAIL FROM ERNIE:

Colin, A frequent listener and very much appreciate your devoting a show to this issue. I am an active birder but concerned about the broader natural environment. I believe Dr. Fenwick, and many others, are not just blaming cats. In fact he made a point of the blame was on us, humans. Birders ,et al, are heavily invested in finding ways to reduce wild life kill by windows, traffic, wind turbines, pesticides and careless use on poisons. But those who support the free-roaming of cats seem not to have the same compassion for wildlife. Domestic cats are not intended to be wildlife. De- sexing and releasing feral cats just turns them loose to hunt. I care about cats and have had several. Some I let out without realizing their impact. For their own health and safety- keep them in. Find humane ways to eliminate populations of feral cats ( ie. adoption programs). One way we can encourage increased bio-diversity, even in developed neighborhoods is to support mini-habitats ( small wood/wetlands/ponds/fields etc). And protest the populations in the wild food chain. When cats kill small animals then there is less food for owls,hawks, snakes,--. And how often do cats kill an animal, not eat it and bring it to the back door-- then come in for a dish of food/water? Lastly, to reinforce something another interviewee- we do not allow pet owners who have dogs to let them roam through the neighborhood. Let's call on each other to exercise better stewardship of a broad diversity of creation.