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Mollison's anti-cat discussion

 
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Gotcha covered....video of cat herding in the west.

 
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...and if you see it on the internet, it MUST be true. I should look into that. And I totally forgot about the function stacking cats do where it comes to dogs: they serve as entertainment, excercise, stress relief, and an all-in-one raw food diet.

-CK
 
Jay Green
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And you don't have to feed the cats...save you money if you let them just hunt for their own food! It's a win/win, really.
 
Chris Kott
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Except that they'll kill anything smaller than themselves, carefully taking the complexity and natural pest controls out of any system.

-CK
 
Jay Green
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No, they don't kill anything smaller than themselves at all...we have a huge bird life and rodent life here and one cat in residence with several feral tom cats hunting the same territory. You'd really need to have actual herds or prides of cats to "eat anything smaller than themselves" so badly that it decimates the ecosystem.

That's like saying the lions are detrimental to the African veld...the wildlife tends to even itself out if left alone, and all animals are prey for another. Domesticated cats are not an apex predator, as they make handy food for foxes, coyotes, owls and hawks.

 
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People need to hear those studies showing one cat will kill an average of 75 other anials in two weeks.
Cats kill federally endangered, rare, long-tailed shrews. These shrews ae wonderful soil tillers, and do not eat your garden. They eatthe insects.
Cats destroy my bluewbirds, which are innocent ground feeders who do not know that "cats" exist. So I ask people not to add to cats if they want to bring cats to my place, and to keep cats they do have in a cattery building.
Mountain lions and Bobcats are just as much fun as house cats, but people just don't know it.
 
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There is a cat here we call Orange. He showed up and acted calm enough around our old 18 year old outdoor cat that we let him hang around. From his behavior we think that he is a neutered tom cat, and fairly feral. We have never been much closer than 10 feet to him. After a period of seeing him limping around and then not seeing him for like 3 weeks we assumed he was dead. He showed up to the house one day, actively hunting, watched him catch a chipmunk, I turned away for about 10 seconds and he had already eaten it. There was food in the bowl, and he showed no interest in it. This was a little while after our old cat passed, and the food was just going to the opossums and raccoons so we stopped leaving it out there. It has been like a month since I have seen him, but I saw him about 3 hours ago, laying on the driveway. Probably enjoying the warmth, probably hunting whatever it comes across. We don't feed him, how else is it expected to survive? He is beyond domestication, and I just think he is a neat animal. He found this place, and decided to make it home, wanted nothing to do with us and lives like a cat in the wild would naturally live. It is fascinating to witness a cat hunting to survive, there is so much patience, waiting so long for the perfect moment to pounce. When a feral cat catches a small animal, it is ready to eat it.Orange is fascinating, he shows up just long enough that we know he is still here, lowest maintenance cat ever. It would take a tranquilizer gun to get him to a vet, and it would be a hunt to even find him, we are not planning on putting him through that ordeal.

Orange is not a pet, he is a wild animal that inhabits this place. For some reason this place attracts cats, they just come out of the woods. Some of them have made good indoor and outdoor cats. Our older cat had multiple litters in her life and we kept one of the kittens and I don't care how unbelievable it seems but this cat thought it was a squirrel dog, drool and all. It would track and chase them down after shooting and "catch" them. Sadly this cat got eaten by coyotes. Probably will never again find another cat that could ever be a feasible hunting companion. Its one of the risk you take keeping your cats outside.
 
Greta Fields
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Thee was a TV program about feral cats in Australia some years back. It showed hoardes of feral cats which have destroyed the ecology in parts of Australia. They are like a plague of locusts there.
Feral cats have also destroyed the ecology in other places. They do not seem to fit into a wild ecology at all. I have had 8 cats during my lifetime, but I don't want more. One cat wiped out entire families of bluebirds in my yard. They do not always hunt to eat, like the cat you describe. They hunt to play with their prey too. They will catch a bird or mouse and maul it slowly to death.
Maybe they would eventually adapt to the wilds, but in Australia, the wild have not adapted to the cats.
 
steward
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In Australia, cats are not native. They were introduced.
That is the main problem in Australia: introducing a hunter into a system, where most of their prey had no previous hunters. The cats easily adapted to hunting prey that was totally unaware of the hunter/prey scenario. They had no inborn defense.

If one were to introduce Polar Bears to Antarctica, seal populations would quickly dwindle there.

 
Greta Fields
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Cats and rats were introduced to Hawaii, and they have devastated some ground feeding bird species, including a colorful raven.
 
pollinator
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Out of curiosity, I've read through this discussion. The overall impression I get is that it depends upon the individual situation. Very highly variable. cats may not be welcome in some places, but an asset in others.

On Big Island Hawaii, while feral cats are a problem for the conservationists protecting the shore birds and nene, the mongoose by far is the worse offender when it comes to ground bird loss. The mongoose will attack just about any sized bird. I've even had them kill 5 month old chickens .... 17 of them at one attack! The young pullets were in a large roofed over pen, not able to get away and not smart enough to stay put on a perch. I've also seen a mongoose take young turkeys.

Anyway getting back to cats. On my homestead farm cats are the only successful solution I've had in dealing with roof rats. The rats quickly learn to avoid traps. Smart buggahs. And rat poison isn't used on my farm in order to protect the endangered Io and Pueo.

Out of my 8 cats, only one has ever caught birds. In the past 2 years he has succeeded in 4 bird kills. On the other hand, one of my dogs killed a minimum of 7 birds a week, mostly zebra doves and spotted doves. Based on that, should dogs be banned from permaculture? Won't happened on my farm. Both dgs and cats have their place.

...Su Ba
www.kaufarmer.blogspot.com
 
Greta Fields
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Su Ba,
I read a book about the Hawaiian ravens being destroyed by rats. I think it was The Sacred Raven. It was by a Florida journalist. It made me decide NEVER to trust government researchers again, because it told how the state and federal agencies wee all fighting over who got the Million dollar grants to protect these ravens. Meanwhile, the ravens were being neglected, dying and abused in the cages of the greedy researchers. It made me cry, thinking of ravens dying in the clutches of greedy researchers!!!
The last I read, all wild ravens are extinct in Hawaii, but they have 30 in cages.
How do you know that your cat only killed a few birds? There was a TV program showing research done on house cats. They were shocked to find out that the average house cat kills 75 small mammals and birds every two weeks.
After I lost all my cats by attrition, I never got another cat. They upset the balance in nature, I think. I think cats should be controlled.
My dogs would definitely kill big birds in Hawaii. They killed my ducks. A crow flew into y living room last week, and a dog went for it. It got out the kitchen widow.
You like birds? I cut my long Indian braids 2 weeks ago (in mourning for a dying mountain). A hummingbird has touched the back of my head twice since. It's too late to build a nest with hair -- I think he is just curious. He sat on my shoulder last summer and watched me dig! Once, he screamed "Bloody murder", and made me leave my perch on top of a house. The next second, a mountain lion landed right where I had been sitting. The hummingbird literally saved my life.
Crows, ravens and woodpeckers have also kept the mountain lions from surprising me!!!
Greta
 
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I just don't believe "the average house cat kills 75 small mammals and birds every two weeks" study. I would have to see more of the data. That would equal to more than 5 animals killed everyday by each cat in the world. I have a feral cat that we tamed. He lives out doors in an extra rabit hutch. He eats tons of cat food. When he kills something he will always bring it to the door step for us to see. He has only killed a couple of birds but lots of mice in the spring. We used to have a mouse problem but no longer. He sleeps all day so that would mean he would have to have killed 5 animals every night. There is no way he could eat that many and still finish off his cat food. And if he didnt eat them then we would have bodies everywhere. I could definetly see how an overpopulation of cats can hurt the ecosystem but doesn't that apply to every species? Like everything its all about balance. We control our cat population here with my blue tick coonhound. He is friends with our cat so they team up to chase any visiting cats away. Because of that we have plenty of diversity of small mammals and birds here. The few animals my cat does kill I just consider it as natural selection.
 
John Polk
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I just don't believe "the average house cat kills 75 small mammals and birds every two weeks" study.



I'm with you Adam. I don't believe that the average feral cat, who depends on hunting to survive, kills that many.
Domestic cats, who are accustomed to an endless supply of kibble, and a can of Friskies every day will still hunt, as it is their nature to do so. But even the ones that we consider "good hunters" are unlikely to average more than one kill per day. If I had a house cat that killed 365 animals in a year, I'd consider it a 'freak' - a killing machine!

I had a male Siamese that I considered a good hunter. He eliminated the mice that lived in our garage, but it took him over a year to do it. He might have been getting a couple a day at first, but soon it was perhaps a couple per week. Eventually, they were gone altogether.

Mice are prolific breeders - they make rabbits look like Monks! Anybody who stores animal feeds all year long is likely to attract mice sooner or later, and a cat or two will keep it from getting out of control. The occasional lizard, snake, bird or frog is a small price to pay for keeping the rodents out of the system. Nature has a way of balancing everything out if we don't push it too far out of balance to begin with.
 
Chris Kott
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Both times we got cats at home coincided with a disappearance of all indoor pests. I had a great grey tabby who would not only kill two a day, he would do it in my room to wake me, and to put me to sleep. He'd bat them around for about a half hour, then proceeded with the crunch slurp smack. Every single day until they disappea4ed, and whenever he could get them otherwise. Cats are not only that capable, they are dedicated predators, by and large. They, as any other animal, is a potential hazard without some form of population control.

-CK
 
Greta Fields
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Haha. I never heard so many guys defend blankety blank cats, haha.
All I can say is, I saw a special on television showing the study which concluded that a cat kills an average of 75 birds and mammals every 2 weeks.
Of course, if you live in a place already depleted of life, your cat may not be able to kill that many. But how would you be sure? These researchers put tracking devices on the cats.
I saw another film where they put cameras on cats to show where cats go. Some cats were very unfaithful to their owners. They lived in 2-3 households, which they visited daily in turn, haha.
YEAH: Cats are unfaithful!!!
Who needs a cat? I have a blacksnake who looks like a double water hose coiled up on my patio. He comes in the attic at night eating mice. I can hear him up there, ZAP. ZAP. ZAP. One day, the copperheads tried to come in. They lurked around a log in my yard, then moved closer, to the back step, then closer, into the back door. I took a rake and shoved them backwards at the door and they never came back in.
Then, all the "mountain rats" disappeared, and this made me sad. Mountain rats are not your normal rats. They sit up like squirrels. They plays games at night, like those toys in the cartoon movie. They used to bounce my dog's ball down the steps, and catch it before it hit bottom. Over and Over. I thought, that is impossible? They had to be throwing the ball down the steps, then running down to the bottom and catching it before it hit. I heard it, over and over. Cute, not like rats at all.
Last summer, a rattlesnake woke me up crawling past my bedroom window buzzing, as he went into the basement under my room Who needs guard dogs in the basement?
 
Su Ba
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Greta posted: "the ravens were being neglected, dying and abused in the cages of the greedy researchers. "

Really? You've been to the Hawaiian crow breeding center? Neglected? Dying? Abused? Greedy researchers? Really?

The facility you are referring to happens to be on my island. I've been there!!! Have you? Being in veterinary medicine, I've had access to behind the scenes information and reports. I've seen firsthand the flight cages. These are very, very large. Every bird is extremely valuable and cared for extremely well by dedicated attendants.

I believe that if a person is going to post damaging material, one should qualify it with valid, reputable references.

By the way, the reason for their extinction is not understood. They once inhabited all of Hawaii, but went extinct in other areas well before the introduction of cats. Avian malaria and fowl pox are thought to have played a major factor. Their main predator was the I'o, the Hawaiian hawk, not cats.

...Su Ba
 
Greta Fields
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Su Ba, no no no. the facility that I am referring to is not the one in Hawaii.
The book is called Seeking the Sacred Raven, by J. Walters, and is a journalist's history of the alala , a colorful Hawaiian raven.
There is a story in this book about many fine people working to save the ravens. One of them was a woman living in Hawaii. She paid her own way to California to take a dead bird to a research lab to find out the cause of death, and she was shocked to discover dead birds in the lab. My memory has it, she went back to Hawaii and got cages there -- maybe those cages are the same ones you are referring to now.
The woman was just a citizen, but the other people involved wee researchers from different agencies in state and federal government. All of them wanted to get the million dollar grants to preserve the ravens, but were mistreating the ravens in their care.
Also, I believe the book said rats were the main cause of their deaths, and the rats were not native to Hawaii.
I don't know what has happened since. However, a current book review says that there are now 50 ravens alive. I think there were only 30 at the end of the book.
No, I have never been to Hawaii.
I know personally some dedicated zoologists -- greatest people you would ever want to meet. However, I also know researchers who seem to have no ethics. A tobacco scientist, for ex., told me how the university scientists were deliberately trying to breed tobacco that was addictive. He himself was dying of cancer, and was rebelling against the culture that he had been part of. He was the biggest p.r. spokesman for tobacco in Kentucky.
 
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Deb Stephens wrote:
The really interesting thing about domestic felines when it comes to prey is that studies show they actually INCREASE the populations of house mice in areas where those mice are not native and occur in competition with the less destructive native rodent species. Here is a short quote from that study... (cited on page 8 within this paper... "The impact of domestic cat (Felis catus) on wildlife welfare and conservation: a literature review..." http://www.tau.ac.il/lifesci/zoology/members/yom-tov/inbal/cats.pdf)

In California, a two-year study (Hawkins, 1998 ) was conducted in two parks with
grassland habitat in the East Bay Regional Park District. One park had no cats, and in
the other park there were more than 20 cats that were fed daily. There were almost
twice as many birds seen in the park with no cats than in the park with cats. California
thrashers (Toxostoma redivivum) and California quail (Callipepla californica),
common ground nesting birds were seen during surveys in the no-cat area while they
were never seen in the cat area. In addition, over 85 percent of the native deer mice
(Peromyscus maniculatus) and harvest mice (Reinthrodontomys megalotis) trapped
were in the no cat area, whereas 79 percent of the house mice (Mus musculus), which
is an exotic species to California and considered as pest, were found in the cat area.
According to Hawkins (1998 ) "cats at artificially high densities, sustained by
supplemental feeding, reduce abundance of native rodent and bird populations,
change the rodent species composition, and may facilitate the expansion of the house
mouse into new areas..." (Hawkins, 1998 ).


So, This study proves the birds and indigenous mice are smarter than foreign house mice! They moved to the safe area!

 
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This is the folly of fundamental statements like Bill made here. There is no right or wrong answer that applies to every situation. It became normalised thought that cats are always bad somewhere in the early 90s I believe, that if you're an environmentalist you must accept this dogma. It’s the environmentalist bigotry. Bigotry never dies, that’s one fundamental rule I believe in, it just changes colour.

Environmentalists love biological control done by scientists - even though success is extremely rare - but for the oldest one known to man, that cats biologically control rats, it is despised. I don’t understand that really.
 
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If you are working on a dairy farm or any sort of operation where there is a lot of grain and high protean feed being used, you are going to have mice and rats.  Rats easily make their way into your corn crib and into any shed where your feed suppliments are stored.  Rats piss all over everything.  They are basically incontinent, dribbling urine all over as they move around.  5 rats become 50 rats in 3 months.  50 rats become 500 rats in 6 months.  That's a lot of vermin, pissing all over everything, chewing through bags/wires/leather/everything.

Rats are gross.  

They bite.  They scurry around and scare the crap out of you.  They poop all over everything, piss all over everything and drag their filthy bodies all over everything.  They'll get in your garden and chew on seedlings and fruit.  I will not co-exist with rats.  

Having a couple of barn cats takes care of that problem.  The key is that you don't let the cat population get too large.  You do that by feeding them so that you can select the ones you want to keep and the ones you'll need to cull every so often.  On a dairy, obviously, you'll have fresh milk.  With a holler of "Kitty-kitty-kitty", they'll come running when you pour some warm, fresh milk in their pan every morning and night after you've milked.  Anyone who says you can't train a cat to come hasn't witnessed this simple call where the multi-generational descendants of barn cats that have been fed fresh whole milk twice a day for decades.  With one, "Kitty, kitty, kitty", they are conditioned to come running.

Mmmm . . . warm whole milk.

I would certainly make as strong an argument for cats being a part of a permaculture system as I would dogs or any other service animal.
 
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Just watch this

 
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Maybe having a white cat which you can spray with some fancy colours even(like red or pink), also may save few birds, raising the little kitty with small birds can also help with training it not to kill and eat birds.
Very often people blame the animal or the plant etc. for the bad results they get, just because it is much easier this way.
On the other hand I dont think chickens or dogs are able to cope with mice at all.(it is exactly what breeds mice at least my exp.)
But experimenting with a pet owl have some potential for closed spaces imo. I am not sure how that would work outside though...
 
pollinator
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In North America domestic cats are the cause of vast numbers of bird deaths and have contributed to some species’ decline. It’s been documented scientifically.

https://abcbirds.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/Blancher-2013-Estimated-number-of-birds-killed-by-domestic-cats-in-Canada.pdf
 
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We have 5 cats in my house (kind of a Brady Bunch like thing...we had 3, then my son moved back while getting a second degree with his 3....and they somehow formed a family...then one died of old age/cancer....ok that part wasn't in the show) and not one of them kills anything except the occasional bug in the house as well as a few of the plants I try to get started (they killed a rare fig I was rooting....uggh, but I forgave them).  They are indoor cats and they are wonderful.  I feel bad for people who don't have cat love in their lives!!!
 
Greg Martin
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Myrth Montana wrote:In North America domestic cats are the cause of vast numbers of bird deaths and have contributed to some species’ decline. It’s been documented scientifically.


Interestingly there have been several documented cases of extinctions occurring due to animal introductions, but never has there been an extinction clearly documented to come from a plant introduction.  Studying island systems it has become clear that invasive exotic plants lead to a doubling of plant biodiversity on island after island.  The exotics subdivide the niches with the natives and they both continue on.  It's very interesting.
 
Myrth Gardener
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Greg Martin wrote:We have 5 cats in my house (kind of a Brady Bunch like thing...we had 3, then my son moved back while getting a second degree with his 3....and they somehow formed a family...then one died of old age/cancer....ok that part wasn't in the show) and not one of them kills anything except the occasional bug in the house as well as a few of the plants I try to get started (they killed a rare fig I was rooting....uggh, but I forgave them).  They are indoor cats and they are wonderful.  I feel bad for people who don't have cat love in their lives!!!



We have 2 rescue cats, both female, both avid hunters, who are indoor only. They don’t eat what they kill. They kill for fun.

I love them dearly. They are family. One is sitting on my lap at the moment. But in my opinion, based on my reading of various scientific studies, it would not be environmentally responsible to have them outside. I love cats. I love nature. The best solution that I can see is to keep the girls indoors.
 
Greg Martin
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Myrth Montana wrote:We have 2 rescue cats, both female, both avid hunters, who are indoor only. They don’t eat what they kill. They kill for fun.

I love them dearly. They are family. One is sitting on my lap at the moment. But in my opinion, based on my reading of various scientific studies, it would not be environmentally responsible to have them outside. I love cats. I love nature. The best solution that I can see is to keep the girls indoors.



I just popped over to your site Myrth and your girls are gorgeous!  I completely agree with you, it's not fair to unleash our killer kitties on the local wildlife.  It's been a long time since I've had an outdoor cat.  He was a true killer, catching humming birds out of the sky and throwing snakes around like sad ropes.  Never again.  Only indoor babies for me from now on.  
 
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I am obviously a little late to this party...

No, I don't hate cats, and for the record, am currently fostering a desperately ill kitten.  

The issue with pet/owned cats roaming, particularly in suburbia, is that they hunt for sport, not food; often are highly concentrated (a dozen or so per city block), and need only tag a creature to cause it's eventual death.

Cats carry a bacteria called Pasturella, all it takes is a microscopic nick in the skin of a bird or other tiny creature, and within three days it will be dead from blood poisoning - a slow and nasty death. This bacteria is present in the saliva of the majority (80%) of house cats, at least in North America. This is where the horrific death tolls come from, and why the estimates range from a maximim of dozens a day to a minimum of dozens, dead, per week.

The second misnomer is WHO is at risk - the adult birds/mammals are generally safe - it is the babies and fledges (birds unable to fly quite yet) and multitudes of ground Nesters (on average in NA for every tree or cavity nester there are 2-3 ground nesting species). These are not "defective" birds whose DNA is unneeded, these are mammals, birds and their offspring facing insurmountable odds when faced with domestic house cat predation.

No matter how you slice it, domestic house cats are NOT a naturally occurring mammal in our environment; naturally occurring felines hunt for food and when hungry - they do not hunt for trophies. If my dogs were running the neighborhood attacking wildlife, it would not be long before I was fined and harshly admonished; yet it is "okay" for cats?

A farm situation is somewhat different...there I consider them livestock, so long as they stay on YOUR property, I have no right to an opinion. The second they enter MY property, it becomes MY issue, problem, and it must be dealt with. No different from your dog, pig, cow, horse or goat wandering on my property ; or my livestock roaming on YOUR property - NOT okay.

Please understand, for every creature the cat succeeds in outright killing, there are at least 10-20 who were tagged and will die. The ones "rescued " or released, "unharmed" were in fact, already dying. All I ask is that you carefully look at the data on this, before adding outdoor felines to your property - fully consider the ramifications of the birds NOT eating pests: squirrels tilling and planting our forests: cottontails consuming the masses of "weed" species that are harmful in our planted areas...

I am not saying a large acreage cannot support the odd outdoor or barn kitty, but just be sure it is altered (to prevent unplanned breeding), vaccinated (cats GIVE disease to our wild neighbors) and dewormed/parasite control occurs regularily, again, to protect our wild neighbors.
 
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One of the best controls in North America for rodents are foxes, coyotes and wolves as they all eat large numbers of rodents from field mice to rabbits.  Our native bob cats, lynx, and puma are severely threatened and none of them make good pets.  

I am mostly not a fan of cats.  Too many owners dump them outside and I have had to deal with them pooping my freshly tilled garden so often that they killed plants.  Its a big part of the reason I hate living in the city,
 
gardener
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I browsed the whole thread (not following links), and basically agree to what Lorinne said.

I am a cat lover. Since I was 10 and first introduced to cats, they have given me much joy.
Our old cat died (was killed) last summer which made me very sad. But still I have decided for myself not to add another cat to the household. 1. I don't like the heartbreak, 2. I want some independence because as an owner you have responsibility for the next 15-20 years and can't just leave/travel around, 3. The biggest reason for me being the impact on the environment.
I have not only seen this with my own eyes but read enough to come to that conclusion.

Some numbers for Germany:
We have a population of about 83 million with a density of over 232 people per square kilometer (edited to remove the German decimal comma which is a decimal point in English!)
That means we are a densely populated country with towns and intensive farming everywhere.
There are around 15 million cats living in Germany (there are no feral cats).
On my tiny streets, there are cats living in almost every second household. They come to my garden, they catch birds, I had to witness a cat eating a frog a street away (couldn't do anything about it).
Half of the amphibes in Germany are listed as endangered.
We have seen a harsh decline in bird populations (mostly due to intensive farming and land development).
Do I think that cats play a role? Yes, to an extent.
Would I deny a lonely old lady the companionship of a cat? Probably not (but isn't it sad in itself that there are lonely old ladies?).

So, overall:
Cats can give you joy. But it would not be responsible to own a cat (or more) just to feel that joy, that would be selfish.
I am ambiguous about indoor cats. My neighbour switched to indoor cats after their beloved cat was hit by a car. Now the two cats sit alone in the small house all day, getting fat and diabetic. They won't impact wildlife directly but have an environmental impact with all the packed cat food, cat litter etc.

A cat family that is monitored on a farm has its place. But I also see that they do not get the care I would have given my cat (e.g. eye infections go untreated).

I don`t have any solutions, but I say the overall German population has too many pets - with all the negative consequences - while getting out of touch with real nature.
 
pollinator
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Cats are what they are. Cuddly, purry, efficient little killing machines. Unchecked, they can do a lot of harm. I have come to believe it's an owner problem.

We had cats at our previous acreage property, and we settled on an indoor/outdoor routine. The cats would go out at night and whack as many mice as they wanted. But I didn't want them hunting birds during the day. So, first thing in the morning, I would call them and they would come running to get their breakfast and pats, and sleep in the sunroom. It worked quite well.

I wish I could train cat owners in my current neighbourhood to do the same.
 
pollinator
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Lisa Sampson wrote:One of the best controls in North America for rodents are foxes, coyotes and wolves as they all eat large numbers of rodents from field mice to rabbits.  Our native bob cats, lynx, and puma are severely threatened and none of them make good pets.  

I am mostly not a fan of cats.  Too many owners dump them outside and I have had to deal with them pooping my freshly tilled garden so often that they killed plants.  Its a big part of the reason I hate living in the city,



I was cleaning up an average of 2.5 GALLONS of cat feces in my gardens every two days (yes, I quantified it). Additionally, all that scratching was wreaking unholy havoc in my beds. Most of the side and all of the back is fenced (chain link and/or privacy fence). Then I watched how they gained access. I bought wire fencing, cut panels to fit over gaps, holes, etc. and used zip ties on the existing fence to stop most of the access. I still have to clean up out front a little (unfettered access) but not even 10% of my earlier cleanup. There are three feral cats who don't see privacy fence as a barrier and recently another gap pathway has been found. I'll be plugging the latter. I get very little cat scent marking in the fenced portions of the yard anymore. I also don't have the 3-4 dead doves a day I have to clean up. I do still clean up opossum and raccoon crap but they're a naturally occurring part of our fauna and they are far fewer in number than the cats outside the fence.

One day I hope shrews return. Lizards are starting to bounce back a bit.
 
pollinator
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For me it's cats or poison I cannot have rats/voles/mice/watervoles eating all my crops, natural predictors will not work as in season I am outside over half the daylight hours meaning no bird of prey/fox/or weasel type is going to be anywhere near my field, (we do have beech martens in the barn) I've never had a birder cat, though if they would start taking the blackbirds that cost me up to 100% of the berry crop I really would not complain. Just today our little 9 month old tom caught a watervole (which are a big agricultural pest here and classified as vermin) about 10m from us as we were out planting asparagus, since I had just dug up 3 asparagus plants to discover voles had eaten all the roots and just left us the old dead leaves I was even happier to see a dead one. He was praised soundly from a distance while he crunched his way through it (or half of it, they are quite large). We do also have traps out and they can catch 3-4 voles a day in summer but I have to go out and reset them constantly, the cats reset themselves.

The same as any animal it's balance 10 cats in a small garden is going to cause havoc adding cats to an ecosystem where they were not before will do the same.
 
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Ernie Wisner wrote:he he he he. I have met Bill a couple times and i do remember something about Tasmania. I think I have it in my head that he was in NZ because we where talking about how to bring the NZ forests back to life (I know where all the trees went). One of the problems we really had to think about was the mammals. Sheep are OK if folks would stop clearing every inch of land for the meadows. but the rats. stoats, weasels, cats, rabbits, etc would have to be systematically removed in order to bring things close to balance then we would have to figure out how to get several of the great birds back (not that hard these days). I think the thing to bring back first is the top order predator that was master of the islands; The Moa. however I am not sure how humans would handle something that can run a person down and eat them.

I think the removal of small furry critters would handle itself if the great birds where re introduced. after all they eat ground things and all those introduced critters are ground things.



This reminds me of a person around where we used to live in Missouri; he had a pair of Cassowary's; and, like the now extinct Moa, they also will run a human down and kill them. He had to feed them, especially the male, form  outside the pen, behind a strong steel panel where the male could not see him' otherwise, the male would try to get through the barrier to the owner.  The pair had to be kept in a   large pen that had 12 foot tall fences, and then he had  to put the angled brackets up that went inward and had that fenced as well.  The male was extremely aggressive, and thats because they are an apex predator.  Definitely not a modern day velociraptor that I would ever want to mess with.

On the other hand, we have an inside cat, Part Maine Coon, named Pirate. He was a rescue, and is almost 10 years old. We recently adopted by default of feeding her, an outside orange tabby cat that my husband calls Pumpkin, but she has a trill that she does, so I have taken to calling her Jadzia.  Jadzia is an outside cat, period, She will make an occasional  foray into the house, but she prefers to be outside.  She has proven herself to be quite the hunter of both mice and squirrels.

In Dallas, Texas, you have  street savvy rodents,  mice, rats, and squirrels.

We also have an over abundance of squirrels in our neighborhood because we have numerous pecan trees in our neighborhood, and I have 2 in my yard.  As soon as possible, I am getting the pecans  cut down, they both are starting to decay.

Jadzia has proven that she has the street smarts to most definitely catch our street savvy rodents.  We have found half a squirrel, and  bits of mice in  the spots she likes to sun herself at, all neatly covered up by her with leaves, etc. Thats the upside; and now the squirrels who were bent on digging up everything I was trying to plant; will sit and  do their grouch thing in the trees instead because Jadzia is usually nearby, watching.

The downside is that we also found a lizard, a rather large one, that  she had caught as well.  That was about the time when  I had decided to start giving her canned food, so I have not seen anymore of those casualties.

Yes, we feed her. She gets dry food twice a day and wet once a day. She has plenty of water.

She is just a hunter, and there is nothing that will take that out of her; a cat is a cat is a cat.  The mice that now get by her, Pirate  will usually nab if they come in the house, older home, foundation issues, so we are always  making sure anything  that looks like its large enough for anything to come in, gets fixed ASAP; and I am always on the look out for any way they get in; recently, we have determined that if we leave the back door open, they will squeeze in under the screen door, in a corner where it JUST a big enough gap between the door and frame, and really can't be fixed as effectively as I would like.  I am in the process of looking into putting a piece of metal there to keep them out when the inside door is open.

She is what she is, and with  careful management, she is a welcome part to our household.
 
pollinator
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Most of the cats on our property are feral. They are proving to be invaluable for dealing with the ground squirrels. I have taken it upon myself to get them fixed, no small feat with feral cats, but they breed voraciously. I'm honestly surprised that so many of them survive given our predator pressure.
 
pioneer
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A neighbor and I almost went to fisticuffs over his suburban cat killing squirrels for fun. I found three it had killed within an hour of each other.
I suggested he put a bell on the bloody thing. He actually had the cat put down, but that wasn't suggested by me. That is on him.
I'm now out in the country...way out in the country and have adopted a pair of brothers this week. They showed up one day and I gave them some food.
I've seen them catch butterflies and I'm certain they hunt and kill other critters, as well. I feed them a little dry food every morning and they seem to like it. I try not to over feed them so they will go kill mice.
I've also see a mating pair of foxes hovering around. I have lots of rabbits and squirrels they must be eating. It won't surprise me if the cats do end up as meals.
I also have zero issue popping a cap into a cat that kills for fun on my place, including the two I have now.
My BIL loves cats. In fact the brothers I adopted came from his place. He has probably 30 outdoor cats. Some are fixed, most ain't. People like him are the problem.
 
Kim Huse
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Michael Dotson wrote:A neighbor and I almost went to fisticuffs over his suburban cat killing squirrels for fun. I found three it had killed within an hour of each other.

Its one thing to have a cat take out a squirrel to eat it; quite another to have a cat that does it just  to do it, Usually, most cats won't do that. They kill only what they can eat.

 
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