I am really concerned about an animal in the great outdoors, and it is not a native species, it is a domestic animal. Now I love all animals, even this one, but humans have created a drastic problem with this creature and I can’t figure out where our heads are.
Cats make excellent pets, just like dogs, only “Mr. Purr” is much more independent. One problem with the cat is that it is a hell hunter, often killing it apparently just for fun. This is okay when the cat is kept indoors, but what happens when it is outdoors and allowed to roam free? Lots of things our eyes don’t often see.
Cats are great mouse and rat hunters, but they also kill many birds, rabbits, squirrels, chipmunks, and flying squirrels. In fact, the number of birds is in the millions every year and there are more victims who go unnoticed, such as when adult birds abandon their nests because a cat is harassing them, or a bird not caught but injured. later dies.
Other problems associated with free-roaming cats are diseases, fleas, ticks and neighborhood disturbances.
So why shouldn’t cats be allowed and owners held accountable for their damage or problems, just like dogs and their owners? I don’t have an answer except that we are pretty dumb and created our own problems by not having done so. If a dog is not under the control of its owner and bites someone, causes damage in the neighborhood, kills the neighbor’s pet, or is just annoying (knocking over trash cans or doing business in someone else’s lawn), the owner is to be held accountable.
The abandonment of cats is a huge problem. Irresponsible people are fed up with their cat, so they wrap it up and throw it in another neighborhood or, worse yet, “kick it back into the wild”. Over the past few years, I have seen this happen so many times in our local wildlife management areas and in the Iroquois National Wildlife Refuge. This summer alone, I have already seen six different cats abandoned along Sour Springs Road in the shelter. These cats try to make a living from wildlife.
If a dog is thrown away, roams carefree, or destroys wildlife, we are tackling the problem, so why not with cats? Lack of action is not only bad for wildlife, it is bad for cats. They don’t adapt at all to life in the wild among foxes, coyotes, diseases and a host of other things, so often they suffer a lot until they perish.
What has become a popular “fix” in recent years is the practice of TNR (Trap, Neutral and Release) in which feral cats – those who roam free and have no human connection; the cats in the community, if you will, are trapped, neutered and then released back to the area they came from. In theory, cats cannot reproduce and when released they become good citizens: no more killing of birds, no more fleas, rabies, ticks or disease prey. They sit all day and do food stuff … that’s right!
These colonies of “treated” cats turn out to be excellent places to abandon cats, so that the colony eventually thrives; not all “residents” are sterilized, after all.
If this is such a good program for feral cats, why don’t wildlife managers use it to control overpopulations of deer and other wildlife? Oh, that’s right, besides being expensive and difficult, it doesn’t work very well.
Cats need to be regulated like other pets and I don’t understand why we don’t. I have a Jack Russell dog and if I let her run free there would be no more wildlife around my property (Jack Russells are another killing machine that often kills just for sport). Some of my good friends have cats and they put the animal on a leash or in a fenced area when they are outside – or they don’t let their cats out. They are responsible pet owners.
People who let their cats run free apparently don’t care much about cats or other family members, as cats could easily bring home rabies, fleas, ticks, or disease. People tell me how cute it is that their cats on the loose bring in dead mice and other little creatures to show how good hunters they are. Yes, they’ll bring this stuff right to your back door for you, and that’s okay – as long as those mice and other critters have been vaccinated and treated for fleas and ticks.
We really need to take this wildcat problem seriously. The solution is with people, not cats.
Doug Domedion, outdoor enthusiast and nature photographer, lives in Medina. Contact him at (585) 798-4022 or [email protected]