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Mollison's anti-cat discussion

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

 
master pollinator
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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.
 
pollinator
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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

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ytDiJ8G6Isk
 
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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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