Feral Cats - pet, pest or plague?

The full title of this should probably be "Feral Cats and Why I Hate Them". Why do I have 'issues' with these cute little balls of fur?

Here's why....

Some feline experts now estimate 60 million pet cats and 70 million feral cats live in the United States. Britain has an estimated 7 million pet cats and 1 million ferals.

Num num num...

Exact numbers are unknown, but some experts estimate that each year domestic and feral cats kill hundreds of millions of birds, and more than a billion small mammals, including rabbits, squirrels, and chipmunks.

Cute little feral kitten eating the head of a bunny.

Cats can have two litters a year, averaging four kittens a litter. Few survive to become adults but those that do are weaned at 8 weeks and become sexually mature at approximately 12 months.

Adult feral eating the head of a bunny.

"Cats are an aggressive, invasive, nonnative, subsidized predatory species whose presence results in loss of wildlife," Dr. David Jessup, a senior wildlife veterinarian for the state of California contends.

It is estimated that cats kill up to 100 million birds in New Zealand each year. Many of the victims are natives such as tuis and kūkupa.

In New Zealand, it's estimated that feral cats have been responsible for the extinction of six endemic bird species and over 70 localised subspecies, as well as depleting bird and lizard species.
The State of Hawaii Department of Health estimates that there are 500,000 cats on the Island of Maui. Thousands of these are feral, non-domesticated animals left to hunt and capture prey in the wild...
Maui feral eating tropical bird.

According to David Duffy, Ph.D., a botany professor at the University of Hawaii, they pose the biggest risk for other protected species especially on islands*. 
Although cats generally prefer small mammal prey items, they utilize a wide range of food resources including native avifauna. Forest birds that forage in the understory, such as the poouli, are especially vulnerable to cat predation. Predation by feral cats has had serious negative effects on populations of insular avifauna.

Japanese feral eating endangered Amami rabbit.

Studies show free roaming feral domestic cats killed millions of small mammals, song and game birds. Estimates range from a minimum of 47 million up to 139 million songbirds are killed each year.
In Wisconsin alone, says Stanley A. Temple, Ph.D., of the Department of Wildlife Ecology of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, there are probably 1.4 million free-roaming and feral cats in the state, who bag an estimated 7.8 million birds each year.

Temple characterizes these cats as 'subsidized predators' in that they receive food, shelter and other benefits from their relationship with human beings, yet also hunt.

"Their predation on native wildlife can have serious consequences for species already stressed by other sources of human-caused environmental degradation," he adds.

Nice kitty.

A Nebraska report estimates that 60 million feral cats kill 480 million birds every year, and the American Bird Conservancy estimates they kill more than a billion small mammals annually.

... and so it goes- island by island, and state by state around the world.


Not only do feral cats slaughter billions of native birds and mammals every year, 
they frequently come with parasites and diseases such as sarcosporidiosis and toxoplasmosis, which can infect humans!

How cool is that?

Many people, including me, think feral cats are free-range vermin and should be dealt with accordingly. Others seem to think they are cute or something...

If you're one of those people, and you want to help feral cats in their drive to hunt birds and small mammals to extinction, there's a special day just for you!



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