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Nashua;33.0;http://forecast.weather.gov/images/wtf/small/nskc.png;2014-04-21 05:37:19
Thursday, January 24, 2013

I love cats but it's true: They're an environmental disaster

A few years ago I covered a story in which a local town was considering where to allow trappers - that is, people who trap animals with leg-hold traps. This idea appalled many people, including one woman I know, who described in telling detail the agony that the caught animals go through. She argued that trapping should be outlawed.

But then she mentioned that she has a couple of cats, which she lets roam free. We have cats (neutered and never allowed outside) so I know what they do to small animals and birds: in human parlance, they torture them to death - "play" with them is the usual eumphemism. I pointed out to this woman she was enabling at least as much animal pain and suffering as any trapper, but she didn't agree.

I think this attitude is common among cat owners, which is why I'm sure nothing will come of the suggestion that the island nation of New Zealand ban all domestic cats: Neuter all existing ones and allow no more to be brought in. (Slate story here)

The argument is that domestic cats are killing machines of birds and mammals, especially when introduced into island ecosystems. We enable cats by feeding them and sheltering them, giving them maximum energy to hunt, killing small birds, small mammals, and many reptiles and amphibians.

The Slate story is loaded with links to studies about the carnage they create on wildlife. If you have an outdoor cat, you might as well scatter poison in the woods.

It's a potent argument, although it won't go anywhere. But please, if you own cats, never ever let them outdoors. They'll adjust, honest, and you'll have a better chance of hearing songbirds and living in a balanced world.