Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Are Cats Really An Invasive Species?

There has been a lot of hoopla in recent years about domestic cat predation, especially of birds. One report in particular published in 2013 in the journal Nature Communications titled "The impact of free-ranging domestic cats on wildlife of the United States" was controversial. This report claimed that between 1.3 and 4 billion birds as well as 6.3 to 22.3 billion mammals are killed by domestic cat predation annually in the US.

There was a media frenzy immediately following the release of that report. Main stream media, bloggers and social media alike had a dooms day reaction and the headlines were sensational. My personal favourite headline was from a post on "Domestic Cats Are Destroying The Planet". Really? I thought it was global warming that was doing that. The author wrote cats are "destroying the environment more efficiently than humans." That of course, is false. It is humans who are destroying the environment, and that includes being responsible for the invasive species we have introduced.

Domestic cats have been declared an invasive species globally, even finding their little furry selves on the "100 of the Worst" list. So, what makes domestic cats an invasive species? What is the actual scope of the problem? What does it mean for them?

My concern is that there is a band wagon mentality taking shape that is promoting drastic measures across the board when that isn't the appropriate direction to be moving in.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Stop Cat Profiling: Domestic Cats Are Not "Killers"

It seems to have become lost somewhere along the way that domestic cats are doing exactly what humans asked them to do - for as long as 10,000 to 12,000 years according to some scientists. Killing mice, rats, and snakes was the very thing that led to their domestication. Because of this mutually beneficial relationship, it became desirable to keep cats and so they became pets as well as working animals.
"the whole chain of events, from agriculture to rodents to cats to pets, is so unprompted, so self-starting, that it makes sense that it would have happened in many places at many points in time, anywhere there was both agriculture and wildcats. It probably happened this way, everywhere." How Humans Created Cats

And what a sweet deal! Unlike most domesticated animals, there was no overhead costs associated with keeping cats. They didn't need to be fed and humans didn't have to spend any time training them or tending to them. There was also the added bonus of having a cute, cuddly, playful companion.

Imagine how thrilling that first litter of kittens must have been, especially when they didn't have to be fed or cared for either. Mamma cat took care of her kittens and when they were weaned, she taught them the skills of her trade and when they were ready - within a few weeks - the youngsters went to work as well. Purrrfect!

Egyptian statuette Cat with kittens circa 664-30 BC

So how did domestic cats go from prized possession to being considered "killers", "blood thirsty killers", "serial killers", and the like?

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Stop Cat Profiling: Domestic Cats Are Not Evil

When I am doing research for stories I write for my blog I regularly find some troubling things that are commonly used in articles about domestic cats, even when they are written by professional wild life or science writers, and published in high profile media.

I struggle to understand why science and wild life writers who otherwise adhere to professional standards, sensationalize their stories about domestic cats by using inflammatory language along with inexact portrayals of domestic cat behavior.

Vilification of domestic cats is becoming an online pastime with an alarming number of people jumping on the bandwagon. When this sort of material is published by an authority it is especially concerning because they are in a position to influence public opinion.

Let's start with the use of the word "evil" ...