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  • Writer's pictureChelle Hartzer

I Don’t Hate Cats 2 (AKA: Here we go again)

I can’t believe this is still coming up. Well, no…I can believe it. I looked back through my old posts and I posted about this in 2022 and 2021. It’s like a bad song on repeat with just a few small changes every time. This came across my feed the other day: someone “stole” a feral cat.

 


This cat was “illegally trapped” by someone and the residents of the cat’s area(?) want it back. How they figured this out is unknown. I have no idea if it is legal or not to trap cats in Washington DC or if you need a specific license. I should mention as well that cities or municipalities do not sponsor these “working cat” programs, they are done through activist groups like the Humane Rescue Alliance. Well intentioned but misguided.


What continues to amaze me is that people think this works. I’m certainly motivated by food (and wine) and I’m willing to work for that. If you put a plate of chocolate chip cookies (and a nice red blend) right in front of me, what motivation do I have to go out and work for my food? And that’s the case with these cats. In order to “adopt” one of these, you have to provide it with food, water, and shelter. Why go hunt mice when there’s a plate of perfectly good cat food right in front of you?

 

Residents were quoted as saying:

“The surrounding community works together to take care of the outdoor cat”

And

“She gets to live her best life outside while getting unlimited food and water.”

 

That sounds like my best life too: not having to work and having everything delivered to my door.


In addition, numerous studies have shown that cats are incredibly bad for native wildlife. I’ve covered those in previous editions so let’s look at other ways cats are not great outside.

 

We know that rodents (just like all living things) need food and our commensal rodents live off the food that people do. So when there is excess food in the trash, thrown on the street, or otherwise discarded, rodents can easily find that and thrive. One study looked at urban cats and found that “food provided by feeders [people] alone was sufficient to support 1.35 times the free-roaming cat populations.” That means that extra food went to…. you guessed it, commensal rodents.


Another study said that “although birds and small mammals were plentiful in study areas, only once in more than 180 hours of observation was predation observed.” Other studies concluded that since food was readily available in urban areas, hunting played a very small role in their diet. In fact, urban cats were shown to be feeding mostly on garbage.

 

It’s not just predation and wildlife concerns. It’s also disease. Just a few months ago (February 2024) a man in Oregon was diagnosed with the plague. Yep, the Black Death plague. They think he acquired it from his cat. CDC reports about 250 cases per year of rabies in cats. Cat scratch fever isn’t just a cool song, it’s a bacterial infection that can lead to swollen and painful lymph nodes. There are also food-borne pathogens and on study showed they can carry the causative agent of Lyme disease. (Though it wasn’t thought the cats could pass it to people).

If you think I’m picking research studies that only support my cause:

A study from Finland saw cats having about 72% of their diet being rodents. Great, right? Except those were all native rodents, not commensal species.  

 

Researchers from Spain looked at a wide range of research and concluded that the impacts of cats “cannot be generalized” yet quoted several studies that showed their detriment to the environment.

 

Once again, cats are indoor pets. If you are feeding it, it’s not working. I have a cat (Max) and my cat is awesome (though a bit stupid sometimes) and she stays inside. Instead of releasing harmful animals to supposedly control other harmful animals, how about you call us to develop the best rodent control program for your area? We can help. And since we need to work to support our food and wine habits, we will do a great job for you so you keep us around. (Max needs food too.)



Lagniappe - it's science! Cats and libraries pair well.

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