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I love The Oatmeal's take on this: How much do cats actually kill? (warning for gore and language).

Pet cats really ought to stay inside. It's better for their health and better for all the little creatures they're not killing for funsies.
 

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Unless you were someone like me who was allergic to cats...we had one as a kid. We had to keep her outside because I was allergic. But she didn't kill that much because we actually fed her. I think in all the time we had her, she killed one rat (which was at our back door when she did and we were extremely grateful) and a couple moles (that she brought to us as gifts.) The issue we had in our neighborhood was people getting cats, then not spaying/neutering them and then putting them outside. They multiplied like crazy! Not everyone can have a cat inside.
 

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These aren't pet cats that are doing the killing. They are ferals. Come to the US in any neighborhood in existence and I guarantee you will see at least one stray cat. They are everywhere. We do not have the resources or the money to catch all these cats and spay/neuter them. They run off, have babies, and the population sky rockets. Almost all responsible cat owners have them fixed for the simple fact that they don't want them getting frisky/peeing on their stuff or them. It happens. Trust me. My mother wanted her older cat to be indoor/outdoor. He killed mice and only killed a bird once. That was it. Because he knew he had food to come home to. The kills were "prizes" for us. Gifts of his love. Few and far between. I know, because he gave me all them. Maybe five mice total in his 8-9 year span of being in and out. He is officially locked in the house due to fighting and getting hurt and costing lots of vet money for my mom... But that was an "i told you so" situation for a long time.

both my girls are fixed and indoor only. i think this is the only way cats should be kept, but don't blame the people who let them go out. they aren't the ones doing the killing.
 

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I'm allergic to cats too, which i found out after being bitten by the clients cat at work (i used to work with adults with learning disabilities). Weird, considering i worked in vet science and animal management for years and got bitten more times than i can count lol. Anyhoo i digress.

This particular cat got fed way more than was good for it, but one day i came into work, went out to peg up some washing and there was FOUR dead birds in the garden and a trail of feathers which led to the cat sitting in the car port. Yick. Particularly busy night for Charlie.

It's in their nature to hunt >.<
 

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Living in a semi rural comunnity we are grateful for "barn" cats and "ferals" we actual have a catch , fix and release program. I would rather have cats loose than rodents personally
 

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In the city, for sure, cats are apex predators.

I can't think of too many animals in Philadelphia that get eats more frequently than cats -- so they just thrive. We have HUGE feral colonies here, and they are often human friendly. We have a lot of TNR (trap, neuter, release) programs, but it barely stems the tide.

Unfortunately that's what happens when biodiversity is limited in geographical areas and a predator is allowed to become an apex predator with the ability to use humankind as a springboard to total domination of an ecosystem. It's not the cats' fault.
 

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Cats are predators first and foremost. They have been domesticated to the point where for the most part they do not attack humans. However give a cat the opportunity for an easy kill and it will take it. In large part most of what they kill we would consider vermin. However I have known well fed pet cats that would kill a grouse or rabbit a week if it could.

I try to not make value judgements as to which life is more valuable. Life is life, it all wants to continue, to grow, to reproduce.

Speaking for myself, our cats are inside cats, period. I don't see the point in exposing them to outside disease, contaminants, or poisons. And neither of our boys really have the temperament for roaming outside.

A previous cat did like to escape, in fact he'd get up in the window and put his shoulder into the screen until something gave. He was right at 20 lbs and screens just are not built to take that. He came home once after being gone for 2 weeks. He'd been shot. Hit in the left cheek the bullet traversed through his neck and came out on his right side halfway between his front and rear leg.

He pulled through with a bit of help and lots of mothering only to disappear again 3 weeks later. Never saw him again.

So i put grill's in the windows and keep my cats inside. But that is my choice. Yours may be different.

But if your letting your cat out into the world, you really need to ask yourself where it is going, what it is doing when it is out there.
 

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But if your letting your cat out into the world, you really need to ask yourself where it is going, what it is doing when it is out there.
\
True enough. Sylvester (yes she was named that, we had a parakeet named Tweety as well lol) didn't actually leave the yard. She'd hang out in the garage (we'd leave it open a crack for her) and go at as she needed. But there was a chow that would wander the neighborhood and wait for us to come home every day so she didn't do much wandering. We also lived in a rural area so not a lot of people around. She did keep the wild rabbit population down while she was there, after she passed away they picked up again and would come into the yard again, but while she was there they avoided our yard.

Also, in my experience, I've found toms wander more. Sylvester did have one litter before my dad got her fixed and her two daughters were given to friends. We kept the boy because he had blue eyes, but once he was fully grown he disappeared one day and never came back. My friend just recently had her male cat disappear as well, she let him out during the day while she was at work and he just didn't come back in one day.
 

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all of our four girls were once wild. three were true ferals, one an abandonned stray. two were adopted from my aunt's program, and i am very fond of ferals.


think of all the hardships ferals deal with... i think they've earned their place in our cities and towns.


i can attest a few things regarding ferals. if well fed, ferals do not usually kill as MANY other animals. sure, they take a few small animals, but the majority of needless kills are done by domestic housepets. ive seen Gylfie's mother in my aunt's TNR program take birds down--only to teach her kittens, which in my opinion, is a good thing in some ways. if those kittens ever found themselves stranded, alone, not fed--whatever--they will survive.

i'm a very avid birdwatcher, i have been for 9 years. i know the impact of invasive species well, but what's done is done--and it's human error at fault. do not blame the cat for doing what it can to survive.

ferals i think are very beneficial in cities. damaging in rural and wild areas though. but a few years back, our city went on strike and the garbage disposal was part of that. they didnt cut public grass, they didnt pick up garbages. our city became a rat kingdom. rats were seen everywhere. they would have been much worse if we didnt have our ferals. the city was on strike for a few months. our city is also the third worst for feral cats in canada. we have several TNR and feral assistance programs. one awesome one in my city spays/neuters over 400 cats a year. they provide medical, food, and shelter as well. it's not a noticeable difference to people who see the cats around, but to those who work with the programs here, you do see a lot less cats born each year.

my aunt is part of a feral program that does TNR, feeds, medicates, shelters and adopts out cats. two of my girls (Gylfie and Daystar) are from her colony. my aunt cares for more than 20 cats in her colony. that number would be quadrupled without the TNR. it's slow work, but it DOES work :)

for that many cats, she doesnt have too many casualties. there isnt as many prey items in cities either. most city birds are invasive damaging species such as european starling and house sparrows. cats would actually be doing our native birds a better favour by preying on these aggressive species, who displace species for nests. the red headed woodpecker is on decline in my county because of house sparrows and starlings kicking them out of nest sites. so, again, cats can be beneficial in cities.


my main points:

starlings and sparrows are big city dwellers. they're invasive and dangerous to native birds who also nest in cavities.

rats are also a problem in cities. rats can carry disease.

most feral cats live in towns and cities where they are more likely to prey on those damaging species.


so in my opinion, urban feral cats may be more beneficial


:)
 

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I can see the argument for the benefit of urban ferals, for sure!

On the other hand, in Philadelphia for example, we also have a large population of wild raccoons. So we have secondary health hazards in disease carrying cats, including issues of rabies, Lyme, and other illnesses that can cause serious damage to humans.

To be fair, I'm a bio-naturalist and think honestly that trying to stop death and change the way we do as "civilized" human populations is not a good plan (we are likely to "live" ourselves into destruction). But at the same time, cats can end up being a predation-pest -- in countries like Israel, for example, they're seen like squirrels and considered a serious nuisance. And since we oppose destroying them, huge colonies thrive with human aid where they might otherwise thin out. I wonder it this may become an issue.
 

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And since we oppose destroying them, huge colonies thrive with human aid where they might otherwise thin out. I wonder it this may become an issue.
In many places, it's already an issue. I don't have a definitive list, but there are hundreds of species that are now extinct or endangered specifically because of cats. One species is actually extinct supposedly because of the predations of a single cat. Fragile or naturally isolated ecosystems (ie, islands) are at high risk.
 

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sadly, yes its true ferals are deadly on isolated islands.

as far as disease, the TNR programs here also vaccinate ferals here to stop disease from spreading so we have healthy cats. i am a very firm believer in TNR programs and its proven more effective than simply killing off cats.

culling simply opens residency in territory for more cats to come in, and the result is only death. TNR keeps them alive, but in time the numbers decline and prevent it from getting worse. TNR saves lives and effectively slows populations. :)


(my girls are strictly indoors and always will be.)

also to be fair, the article is about the USA, which much of the feral populations are urban ;) so isolated islands arent a big problem compared to hawaii and new zealand where feral cats are a major problem. but face the facts, we arent getting rid of our invasive animals, we as humans must live with our consequences. the invasive species are all here to stay, unfortunately. the damage is done.

but culling is not an answer
 

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we have had cats for as long as I remember mostly rescue ones, As soon as we get one it gets whipped off the vets for it's shots and to be neutered, After a few weeks in doors we let them outside with a collar with a bell, They usually hung around the back / front garden could never keep a cat shut up not fair on the animal as cats like to roam , When my folks moved over to Ireland they took the cats with them had 3 then and they became outdoor cats they have a a nice warm shed to sleep in and all the rodents they want as the folks live near a small farm so the farmer has no problem with the cats hanging around as they help keep the mice etc down, the only time they are kept indoors is when the farmer puts down poison for the rats he will let my mum know and she will bring the cats indoors for a few weeks,
 
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