It is not okay for cats to kill all the neighborhood birds.

 

I’m living next to a killer named Frankie. He’s black-and-white and sweet as cats go; he’s also a menace that nobody talks much about, though feral and free-roaming housecats like Frankie have become a tragic problem all over the world.

Every year in America, cats, many of them well-fed pets, kill about 12.3 billion mammals and 2.4 billion birds. When you open the door, your friendly furry feline transforms into a miniature terrorist. It’s as if outdoor domestic cats are an invasive species, predators that are pampered and subsidized by doting owners.

Feral cats are an even bigger problem. In the United States, there are some 60 million unwanted cats. No wonder: With a survival rate of 2.8 kittens per litter with continued breeding, two cats can become 3,822 cats in just four years.

Frankie belongs to my neighbors. We live in a small southern Idaho community, surrounded by sagebrush foothills and lots of wildlife. A marsh hosts red-winged blackbirds and assorted ducks. Deer wander past my window daily, as well as the occasional red fox, and quail and pheasant calls fill the air. Red-tailed, Swainson’s, sharp-shinned, and Cooper’s hawks all share the sky with a golden eagle, though not at the same time. The Cooper’s is a particular fixture; I occasionally see him dining on a finch but don’t begrudge him his meal. After all, he’s a native.

That’s where Frankie comes in. His owner opens the door for this well-fed, neutered cat and the carnage begins. First, he digs up my flowerbed to relieve himself, then he hunts.

He bags about a bird a day. I saw him snatch a finch last week; the following day a quail succumbed to his ambush. Now that it’s summer, the quail bring their fuzzy chicks to my yard, where I’ve scattered seeds for them. Last year, we had 36 chicks every day. But now the quail are afraid. I hear their alarm calls and always spot Frankie skulking in the bushes.

Of course, an easy solution exists for the house cat problem. Got a pet cat? Keep it in your house -- forever. The Humane Society says indoor cats live much longer and healthier lives than outdoor cats: 18–20 years, vs. 3–4 years. My indoor-only cat lived nearly 19 years. Outdoors, cats can be bitten by other cats, killed by vehicles or predators, infected by sick cats, stolen or simply lost. For all these reasons and more, animal welfare organizations urge all cat owners to keep their pets inside.

And what about being considerate or even neighborly?  Frankie and friends know no property boundaries, yet their owners don’t seem to care. Most dog owners know it’s not right to let a dog poop in a neighbor’s yard, and that includes even a very small dog.

So before you open the door to let your cat out -- wait. Think about the wildlife your cat kills. Think about your neighbor’s yard. Get a litter box. Be responsible for your cat. You can’t solve the feral cat problem alone, but each of us can solve the problem of the cats we own. Let’s make it not OK to let your cat out so it runs loose.

Domestic animals by definition are not meant to run wild. We contain them behind fences or by other means, both for their protection and to promote civility. As fences cannot contain felines, a responsible cat owner keeps a cat in the house.

With the encouragement of my town council president, I’ve placed a letter on every doorstep in my neighborhood explaining why cats belong indoors, and informing cat owners that any cats on private property can be picked up and taken to the animal shelter. Frankie’s not the only hunter in the neighborhood: About 25 pet cats hunt in our marsh or other backyards.

Despite phone calls, notes on the door and requests from the town council, however, Frankie’s owners still let him out. So yesterday Frankie made his first trip to the animal shelter, purring in my lap. I admit I felt horrible doing this, but I also felt that his avian carnage must stop. His owners will now have to make the same hour-long drive that I did, plus pay about $40 to bail him out. I’m prepared to do this indefinitely so the wildlife here can live in peace. Today, as I type, six adult quail with perhaps 20 chicks are scurrying through the grass outside my window. Their feline stalker is away, at least for now.

Crista Worthy is a contributor to Writers on the Range, a service of High Country News. She is a writer and editor for Pilot Getaways magazine and editor of The Flyline, a monthly publication of the Idaho Aviation Association.

Mary Sojourner
Mary Sojourner
Aug 23, 2013 11:51 AM
Gracious sakes, such venom, Nature Advocate. May I suggest that anyone who is troubled by free-ranging cats eating birds get involved in their local Spay and Neuter program. These programs need cash and volunteers. Feral populations of cats grow at astronomical numbers. And, while we're at it, how about spay and neuter for humans - we are killing bird species all the time everywhere - please educate yourself about the devastation caused by wind power installations. Here are two worthy causes for your fury, NA.
chris gee
chris gee
Aug 23, 2013 12:01 PM
Ms Worthy, you do realize that Frankie's owners probably have no idea where the cat is and would not think to go to the shelter. Unless this shelter is no-kill Frankie will likely be killed in short order. Doesn't that make you a killer too? You say yourself you put seed out for the birds, knowing full well Frankie hunts in your yard. I don't know what other outcome you could have expected.

Scolding the neighbors with notes doesn't work, education does. But by your action you are trying to gain compliance through extortion: keep your cat indoors or I will kill it.
Nancy Dunavan
Nancy Dunavan
Aug 23, 2013 12:11 PM
In most jurisdictions, cats are considered property. I'm pretty sure you just confessed to knowingly stealing your neighbors property. Here's hoping, in the infinitely small world that is the internet, someone knows where you live so they can report your crime to the police. One must be careful with taking on the mantle of vigilante lest it be visited on them in return.
joan strack
joan strack
Aug 23, 2013 12:35 PM
Ms Worthy: The neighborhood birds do not belong to you nor anyone else in the neighborhood. They are not your property. They are wildlife. Frankie, on the other hand, is someone's "property" and that someone is not you! If this story is true, I sincerely hope that Frankie's owners' sue you. You stole their "property" and they are entitled to compensation.
Jennifer Reding
Jennifer Reding
Aug 23, 2013 12:36 PM
Congratulations Crista, you just probably sentenced sweet Frankie to death. All because you want to feed Quail in your yard. I hope you are proud of yourself. Has it possibly occurred to you that Quail shouldn't be fed by humans? That it is their association with *you* that is causing their death?

Oh, and hi there Woodsman. I see you are calling yourself Nature Advocate here--what's wrong, get banned again? I see you haven't gotten any therapy for your extreme ailurophobia.You really should get some help.
joan strack
joan strack
Aug 23, 2013 12:43 PM
I believe you live in Garden City, Idaho, Crista? Hmmmm.....I assume there is a newspaper there or I could locate the animal shelter that is about 1 hours drive away. You will be exposed to the authorities and the owners.
Nancy Dunavan
Nancy Dunavan
Aug 23, 2013 12:55 PM
Can anyone verify that is her location? As law abiding citizens it will be up to us to report this criminal and her behavior to those authorities.
Lee Wright
Lee Wright
Aug 23, 2013 01:07 PM
Wait, you are feeding the birds (thereby "subsidizing" them) causing them to congregate unnaturally and then complaining that it attracts the neighbor's cat? Birds are a prey species. Stop feeding them and problem solved. As usual, human causing the problem. Sorry you don't like to see a cat catch a bird, but if you see a fox or a hawk catch one, are you going to shoot it? What you did is despicable. I hope you were at least responsible enough to tell Frankie's owners what you did, otherwise they will likely never know what happened to their beloved pet. Educate yourself about TNR and real solutions to feral cats, and please stop kidnapping your neighbors' pets. http://www.alleycat.org/
http://www.indyferal.org/
Mary Sojourner
Mary Sojourner
Aug 23, 2013 01:09 PM
Wow. I knew that my gut clenched when Crista talked about talking the cat to the shelter, but you all just woke me up to how atrocious her behavior is. By the way, her credentials seem to indicate that she flies airplanes - those fossil-fuel guzzling machines that are helping to turn up the planet's heat (which is so good for wildlife, right?)
Tay Wiles
Tay Wiles Subscriber
Aug 23, 2013 01:45 PM
Thank you, everyone, for sharing your thoughts. Please keep in mind that HCN requires all commenters to use first and last names. Also, this comments section is a place to discuss issues presented in the written piece. It is not appropriate to make personal attacks on the author or anyone else.

For reference, here is our commenting policy: http://www.hcn.org/policies/comments-policy

Thank you -
Tay Wiles
Online Editor
Susie Rabatine
Susie Rabatine
Aug 23, 2013 01:55 PM
I apologize for not using my full name - I did not read that part.

I do not apologize for calling the writer a thief - she said it herself - or for questioning her credibility since she is feeding the birds and wondering why a cat is attracted to her yard.
Susie Rabatine
Susie Rabatine
Aug 23, 2013 02:20 PM
And the poster who was "attacked" went by "Nature Advocate". His use of the term "cat licking" gave away his identity as "Woodsman", otherwise known as Jim Stephenson - the bird watcher who deliberately shot a cat in Galveston.

Lee Wright
Lee Wright
Aug 23, 2013 02:50 PM
If anyone knows where Crista Worthy lives, I urge them to inform her neighbors what happened to their cat. Some shelters have very short hold times before they euthanize.
Corinne Myers
Corinne Myers
Aug 23, 2013 03:48 PM
If "[it is not okay for cats to kill all the neighborhood birds," then it is certainly not OK for you to catnap a family pet--which is considered chattel, and therefore an act of larceny--to be destroyed.
You are not only a criminal, you are an idiot. TNR solves most of the "problems" you describe.
Peter Leiterman
Peter Leiterman
Aug 23, 2013 04:19 PM
Hats off to you Crista, you have my full support. I also have taken cats to the shelter that were roaming around my property. Unfortunately it appears there are a lot of other bad cat owners that allow their cats to roam freely and unsupervised.
joan strack
joan strack
Aug 23, 2013 04:21 PM
Isn't she a techical editor at the publication Idaho Aviation? I don't think she is employed by High Country News.
Tim Baker
Tim Baker
Aug 23, 2013 04:26 PM
I appreciate Ms. Worthy's frustration at dealing with neighbors who absolutely refuse to accept any responsibility for their cat's behavior. If a dog owner behaved the same way, particularly if the dog chased or killed wildlife on someone else's property, no one would one be complaining about actions taken to stop the dog. Indeed, many states have wildlife laws explicitly stating that dogs observed chasing or harassing wildlife can be shot and killed. People exhibit this weird emotional response when it comes to feral and free-roaming cats as if they are sacrosanct animals whose freedom must never be constrained. And billions of small mammals and birds continue to pay the price of this strange domesticated feline obsession. I don't get it.
Nancy Dunavan
Nancy Dunavan
Aug 23, 2013 04:44 PM
I appreciate her frustration but not her hubris. Cats aren't the only thing destroying bird populations. She just has to look into a mirror to find the biggest destroyer of habitats, migratory pathways, food sources and pollution. I don't want to see birds killed either but scapegoating an animal who knows no better isn't the answer either. That's something I definitely don't get.
Crista Worthy
Crista Worthy Subscriber
Aug 23, 2013 09:06 PM
People! Get a grip! Read the article carefully and you will see that I personally called Frankie's owner to discuss this problem several times. They did not answer and I left complete messages with my phone number asking for return calls. Did not get any. I placed written requests on the door, and warned that the cat could be subject to a trip to the shelter. The town council president contacted them and warned that they would be subject to a CCR violation. They ignored us both. Every day there was another dead bird covered in yellowjackets for me to clean up. What is the difference between that and a dog that leaves a big poop in my yard? If I ask the owner to keep the pet that does this out of my yard then that request should be respected. Now, how do I know Frankie's name and where he lives? He has a tag on his neck with his name and information. This, of course, the shelter got as well. Within an hour after dropping him off, the shelter called Frankie's owners to come pick him up. I know about animal shelters; I used to volunteer at one and also worked as a veterinary assistant some years ago. Both the shelter and local law enforcement told me that any animal that goes on private property and is not wanted, is trespassing, and can be legally transported to the shelter. I actually called the shelter about this and they encouraged me to bring the cat in, so the owners would understand it is a problem. When the owners came to pick up Frankie, all the reasons why all cat owners should keep their pets inside were explained to them. Our neighborhood marsh is full of nesting birds, and there are signs posted that ask all residents to please keep their pets out of the marsh. Additionally, the town council sent out a letter to all residents this past spring specifically asking owners to keep pets inside. It is also a violation of our town CCRs for any pet to be off its owner's property, unless it is on a leash. As for the results, I have seen exactly one cat walking outside, and not on my property, in the last month. No other cats have had to go to the shelter. That is a remarkable success.
Crista Worthy
Crista Worthy Subscriber
Aug 23, 2013 09:21 PM
I might add that, as a kid growing up, I had four cats over the years. All of them were indoor/outdoor cats. We lived in a quiet neighborhood, but there were cars on the streets and coyotes in the chaparral. All four cats vanished after about three years each (my dad found one of them dead by the road, hit by a car). Each time I was heartbroken. When I was working as a veterinary assistant, one of our clients gave me a kitten--the first cat I ever had as an adult on my own. That cat lived a very happy life for just short of 19 years as an indoor cat. To me, letting your cat out, knowing that will probably greatly shorten its life, is akin to allowing your child to do, or eat, something every day that will likely also shorten his or her life. I just can't imagine doing that.
Susie Rabatine
Susie Rabatine
Aug 23, 2013 09:30 PM
So, Ms. Worthy, the shelter encouraged you to steal a cat? Are cats not property in Idaho?

You know, my dear, I have had cats all of my life and have not had one go outdoors for over thirty years because I agree with you that it is not safe. What I do not agree with is that you did anything right here.

You feed birds which is also not natural when you seem so concerned about the protection of "native species". You have made them dependent on you and yet you complain about your neighbor allowing the neutered cat out when you are attracting the birds - prey animals - into your yard.

I am glad that the shelter contacted the owner. I do hope that the owner sues you however.

And I seem to have a much firmer grip on reality than you do and so do the other posters here with the exception of the one who was removed - Nature Advocate. We understand that you do not care about the animals and that you do not care that you publicly boasted about stealing a cat. It is theft regardless of what you did with that property.

You are a thief by your own admission.
Susie Rabatine
Susie Rabatine
Aug 23, 2013 09:35 PM
I am also sure that people in your town have access to the internet and there are undoubtedly some of your neighbors who know what you are now if they did not before.

You may have accomplished your goal of keeping this cat in by your actions - this time. But you have also now become infamous with pet lovers and animal rescues all over Facebook. I have a couple of FB friends in your part of the country and I would be willing to bet that others do as well.

Enjoy the fame and think about it carefully if you manage not to be sued this time.
Peter Wolf
Peter Wolf
Aug 23, 2013 09:52 PM
Christa,

Like so many others who have left comments, I strongly object to your course of action. You indicate that you reached out to your neighbor, but did you try any of the deterrents easily found online?

But, as I say, you’ve already gotten an earful of this. I would only add that, contrary to what you suggest here, you do not have science on your side.

Your claim that cats “kill about 12.3 billion mammals and 2.4 billion birds” annually is, of course, a reference to a paper published earlier this year by the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. A careful look at the work that went into this paper reveals significant flaws. Indeed, at its core, this was an agenda-driven, taxpayer-funded effort to undermine non-lethal methods for the management of free-roaming cats.

Although a detailed critique is beyond the scope of this letter, a brief overview of the more glaring weaknesses will, I think, make the point.

The 1.4–3.7 billion annual bird mortalities reported by the authors (which they describe throughout their paper as a conservative estimate) represent an astonishing 29–76 percent of the estimated 4.7 billion land birds IN ALL OF NORTH AMERICA, a “contribution” that would very likely have led to the extinction of numerous bird species long ago. Even if, as some have suggested, “the total [population of land birds] could be 2 to 3 times higher in some regions,” the implied impact due to predation by cats is simply not supported by existing data. Indeed, 57 of the 58 native bird species Loss et al claim are targeted by cats have been given a “Least Concern” conservation status by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. The one exception, the Northern Bobwhite, is considered “Near Threatened” due largely to widespread habitat fragmentation and extensive hunting. Moreover, the populations of at least 23 of those 58 species are, as indicated by nearly 45 years of North America Breeding Bird Survey data, stable or increasing.

While you might object to Frankie’s “avian carnage,” and even notice a difference in the behavior of the quail in his absence, please understand that there’s no evidence to suggest that such predation affects bird species at the population level.

As researchers Dennis Turner and Mike Fitzgerald explained 13 years ago, after reviewing several dozen studies on the subject, “there are few, if any studies apart from island ones, that actually demonstrate that cats have reduced bird populations.” Like all predators, cats tend to prey on the young, the old, the weak and unhealthy. At least two studies have investigated this in great detail, revealing that birds killed by cats are, on average, significantly less healthy than birds killed through non-predatory events (e.g., collisions with windows or cars). “Despite the large numbers of birds killed, there is no scientific evidence that predation by cats in gardens is having any impact on bird populations UK-wide,” notes the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds on its website. “It is likely that most of the birds killed by cats would have died anyway from other causes before the next breeding season, so cats are unlikely to have a major impact on populations.”

I don’t know that this will deter you from taking matters into your own hands again in the future, but perhaps you’ll have a more difficult time justifying it to yourself if you do.

Peter J. Wolf
http://www.voxFelina.com
John Smyth
John Smyth
Aug 23, 2013 10:36 PM
EXCELLENT write-up. But you will find, as does anyone who has dealt with criminally-irresponsible cat-licking neighbors that you will NEVER change their behavior by being considerate about it. They don't give one damn about any other lives on earth, not even your own, not even that of their cats (letting them get ran over by cars and worse). They ONLY use their cats as an extension of their OWN territorial behavior. The cats just being an expendable proxy for this behavior of theirs. There's only ONE thing that finally works.

Following is my lengthy write-up of what I found DID finally work after 15 YEARS of trying to be "nice" about it. Then looking around one day and realizing that there was absolutely NOTHING but cats and rodents left on my lands, the rodents then invading my home.
John Smyth
John Smyth
Aug 23, 2013 10:37 PM
Licensing and laws do nothing to curb the problem. If cats are required to be licensed then cat-lickers just stop putting collars on their cats, as they did by me. And they won't even bother getting them micro-chipped, especially not that They want absolutely nothing that can hold them legally accountable for the actions of their cats. We're not talking about the topmost responsible citizens of the world. They don't want that responsibility of what their cat has done coming back on them. If they had even one iota of a sense of responsibility and respect for all other lives on this planet we wouldn't even be having these discussions.

However, I found something that DOES work, works well, and works fast (relative to the years it takes trying to educate deceitful and lying cat-lickers that accomplishes ABSOLUTELY NOTHING). Where I live cat-lickers have learned that _ALL_ cats, stray and feral, collared or not, ear-tipped or not (because TNR con-artists now just clip cats' ears only, WITHOUT sterilizing or vaccinating them, to protect their hoarded cats from being trapped and euthanized), _ALL_ their cats are shot on sight and buried whenever found away from supervised confinement.

The ONLY thing that works is destroying any of their cats found outdoors off their property. They either learn to stop getting more cats that die under the wheels of cars or from animal attacks, or they finally learn how to be a responsible pet owner, respectful neighbor, and learn to keep their invasive species animal under confined supervision, as it should be. Win win win all around.

You can't train a cat to stay home but I found that, in time, you CAN train a cat-owner into being a responsible pet-owner and a respectable neighbor. Most of them are so phenomenally stupid, disrespectful, and criminally irresponsible though that you have to make at least 12-15 of their cats permanently disappear before they even start to figure out what they've been doing wrong all during their sorry, useless, and pathetic lives. (Though the ones by me who were adopting "barn cats" from "barn-cat programs" were uniquely cretinized and lobotomized. I had to shoot and bury many hundreds of their cats, to stop their cats from annihilating the very last of my native wildlife, before they started to learn.)

If you live where its not legal to use firearms then check into 700-1200fps air-rifles and pointed vermin-pellets. Many of the new ones come with their own sound-suppressor designs built-in, specifically designed for shooting vermin cats in urban areas, the demand is that great. Failing that, then there's always the SSS and TDSS Cat Management Programs that are exploding in popularity worldwide. Shoot, Shovel, & Shut-Up; or Trap, Drown, Shovel, & Shut-Up. Both methods are legal on every square foot of this earth. No local laws were violated if it never happened. (Where cats have already learned to evade all trapping methods, then inexpensive generic acetaminophen (overseas paracetamol) pain-relievers are a more species-specific vermin poison. But you really need to dispose of that cat safely so that wildlife won't die from the many deadly diseases cats spread even after their death.)

I don't see anyone dumping cats where I live anymore. They don't even adopt more than can be kept under lock & key 24/7. When driving through the area I don't see even one cat on anyone's doorsteps anymore. I always keep an eye out to see if there are more free-roaming cats that will have to be shot. And if I'll have to leave fish-oil trails on all the roadsides again, leading right to my IR surveillance system and laser-sighted rifle. (You can read some of the most effective methods I invented to rid my lands of hundreds of these vermin in only two seasons, posted here: americanhunter D0T org/blogs/arkansas-will-trap-feral-cats The eradication so complete and effective that cats are non-existent from my area for nearly 4 years now. Not seen a one.)

Leaving ANY of their invasive species cats outside in my area means certain death for that cat, their further existence can be counted in hours. You'd think everyone else could learn from this simple lesson. The quickest way to solve an unwanted animal and irresponsible pet-owner problem is to let everyone know that you will quickly and humanely destroy every last one of their unwanted, uncared-for, or unsupervised animals for them. They either grow up fast or, far more plausible, dump their animals elsewhere to become someone else's problem.

You just can't be an enabler of criminally irresponsible spineless and heartless idiots -- or they remain that way. (At least where you live, anyway.)

IF THERE ARE NOT DIRECT AND IMMEDIATE IRREVERSIBLE CONSEQUENCES TO THEIR CRIMINALLY-NEGLIGENT AND CRIMINALLY-IRRESPONSIBLE BEHAVIORS AND VALUES THEN THEY LEARN ABSOLUTELY *NOTHING*.
John Smyth
John Smyth
Aug 23, 2013 10:38 PM
In case you are curious -- the term that I use of "cat licker" is justifiably and accurately gleaned from the growing fad of people who are obsessed with cats and want to do everything possible to make their cats feel good at the expense of all that is reasonable and sane.

They are now licking their cats clean.

youtube D0T com/watch?v=p9xmiOxsTWg

Since they see a cat fighting back from being washed in water as animal abuse, but the cat not fighting if they use their tongues, they use their tongues instead to wash their cats.

It's just another one of the many aberrant and mentally-ill behaviors of "cat lickers".

I cannot, in all good conscience and honesty, EVER use the term "cat lover" again to describe these heartless and spineless cretins. People who love cats do not throw them under the wheels of moving cars, let them lap-up antifreeze in a gutter, force them to attack one another to fight for territory (no different than people who run dog-fight rings and are just as criminal of animal abuse), or let them be attacked by other animals by letting them roam free. "Cat Lover" is an extremely oxymoronic label. "Cat Licker" is the only one that accurately works today.
John Smyth
John Smyth
Aug 23, 2013 10:53 PM
Susie, re: property laws -- you have no more right leaving your cat on someone else's property than you do your car. Both can be towed away, and if left abandoned there then the land-owner has every right to dispose of that abandoned property in any way that they see fit. In the case of cats, it's less costly and time consuming to use a 1/3-cent .22. Works where I live!
John Smyth
John Smyth
Aug 23, 2013 11:05 PM
Crista Worthy

re: Susie Rabatine's cyber-bullying threats.

Just Google for: Loews Hotels Feral Cats

For but one example of hundreds in how these cat-lickers are hellbent on destroying the lives of anyone that wants cats off their lands.

Another replay of what these cat-licking sociopaths do, Google for: CATS VENICE COMPLEX REPRIEVE

A $150 million renovation project for low-income housing, put on hold, jobs lost, money lost, homeless still homeless, court costs and lawyers, just to save a few of their feral vermin c-Rats. And the saddest part of all, the vast majority of these TNR'ed cats had already died heinous inhumane deaths from TNR-practitioners' "death by attrition". (Road-kill, diseases, parasites, injuries, environmental poisons, cat & animal attacks, exposure, etc.)

Similar scenarios can be found by Googling for feral cats and churches, universities, hospitals, shopping centers, malls, apartment complexes, etc., etc. Cat-lickers delusionally believe that any land on which a cat has stepped-foot is their own property and they can manipulate and control the owners and all laws on it.

Cat-lickers (irresponsible and psychotic cat-fanatics) post any and all anti-cat news events on their web-sites, blogs, email-chains, etc. (I keep track of these to watch how they operate), then within 1 hour of the news over 50,000 of them from all over the world will descend on any site that is about some controversial cat issue, start up at least 3 international petitions, and then fire-off addresses (business and home), phone numbers (business and home), names, and even photos of everyone involved so they can then cyber-bully everyone into submission. (The more dedicated cat-lickers from organizations like Alley-Cat-ALL-LIES will then even fly cross-country or internationally to attend any protests and meetings to voice their warped views.)

This is precisely why everyone is learning to destroy all cats on their properties as quickly and quietly as possible. Telling nobody beforehand about the cats even being there. Long before these cat-licker psychotics get wind of the cats. Shoot cats first, tell no-one later. The only thing worse than feral cats, are feral cat-lickers. You can legally shoot the former, not the latter. You need to pay lawyers and courts to get rid of the latter. THEN you can get rid of their cats. And the sad part is, that's EXACTLY what happens, each and every time.

People are wising-up. If ANY cats are around they destroy every last one of them first, before they make any other move.
John Smyth
John Smyth
Aug 23, 2013 11:36 PM
Hint: If you too want to see how they try to manipulate and control everyone through their expendable cats, sign-up to all their cyber-bullying clubhouses online. I've been signed-up on them for almost 4 years now. I'm still one of their very best TNR friends, the very last one they'd ever suspect. :-) They share SO MUCH with me! :-)
Susie Rabatine
Susie Rabatine
Aug 23, 2013 11:41 PM
Interestingly enough it appears that HCN has changed the terms of use :)
John Smyth
John Smyth
Aug 24, 2013 03:21 AM
Hey, HCN! I was just checking some email from these cat-lickers, and I'm now supposed to contact all your sponsors to get your funding pulled. JUST because 1 person HUMANELY removed 1 cat from her OWN property and you published their words about it.

Should I do what they say? All the rest of them are doing it.

Now do you see what kind of underhanded cyber-bullying they pull on EVERYONE on the planet? No matter how slight the grievance is toward one of "THEIR" invasive species vermin cats, they will try to destroy your life.

Crista Worthy: They've already published your address and phone number all over the internet to scare you from ever doing such a dastardly thing again (you know, complaining about one of their cats and then telling others about it). You might want to contact some lawyers and have all these cat-lickers arrested and convicted of cyber-bullying charges. Some of these groups have deep pockets. A good lawyer would LOVE to drain them dry. :-)
Alexandra Phillip
Alexandra Phillip
Aug 24, 2013 12:01 PM
TROLL ALERT...
JOHN SMYTH is the commenter also known as "Woodsman001" and "Nature_Advocate". He needs to make up new monikers because he gets banned for his rabid rants. This guy is a pathological cat hater. From a psychological perspective, I'd venture a guess that he was neglected by his mom and refused by all womankind (for good reason...). What expresses as cat hate is often rooted in deep misogyny. Cats are not the problem... his mental illness is. Sadly he has NO CLUE how sick he sounds to any healthy person.
He can be recognized by his excessive posting of hate-spewing rants, and obsessive use of the term "cat licker". What a hate machine, what a sick sad life.
Alexandra Phillip
Alexandra Phillip
Aug 24, 2013 12:04 PM
You are hauling your neighbor's cat off to a shelter, you're bragging about it in your little article and then you are telling people to "get a grip", seriously??

Here is my one wish for you: may Karma find you.
Carey Cuprisin
Carey Cuprisin
Aug 24, 2013 06:30 PM
Neighborliness is always a two-way street. Strictly speaking, does Ms Worthy have the legal right to exclude Frankie from her yard? I think she probably does. The question, though, is whether it's neighborly to do so. I think not.

In this country, domestic cats who wander about the neighborhood doing their cat business is -- like it or not -- ubiquitous. The cultural and social standards governing management of a pet cat are not the same as those governing management of a small dog. A dog is expected to be on a leash or confined in a yard at all times, but a cat? Not the same, by a long shot. The consequence is that if you are going to choose to live next to someone with a pet cat, you are likely going to have to deal with their pet cat entering your yard and occasionally killing the neighborhood bird.

There are many ways to deal with this and it seems to me that Ms Worthy's chosen response is fairly extreme. I'm not saying that what she's chosen to do is *illegal*. I am saying that her decisions seem fairly unusual and extreme. I obviously don't have data, but I'm betting that most outdoor cat owners reading this can't recall many of their neighbors who have campaigned as Ms Worthy has to keep a cat out of her yard and confined to the house.

The question is then, who is not being neighborly? I'd suggest it is Ms Worthy, at least in part. Is she wrong about having the legal right to exclude Frankie from her property? Almost certainly not, but neighborliness isn't defined strictly by legal property rights. An analogy is to loud music. Legally, I'm sure I have the right to tell my neighbor who occasionally has backyard parties in the evening to turn down their music. That I choose to forego all of my strict legal rights in order to allow my neighbor to enjoy hosting a party for their friends once in a while is what makes my behavior neighborly. Their behavior isn't unexpected or wildly unusual, and I did choose to buy a house within easy earshot of several other houses with yards where people live who presumably have friends and who predictably might want to host the occasional party.

So I overlook some nuisances once in a while, and we all manage to get along. Even though I have the legal right to complain bitterly to the police about my neighbor's loud music, I make the choice not to, because I want to be neighborly.

The issue of cats killing birds is a completely different issue because presumably Frankie isn't killing Ms. Worthy's birds. I don't know the science, but the information provided by Peter J. Wolf in this thread passes the sniff test for me. Birds have been preyed on by felines and other predators for a long time, and I find it hard to believe that we humans who have unquestionably eliminated many predators and destroyed bird habitat have harmed bird populations in any significant sense by letting our domestic cats roam.

As for longevity of cats, I do believe that you can keep a cat alive longer by confining it to the house forever. But cats are predators, and they do like to roam. Should you trade off longevity for quality-of-life as Ms Worthy suggests? That's a tough question for all cat owners, but I suggest that either choice is reasonable.
Robb Cadwell
Robb Cadwell Subscriber
Aug 24, 2013 08:56 PM
Actually Carey I've lived in towns where unleashed cats were against the law and other towns where dogs were free to roam. Depends on the town. If you are missing a cat it might well be those folks with the great vegetable garden.

The science is unambiguous and long standing. Cats are a domestic, there is no wild variety of the housecat, only ferals, they've caused the extinction of numerous species. If you can imagine any other issue involved in bird mortality, lead bullets, wind power, buildings, they all pale in comparison to the sheer number and variety of birds killed by cats. Google is your friend.

That said there are many issues environmental much more profound and pressing. Climate change, loss of habitat, etc. But just as we make an effort not to burn too much carbon or grow too much blue grass, so too should we strive harm the wildlife surrounding us as little as possible. Being aware of, and possibly containing housecats, within our houses, is certainly something any aware and responsible environmentalist should consider.

Carey Cuprisin
Carey Cuprisin
Aug 24, 2013 09:51 PM
Robb Cadwell writes "The science is unambiguous and long standing. Cats are a domestic, there is no wild variety of the housecat, only ferals, they've caused the extinction of numerous species."

I'm worried that the distinction between feral cats, on the one hand, and clearly domestic housecats who are allowed to roam outside is being elided. They are not the same.

I haven't done an exhaustive review, but many of the studies I find on a quick Google search address the problem of feral cats. The cat at issue here is not feral, he's a domestic outdoor cat. I'd like some data on the impact of domestic outdoor cats on bird populations. I suspect that it isn't catastrophic (no pun is intended, but it is a pretty good one, no?)

One can be in favor of reducing the number of feral cats by spaying/neutering housecats, and simultaneously be in favor of allowing pet cats to roam outside. That's the position I take. If there is persuasive evidence that domestic outdoor cats are the environmental threat that Ms Worthy thinks they are, I'm prepared to change my mind. Shouldn't be too hard to find links, if those studies exist.

Again, I take no position on the legality one way or the other of outdoor domestic house cats. That has no relevance to my argument. I speak only about social norms, which are a different thing. If you were to tell me that the social norm governing outdoor cats varies from town to town, I'd be skeptical but wouldn't reject it out of hand, since I haven't surveyed every town. I just haven't experienced any towns where the social norm is that pet cats be kept inside or confined to your yard.

Mr Cadwell writes "If you can imagine any other issue involved in bird mortality, lead bullets, wind power, buildings, they all pale in comparison to the sheer number and variety of birds killed by cats." Still not passing the sniff test. Happy to look at any links to studies you can post, though.
martin weiss
martin weiss Subscriber
Aug 25, 2013 03:38 AM
While walking my two big dogs in a semi-wild city park on the outskirts of my small town, I spied a kitten up a tree. Put the dogs in the truck and called the kitten down and took him home. So the dilemma of safety vs. freedom is familiar. Running free, the little guy has little chance of surviving. In fact I saw a cat looking like one of his litter mates flattened on a highway. Coyotes also make quick lunches of cats. Plus on the loose he would just make more homeless kittens. I also feed wild birds. My cat is fascinated by them even through the window screen. I can't attract birds only to have my cat prey on them. So the only way for a cat to survive without problems is in the house. It's a tough world out there and though his existence is circumscribed by confinement, it's better than nothing. Plus I get all the birdsong and dove calls. Having found him so young, he thinks I'm a surrogate mom. I do the best I can. I'm in it for life.
Malcolm McMichael
Malcolm McMichael
Aug 25, 2013 07:34 AM
At the risk of getting my face clawed off, I'd like to suggest that the pro-free-range cat faction stop invoking property rights and neighborliness in defense of unwelcome domestic cats that are allowed to repeatedly dig, defecate, and kill birds on their neighbor's property.
Mark M Rostenko
Mark M Rostenko
Aug 25, 2013 07:49 AM
i'm all for letting your cats run about outside - i've found that "free-range cats" taste MUCH MUCH better than cats locked up indoors and raised on that crappy canned food and kibble... keep 'em coming, ladies! I HUNGRY!!!
Teresa McGill
Teresa McGill
Aug 25, 2013 09:31 AM
What is wrong with you? What are you going to do next, remove every cat that comes near your house? This is the dumbest thing I have ever read. And from a supposedly educated person. Scary to say the least. Well I have turned this article into the police and the Idaho Humane Society just to see if they feel the same way, good luck.
Crista Worthy
Crista Worthy Subscriber
Aug 25, 2013 10:58 AM
To respond to Carey Cuprisin's request for links to studies, the original study cited is at http://www.nature.com/[…]/ncomms2380.html although you cannot read it in its entirety without payment. However, it is well summarized here: http://nationalzoo.si.edu/[…]/default.cfm?id=128. As for numbers, the study found that domestic cats kill between 1.4 and 3.7 billion birds and between 6.9 and 20.7 billion small mammals each year in the contiguous United States. They estimate that 69% of that total are killed by "un-owned cats"—such as farm and barn cats, strays, colony cats, and feral cats. However, that leaves 31% of the total killed by domestic, owned, pet cats. 31% of between 1.4 and 3.7 billion birds and between 6.9 and 20.7 billion small mammals each year is still a very large number. The worldwide problem of feral cats is huge and very difficult to solve. I take no position on whether TNR helps or hurts. I simply said that only YOU can solve the problem of YOUR cat. Would I have a problem with one dead bird in the yard every few months? No. But every day, day after day? Yes.
Crista Worthy
Crista Worthy Subscriber
Aug 25, 2013 11:05 AM
I am relieved to see at least a few posts begin to revolve around the issues rather than against me personally. The personal attacks against me, the author of this Op-Ed, are false, ridiculous, and cause people to lose sight of the actual point of the story. I was invited by HCN to write an Op-Ed and then later specifically encouraged to write on this topic after I suggested it. Space considerations meant that many details were left out.

Regarding the danger to cats of letting them roam: as a child, our family had four cats, in succession. Each disappeared in about three years. One was hit by a car. The other three were “lost”. They were probably killed by coyotes, as we lived near the hills where coyotes roamed. My girlfriend saw two coyotes come onto her driveway, catch her pet cat, and rip it in half right there, before running off with the pieces of her dead cat.

After college I worked for one year as a veterinary assistant. Almost every day, someone would bring in a very sick cat. Inevitably, the cat would have a large lump under its skin somewhere. We would examine it and find a puncture wound, mostly healed over, where the cat had been bitten by another cat. The tooth makes a narrow puncture and carries bacteria inside. Cats heal quickly, so the skin heals over, sealing the bacteria inside in an anaerobic environment. Then, it’s off to the races as the bacteria multiply and form an abscess. Usually the owner wouldn’t notice anything until the lump became large and the cat became listless, perhaps many days after the bite. By then the cat would be at death’s door with an extremely high fever. Our only option to save the cat would be to operate. The vet would open the wound and drain it. On one cat we got slightly more than eight ounces of foul-smelling pus from one abscess. The vet would then insert a drain into the huge wound, after scraping away the necrotic tissue, and keep the cat hospitalized until it was well enough to remove the drain and go home. Sometimes the same cat would come in several times, with new bites in other areas. Cats are territorial. Put them outside, and even neutered cats will fight and sometimes get bitten. Can you imagine how bad the cat must feel, with a huge, pus-filled abscess like that? How would you feel?

When one of our veterinary clients gave me a kitten, I kept him inside. I wasn’t going to subject him to cat fights, or some of the other things I had seen at the clinic. Would you like to see the inside of a cat that has been hit by a car and is still alive, as you try to put its insides back together while its owner is crying in the waiting room? Their organs look like you mixed them all around. Not my cat. He got lots of attention and lived happily indoors and died of old age in his sleep, a few months before his 19th birthday. The Humane Society says the average outdoor cat lives 3–4 years. Sure, there are exceptions. But the statistics overwhelmingly show that letting your cat out is likely to drastically shorten its life. Feel free to read this from the Humane Society: https://www.idahohumanesociety.org/[…]/Cats%20Indoor%20vs%20Outdoors.pdf

To those who accuse me of cat “theft” and sentencing “sweet Frankie to death” by taking him to the shelter, back up a minute and pay attention to what actually happened. Our neighborhood is surrounded by conservation easements. There are birds all over, not just on my property. We have a natural marsh, streams, and lots of open space. Signs posted near the marsh remind residents not to allow their dogs into the marsh to disturb wildlife. Our neighbors are very responsible with their dogs; they aren’t left outside to bark all day, and, when their owners take them for a walk, the dogs are either leashed or walking right beside their owners. I have never seen a dog here running loose without its owner. The town council has also placed little boxes with plastic “Mutt Mitts”, hand-shaped baggies, so that owners will pick up after their dogs when they poop. All good. By the way, 20-30 years ago, you almost never saw dog owners anywhere do such a thing. But now it is not OK to let your dog poop on your neighbor’s front lawn and leave it there.

After moving here and noticing all the above, I also noticed a lot of loose cats wandering around. They were all in good health, with collars, so they were not feral cats. I occasionally wondered how many of them hunted in the marsh, which is full of nesting birds every spring and summer. Last year I began to notice a particular black and white cat in my yard, and chased him out a number of times. I work at home.

By this spring, the black and white cat was coming into my yard 6 or 7 times a day, digging up my flowers, defecating all over, and killing an average of one bird a day. I saw him kill perhaps a dozen, but most of the time I’d find the body in the grass somewhere, ripped open but mostly uneaten, and covered in yellowjackets (wasps). The yellowjackets attacked me if I tried to clean it up, so I had to wait until after dark to remove the mess, picking up the gross dead bird with one hand and holding a flashlight with the other. I knew the quail would soon have babies and I worried they would all be eaten. I tried several store-bought preparations that are supposed to deter cats from using your yard as a latrine; they didn’t work and cost me a lot of money. People advised me to pepper spray the cat; I said no, that would be cruel to the cat. Others said I should pick him up and give him a 20-mile one-way car ride, and then open the door. That’s just another version of the Shoot, Shovel, and Shut Up policy many employ to rid their property of federally endangered species—a tactic I abhor.

Then, coincidentally, a postcard arrived in the mail from our town council, with a few sentences specifically asking all residents to keep their cats inside to protect birds nesting in the marsh. Now I knew they were concerned about cats. I contacted the town council president who told me it’s been a real problem for years. I also learned it is a violation of our CCRs for any pet to leave its owner’s property unless it is leashed. The council president said if I would photograph the cat on my property and obtain ID on it, that he would issue a CCR violation to the cat owner. So the next day, when the cat came into my yard, instead of chasing him away, I took photos of him, and then I picked him up to read his tag with his name, Frankie, and his owner’s contact info.

(By the way, despite my having chased him away countless times, Frankie was obviously tame, friendly, and used to humans. For those of you who think your tame cat loses its hunting instinct or effectiveness, that’s not true. )

Next, I called the owners on the phone; no answer. But I left a complete message about the problem, my name and number, and asked them to call me to discuss the situation. No response. I did this several times. After no response, I sent the photos to the town council president, who said he would immediately issue them a CCR violation. Still no response. Still more poop and dead animals.

I called the Humane Society for any suggestions they might have to solve this problem. They said I should bring the cat in. They said this cat had clearly developed a behavior pattern of using my yard as its toilet and hunting grounds, and was unlikely to stop. They said many people don’t want to keep a litter box in their home. They don’t want the hassle or the responsibility, so they essentially foist their cat’s feces onto their neighbors. They said it is legal to bring in any animal on your private property, if you do not want it there (I also called the Sheriff to confirm this). Legally, the animal is trespassing. If the animal has ID, they will contact the owners and then explain the problem to the owners when they come to pick up their pet. They said that with unresponsive owners, sometimes this is the only thing that works.

I wrote a letter explaining in detail the problems of letting your cat out, both the damage cats cause to wildlife and the very real dangers that cats are exposed to. I put this letter on Frankie’s owner’s door and asked them to contact me, writing my number on it. I warned the owners that soon I would take the cat to the shelter if they did not respond. I also delivered the letter to all the neighbors.

The next day I saw Frankie chasing several quail and chased him away. Later, however, I found a dead adult mail quail on the side of the house. At this time the quail were all paired off and it would be around hatching time. I’d had enough. When Frankie arrived the following day I picked him up, put him in a box in the back seat, and we were off to the shelter. On the way, he got out of the box and came to the front and sat in my lap and began to purr. Clearly he wasn’t upset. We proceeded. I carried him in, still calm, and handed him over. I gave the owner’s contact info to the volunteer (he also had his collar on). I was assured the owners would be contacted right away. Before I left, I asked about him and they said he was calmly lying down in the back. I then walked through the area of cats up for “adoption”, those tame enough to make good pets. I know the rest are killed. I also knew Frankie would be going home. I decided I would keep bringing him in if I had to. I also decided I would not bring in any other cats unless I knew their owner’s contact info, to ensure that they would also go home.

When I got home, I called the shelter to check and was told the owners had been notified and would soon pick Frankie up. Now, finally, before they would be allowed to retrieve him, they would have to sit down and hear, straight from the Humane Society, what both I and the town council had been trying to tell them about their cat, but they had ignored.

Several days later, the town council president sent emails to the owners, offering to have a 3-way meeting to discuss the situation, but there was never a response. But you know what? So far anyway—it worked. I have no more cat poop in my yard. I have no more dead birds in my yard. I have no more Frankie in my yard. It has been almost two months.

Do I intend to remove any cat that comes near my house? Of course not. I waited nearly two years to take action on this problem cat, after all other avenues had been thoroughly exhausted. No other cats have gone to the shelter.

Even better: before I sent out the letter that was long enough to thoroughly explain the damage cats cause to wildlife, the fact that it is against our CCRs for cats to roam, the hazards to cats of being outside, and the un-neighborliness of allowing your cat to defecate in your neighbor’s yard, I was seeing at least half a dozen cats walk through the neighborhood every day. Since people got the message, I have seen exactly one. Earlier, I said our neighbors are very conscientious about their dogs. I believe most of our cat owners simply hadn’t really thought about these issues with regard to their cats. Once it was pointed out to them, that’s what they did—think.

The people here do care about our wildlife. They value our open space. Many of them have National Wildlife “Certified Backyard Habitat” signs on their front lawns. I see bird feeders all over the place. And by the way, to the posters who chastised me for feeding birds: Not only are a few handfuls of seed on my property and a bird feeder my business, the National Wildlife Federation, Audubon Society, and a number of other conservation organizations encourage all Americans to provide food, water, and shelter to birds and other wildlife. Even people with small yards or just a window box can make a difference. Climate change, habitat destruction, toxic chemicals, high-rise buildings, and many other human-caused events have made survival difficult for many species; they need all the help they can get. Birdwatching is one of America’s most popular recreational activities, something you can do on a trip or from inside your home. When your kids can see birds up close at a bird feeder, it can help ignite an interest in wildlife and the outdoors that can last forever. We need to take care of our wildlife, and we need to encourage the next generation to do so as well.

It is fairly accepted now in America that you do not allow your dog to roam on your neighbor’s property, nor do you allow your dog to poop in your neighbor’s yard. You pick up after your dog. You don’t let your dog roam free, to be lost, injured, or killed by a car. What is the difference with a cat? It’s time to start taking responsibility for all our pets. You alone can’t solve the problem of feral cats, but YOU ALONE can solve the problem of YOUR CAT. I think it’s high time we begin to change our attitude about free-roaming cats, and that’s why I wrote this piece.

 
Christopher Howard
Christopher Howard
Aug 25, 2013 01:33 PM
I am quite shocked by the vitriol and hate coming from people over a domesticated species of animal which serves no real purpose beyond companionship. If these were pigs and chickens no one would be voicing such advocacy. Crista Worthy's article, facts, comments, and actions were spot on. Free ranging domestic cats and feral cats kill billions of animals per year. They are not bad animals. They are doing what comes instinctively to them. When your little kitty chases a laser pointer or toy it is not doing so to entertain you. The movements of the laser or toy are initiating responses hard-wired into their brains. The same as birds, amphibians, insects, and rodents do when they are wandering around outside. There is an entire contingent of people who claim to love wildlife who become raging lunatics at the thought of limiting or containing their cats in any way. I have encountered the same absolute lack of decency or self-restraint from them as Ms. Worthy has when it comes to any mention of the problems outdoor cats present. Some of this has been face-to-face, some has been in a classroom setting in a wildlife biology class. These folks are unable to recognize that some of us do not see cats as unassailable, and all are unable to divorce their emotions from a factual issue. It is sad to see science, and the responsible actions of a wildlife advocate and property owner, being pushed aside and disregarded by a fringe group who cannot accept that their beloved pets are, fundamentally, wasteful killers. In wildlife management their actions are called subsidized predation. This can lead to extirpation of a species, especially individuals or species which have become dependent upon or used to using habitats close to homeowners. This problem is wide ranging, and there are actually requests from USFWS and the county near our house to monitor your cats and have them spayed or neutered. I support the idea of using pellet guns or slingshots to remove cats from areas used by native wildlife. The police and animal control capture or kill dogs which are roaming around and killing or harassing wildlife. In Montana, any pet on private or public property harassing livestock or wildlife may be lethally removed by a citizen. Responsible pet owners who are care about their animals and feel that their animal's well being is their responsibility should not allow their pet to wander unrestrained. In other words, don't get a pet, let it loose, and expect the entire neighborhood to tolerate it's behavior. In response to Peter Wolf's comments, he is highly biased and his website and opinions ignore fundamental facts in the arguments provided by ornithologists and biologists. He actually believes that there is some grand conspiracy against cats being perpetrated by the CDC. Sound rational? As far as Ms Cusprisin's responses, she is portraying this an issue of tolerance akin to neighborliness, such as they occasional loud music or party from a neighbor. Really? If your neighbor was randomly shooting birds and squirrels with a pellet gun would you tolerate this as a " good neighbor"? Susan Rabatine's comments are obviously from someone who will not be convinced otherwise. The repsonses of a lot of folks who were quite upset by this Op-Ed piece remind me of the same response of the "wild" (feral)horse and burro advocates who will continue to disregard fact and science to further their cause. Ultimately, all of those screaming their outrage and dissent over the removal of outdoor cats just highlight our culture's disconnect with the natural world and the continued onslaught of anthropogenic change being wrought upon the planet.
Alexandra Phillip
Alexandra Phillip
Aug 25, 2013 06:44 PM
Crista Worthy, you provoked the personal attacks on yourself. You chose to write this little article to vent your own frustration with the neighbor's cat, and have made your own action a central part of it. What reaction exactly were you expecting? Applause for being such a hero for the birds? I agree with Carey, you are a bad neighbor and I am glad not to live in your neighborhood.

Christopher Howard - "a domesticated species of animal which serves no real purpose beyond companionship".
How invaluable do you consider this companionship? In addition to the enormous subjective value an animal has to its owner, I suggest you look into the positive effects of pet ownership on physical and psychological health. From teaching children responsibility and caring for others, to relieving the loneliness many senior citizens experience in this society... that's "no real purpose" to you?
The angry reaction of some, myself included, just shows how strong this human-animal bond is. Our companion animals are part of our society and have been for a long time, so it is naive to expect anything else.