You left out cats as a remedy for vermin infestation–for my money, the most effective and efficient form of rodenticide available; environmentally friendly, too (well, except for the cat litter).
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How about terriers? Aren’t those good for chasing rats?
Ye gods, are you mad?!! Domestic cats commit amazing carnage on birds and small mammals. Other sites I looked at said that research indicated that each domestic cat, on average, kills 26 songbirds a year in urban areas, and 83 in rural areas. (I don’t include links, as the sites were advocacy web pages rather than the research itself, so I take it with a grain of salt.) Given that there are about 66 million pet cats (not to mention feral cats), the slaughter (and resulting environmental damage) is extraordinary.
The biggest problem is that because domestic cats are fed by their owners, the cat population is not regulated by the availability to prey.
I really don’t think that the average DOMESTIC cat kills 26 songbirds. I have had cats my entire life (8 cats in all, I think) and ONE of my cats ONCE killed ONE bird, which was a sparrow (not an endangered species where I live!) and was too little to fly and didn’t get away during the playing-with-you stage of the proceedings. Surely my experience is not so atypical? The two cats I now have have caught birds on several occasions and brought them in through the cat door to play with, but all have survived the experiment (altho they certainly didn’t enjoy it!). Twenty six a year??? I don’t think so. Maybe feral cats do, and that is a whole other problem. But keeping a cat to keep rodents under control is not exactly creating wholesale destruction of songbirds!
Actually, SuaSponte is correct. There was an interesting British study on the effect cat predation had on the local neighborhood wildlife (I read it in a book, which I no longer have access to, but you might be able to find some of it on the Net these days).
The effect was almost unbelievably large. How they knew what the cats ate was by examining the cats’ feces–a pretty surefire method if there ever was one. Most of the owners had no idea their cats were such rapacious murderers since they’d only very rarely be “treated” to the spoils.
In defense of my cats, though, I live in NYC–my cats never ever ever even set one paw outside. Where’d they’d probably quickly be squashed by a fast-moving, bright yellow vehicle known as a cab–or simply stolen.
If a songbird every made its way into my house and my cat found a way to get rid of it, I’d give him a treat.
Maybe we should get rid of the songbirds to save our poor worm population?
Cats have been living with us in our cities for many generations but a study is done and we believe that they are about to obliterate the bird population? Cats are about the only natural predator birds have in an urban setting, aside from cars. Meanwhile they get fed all winter long by humans.
I think some people like this study because it makes them feel less guilty about all the birds they’ve seen smash into their picture windows.
In support of what CarnalK is saying, imagine the environmental damage if cats didn’t kill that many birds. Something has to kill those birdies, and if it’s not cats, it’s going to be disease. Anyone want to take a guess what effect all those diseased bird carcasses would have on the environment?
pinkflowerdog, cats are definitely cuddlier than traps.
Arnold, I seem to recall that terriers were bred to chase rodents.
SuaSponte, it may be true that cats decimate the wild birds and small mammals. Others have pointed out this is not necessarily a bad thing. However, if this is something that bothers you, you can always keep your cat as indoors only. In fact, that is pretty much the policy advocated by many urban areas (via leash laws) and also cat advocacy groups like the shelters that pick up strays and find them homes.
kayT, how do you know only one of your cats ever killed a bird, and it was only one bird? Were you watching the cats 24/7, or were they all kept indoors 24/7? Or are you just going by what you observed and the lack of presents. I can testify that any cats I have owned were successful predators. And that “playing with you” stage typically ends fatally for the plaything without intervention.
WARNING: Graphic details
I compared traits of some of my cats. One would usually leave a mess of feathers behind, whereas the others seemed to fully devour the birds and not leave a mess. I had one Siamese that was particularly adept. A couple of times I found half a squirrel - the second half. Like it was cleanly severed. Nothing down to the ribs ro belly or so, then full carcass from there down. Kinda eerie. That cat also singlehandedly put a significant dent in the local bat population. There was one summer I recall where almost every morning we’d find up to 3 dead bats on the steps and sidewalk. And we know where they were coming from, because she once managed to bring one into the house when a not so attentive brother opened the door for her without looking.
Wow. Ya know, I’ve never really given much thought to this issue - I just posted here because the OP just stated something that was incorrect (that cats are “environmentally friendly” rodent killers).
But the responses are just disturbing. “Oh, if my cats are killing things, it’s OK, they’re keeping down the evil songbird population.” WTF?!!
The cat population, unlike wild predators, are not dependent on the prey population to sustain it. Humans feed them, so even if the prey population declines, the numbers of cats doesn’t correspondingly decline. So the same number (or more) cats then prey on a smaller and smaller number of land mammals and birds. Kindly explain to me how, under any circumstances, this is an environmentally balanced or positive development.
Chronos read the freaking link. The cats aren’t just attacking pigeons. Cats in rural areas kill three times as many songbirds a year than urban cats. Guess where you are more likely to find threatened or endangered species of birds?
CarnalK no one is asserting that cats are about to obliterate the bird population. People are asserting, however, that cat’s have caused and/or greatly contributed to the extinction of several bird species.
Cat’s don’t look at prey and say “hmm, that one’s a yellow-throated warbler. Very rare; I’ll leave that one alone. Ahh, there’s a pigeon. Lunch!!”
Sua, I don’t think you are really making a distinction between outdoor and indoor cats here.
Outdoor cats, will, indeed, kill many small animals and birds. This may or may not be a bad thing, depending on whether there are endangered species in the area.
Indoor cats will only kill those small animals that come indoors, presumably always a good thing. The cat will also, just by its presence, deter said small animal’s friends and relations from coming in after it, and will do so far more effectively and safely than any man-made concoction.
I live on a farm in Australia. Between my parents in law an my farm we have around 25 cats. Not counting kittens (which the farm dogs tend to disperse rapidly) You can catch about 1/4. But they all come in for milk and biscuits in the evening. About 5-7 years ago a very large mouse and rat plauge hit the area. We never saw one cat for weeks. They were to busy chomping away on the mice. As a result we did not loose much grain or feed as did our neighbours. Some lost 10’s of thousands of dollars worth of feed and grain. We hardly lost any, hense we keep our cats handy. There cheaper and way more effective against rodents than baits.
As for the bird problem, well we do not have a galah problem, nor a pidgeon problem, pinching our feed either.
My final thought… Cats are good when in an environment that needs them. Bad when in a situation that there hunting instincts are curbed or they take to killing things some would rather live.
As for Feral, feral cats… we shot them. If they dont come in for milk. They dont live. And for cats in urban areas?? Should stay indoors.
The poster who noted that animal advocacy groups sharply decry keeping “outdoor” cats is correct. In fact, our local Humane Society and SPCA offices have big posters up on the walls detailing the sad facts about outdoor cats: Vastly increased rates of sickness and death from disease, vehicular traffic, small animal bites (rats have huge incisors) and vandalism (torture). They WILL NOT LET YOU adopt a cat if you indicate you may keep it as an outdoor pet. (Warning: Graphic detail) On one poster, the message is chillingly poignant: On the left side is a photo of a happy cat, lying on the floor inside. It is captioned “Indoor Cat”. On the right is an actual photo from a newspaper of a dead cat which the neighborhood rascals had decided to use for archery practice, lying on the ground outside. It is captioned, “Outdoor Cat”.
Outdoor cats are also the ones that contribute to the cat population explosion, which is responsible for the extermination (euthanasia) of tens of thousands of healthy cats annually.
The Humane Society says spay, neuter and keep cats indoors.
The birds might be paying them to say that, I don’t know.
Lucretia, I’m not taking an anti-cat position. Hell, I’ve owned or lived with about seven cats in my life, and I like the little critters.
I didn’t think you were, m’dear. But the way I read the OP was him advocating indoor use of cats for pest deterrence/control, and I think you may have got off on a tangent about the destructive potential (very real, mind you) of outdoor cats.