The cat problem

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Judging from this scene, it’s probably not a good idea for us to introduce another cat to our household.

And no, it’s not that there are two many pictures of them on Facebook. (There are, but that’s a discussion for another time.)  My husband and I have owned cats for over twenty years (2 different ones); they’ve always been kept inside, although the first one was briefly allowed to sit on the roof of the third floor apartment we had at the time.

It wasn’t until we bought out house that I noticed the rather large number of cats who were either free agents or had owners who let them loose in the neighborhood. We often find them skulking around our pond, begging near the front door or sometimes even trying to get matey with our cat (as shown above). The actual animals themselves don’t bother me that much—I feel sorry for the ones who seem hungry or neglected—but it has to be said; cats and gardening don’t mix. At all. While urban dogs are walked, supervised, and (mostly) picked up after, urban cats treat the world as their litter box. In my small garden, it can be very annoying, and recently, I’ve been trying different things to keep them out. First, there was a sonic device that didn’t seem to do much. I also have a movement-activated sprayer I may hook up this spring. Finally, I’ve thought of just trapping them and turning them in. (Thought of it, haven’t done it.)

The problem in Buffalo is serious enough that the city is actually convening a cat task force.  Animal advocates are suggesting that rounding up unowned cats and getting them spayed/neutered, then releasing them would be part of a solution. Personally, I think people should keep their pet cats indoors. And I became even more convinced of this after reading—as many of you must have—the recent reporting on how many birds cats kill per year. Depending on which study you read—here’s another one—it can be up to 4 billion a year, killed by a combination of feral and domesticated animals. That’s a lot of birds and there are even more small mammals. It’s enough to cause extinctions, according to a number of studies. This is not the natural way of things; basically, an invasive species has been translocated by humans worldwide with predictable results.

There’s nothing new about the data, but other than the trapping and neutering idea, no one has come up with a solution. Nobody wants to see species disappear; nobody wants to kill cats. I doubt the situation will be addressed in any serious way—but I hadn’t realized how big of a problem it was.


Oh yes—and as with everything, there is a funny way of looking at it!

Posted by

Elizabeth Licata
on February 4, 2013 at 8:39 am, in the category Gardening on the Planet, Ministry of Controversy, Science Says.

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  • I’d add the dog problem. Tired of dog owners who think that my yard is their (leashed) dog’s bathroom. The pee kills the grass and, no, they don’t always clean up the poo. I love animals, but not all animal owners.

    Catherine 1st January 1970 4:00 am
  • Seriously–at least cats partially bury their waste! I have stepped in mounds of dog doo a few times too many in my front yard, but I agree, cats should be kept indoors. If not for the birds, for the cats themselves. I cannot imagine having to deal with the disease and injuries an outdoor cat faces.

    admin 4th December 2010 3:15 pm

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