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Controlling The Population Of House Cats

1890 words - 8 pages

Common house cats are domesticated animals, and that means they are meant to depend on and coexist with humans, not live in the wild. In most environments, cats are not native species and are therefore invasive, and like most invasive species are a threat to their environment. Not only are they a threat to their environment, but “of primary concern is the welfare of the cats themselves, particularly of kittens, which suffer >50% mortality prior to maturity” (Levy 64). Despite this, feral cat populations continue to rise and in order to stop this trend, humans need to intervene and put in a good effort to help protect both cats and the environment. Most current efforts of population reduction are rather inhumane and don’t seem to be making much progress, but future attempts at immunocontraception, trap-neuter-return, and no-kill shelters offer humane alternatives and could potentially be very effective.
Being very adaptive, “cats can live in almost any environment where humans are present. Individuals move between domestic situations and a feral existence, often with intermediate commensal relationships with humans,” and this shows that humans are responsible for introducing cats into the wild, and therefore it is humans’ responsibility to take them back out (Duffy 182-184). However, before discussion occurs about dealing with the feral cat problem, it is necessary to first establish why exactly this problem is of any importance. People don’t typically associate cats with environmental threats or dangers, and this ignorance is part of the reason feral cats are growing to become such a problem in the first place. What people need to know is that cats have “become a formidable predator of small animals, with especially devastating effects on small islands lacking an indigenous terrestrial predator. [Feral] cats are also responsible for spreading diseases to wildlife and humans” and don’t belong roaming around in the wild (Duffy 173). Misguided cat lovers may see feral cats as objects of fascination, and if they feel the urge to “help” the animals, they may feed them some cat food, lunch meat, or even leftover table scraps out of sympathy for the felines’ situation. Even environmentalists try feeding these wild cats in an attempt to keep them from feeding on the natural wildlife, but this is actually a very ineffective practice and ultimately a waste of time and energy, because “cats hunt even when well fed and continue to kill even when already actively feeding on other prey” (Duffy 174). “King (1984) considered cats to have been at least partially responsible for the extinction of six New Zealand endemic species,” so there is no denying that these cats are clearly damaging their environments (Duffy 177). Of course, completely eliminating the feral cat population is a near-impossible task, but this situation needs to get under control as soon as possible.
Unfortunately, “the most common control method for unwanted cats in the United...

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