Op-Ed: Getting Rid of Cats Does Not Preserve WildlifePublished January 31, 2013
According to a survey conducted every five years by the American Veterinary Medical Association, pet ownership has been dwindling over the past five years in the United States. The most recent results of the survey were published in the 2012 U.S. Pet Ownership and Demographics Sourcebook. However, even though the pet population has been declining, today there continue to be approximately 74 million cats who continue to grace the hearts and homes of feline lovers.
Yet feline behavior continues to be highly misunderstood, resulting in some bad press for the species. In a recent study of cats by a jointly run University of Georgia and National Geographic study using webcams, they found that once cats “hit the fresh air ” these sweet and adorable felines turned into “killing machines”, and due to their hunting prowess, cats are responsible for the deaths of 4 million critters each year.
But there’s nothing personal about cat hunting and killing its prey. Cat guardians get such a kick out of playing with our kitties, tossing a toy mouse, or being awed while watching our cats leap into the air with the grace of a ballet dancer as they stretch out to catch the feathers on a wand.
Let’s face it: cats are predatory animals by nature. And even though we have domesticated these diminutive jungle cats, under that cute and cuddly fur coat is a skilled hunter’s instinctual hard-wiring. So while “Fluffy” or “Precious" might be sitting on your lap purring up a storm or gently tapping your nose with her paws, if she was permitted to roam outdoors without supervision, small reptiles, mammals and birds naturally become tantalizing mid-day snacks for our little “darlings."
But although there are untold numbers of cat lovers here in the United States, there are those who think that cats are a ghastly menace to wildlife.
According to a recent article on Mother Nature Network, “There’s no denying that nature can be cruel; beautiful and sublime, yet cruel." The article goes on to detail that in New Zealand, 9 species of native birds have gone extinct due to roaming felines, and they have also made a huge impact on 33 species of endangered birds.
As a result of this, Gareth Morgan, a philanthropic economist and businessman is dreaming of a New Zealand without cats. The opening statement made on Morgan’s website, Cat to go is, "That little ball of fluff you own is a natural born killer. Every year cats in New Zealand destroy our native wildlife. The fact is that cats have to go if we really care about our environment." He claims that without cats, New Zealand citizens will once again be able to hear a wide variety of songbird sounds, and rejoice in the beauty of these feathered beauties.
But Morgan is up against a tremendous number of New Zealand kitty aficionados, who are not at all happy with his desire to rid the country of cats. In fact, 71 percent of people polled on Morgan's website voted against his master plan.
Since cats easily learn to defeat a belled collar, folks who enjoy giving their cats access to the great outdoors can easily protect birds and other wildlife by building a secure kitty enclosure. This ensures that both cats and other species can live harmoniously together without upsetting Mother Nature’s precarious balance.
What do you think? Tell us in a comment.