Managing feral cats in Minneapolis: Facts and values

  • Article by: Hannah Specht
  • Updated: September 18, 2013 - 7:51 PM

Researchers have no agenda but to clarify ecological relationships.

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mrprogressiveSep. 17, 13 7:11 PM

If TNF does not work. Then why do we still have a cat problem when the Animal Humane Society of Golden Valley that despite reluctantly giving up their gas chamber has a well oiled killing machine complete with a cremator and mass graves. Why does the author expect a different result for status quo. Mass killing is status quo. Maybe TNR does not work, but killing doesnt either. We need to find a different solution then what is already done (mass killing).

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Leep337Sep. 17, 13 8:40 PM

I hope my city of residence doesn't entertain this idea. My neighbors let their cat outside in their fenced in yard, and the cat will occasionally jump over the fence into my yard and come and sit on my deck, and sometimes use the shrubbery next to the door as a litter box. We have also had a stray wander into our yard and hang out for a few days. Needless to say, this drives my cats bonkers, not to mention, causes my cats to think they need to mark their territory inside my house. This requires extensive cleaning and behavior modification--the cats and ours (tin foil and sprays to keep the cats away from these areas, moving a litter box to the area to pursuade the cat to go in the litter box and then move it to the correct locations, etc.). If we had feral cat colonies in Shakopee, I can only imagine how my cats would react, and how it would affect my quality of life. I have a feeling I would be researching permanent solutions for keeping the colony away from my property.

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jarlmnSep. 17, 13 8:58 PM

The reason we have so many feral cats is that some cat owners have this myth that their 'little fluffy-snookims' should be allowed to freely roam the neighborhood, otherwise it is not "natural" or some kinda sappy-crappy. How humane is it to allow your cat to be run over by a bus or be mauled by a feral cat or other animal? Humbug! Put a bounty on feral cats! This will encourage scoff-law cat owners to keep their supposedly beloved little fluffy inside or on a leash. (and yes, cats are smart and can tolerate a leash)

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hobie2Sep. 17, 13 9:09 PM

It may be a problem in the city, but in the burbs, I sit here and watch the local licensed cats outside unattended (illegal here) stalk the birds, and watch the foxes stalk the cats as they stalk the birds and take home a cat for lunch... Every few weeks, the hawks (not falcons, big hawks) take a cat and eat it in my or the neighbor's backyard (leaving the collars). Not sure who is dumber - the cats or the cat owners who set them out to feed the hawks... As there are more hawks around lately, I assume there must be more cats around.

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polylubezSep. 18, 1312:04 AM

In the country we let them alone until they get too thick and then clean them out periodically.

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walterlambSep. 18, 1312:37 AM

Ms. Specht's claim that there is no agenda driving the science criticizing non-lethal control methods is simply not accurate. During the peer-review process of a recently published paper, one of my reviewers argued for the paper's outright rejection, not on scientific grounds, but rather because it could undermine the case against non-lethal control. The purpose of my paper was to rebut an earlier economic estimate that showed a complete disregard for basic principles of math and science. It didn't even multiply two numbers together correctly. Since my paper was published in May, not a single conservation organization has taken note of it, and several (such as the American Bird Conservancy) continue to reference the discredited study. No one cares whether there is any science behind that study, they just like the provocative headline. The problem with the Smithsonian study published in Nature Communications is that the authors can't communicate any feasible scenario in which their results fit into the larger context of North American bird populations and mortality rates. I would challenge Ms. Specht to give it a try. How many birds exist in a given year in the lower 48 states, how many of those die each year, and what percentage of those are killed by cats. Just answer those three questions in a way that leaves room for 3.7 billion birds to die at the hands of cats each year in the lower 48. Now, when people respond that such scrutiny of the study misses the point, they are making a symbolic argument, not a scientific one. Using bad science to create a really large number to get people's attention is a PR strategy, not a valid scientific process. Of course, this can be just as true with many cat advocates also. If bad science from both "sides" cancelled itself out, then there wouldn't be a problem. However, that isn't how it works. Bad science plus more bad science equals twice as much bad science. For what it is worth, I am an active bird watcher with only a single experience with feral cat control. We used non-lethal means and they were very effective for us, with a single cat remaining out of almost twenty captured and neutered. It all comes down to which methods can achieve sufficient trap rates to offset the reproductive capabilities of the untrapped cats. If Ms. Specht and other researchers are truly interested in reducing the number of feral cats in the environment, then they must let go of the ideological approach to the issue, and recommit themselves to objectively analyzing all of the available data to determine the best control methods for each individual setting, taking into account the highly variable success factors for each setting. Walter Lamb

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tulibeeSep. 18, 13 1:43 AM

what a waste of money. Just shoot 'em.

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supervon2Sep. 18, 13 6:16 AM

I saw an article in Spiegel (German Magazine) about Bulgaria with its free-roaming dogs. They take care of the problem. Period.

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Tammi666Sep. 18, 1310:07 AM

Good piece. And yes, Leep337, irresponsible cat owners are to blame when they let out their un-neutered pets to roam the neighborhoods and breed with other cats (feral or the cat next door).

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beautyehSep. 18, 1310:45 AM

@walter lamb - peer-reviewed science is good science. Funny, maybe your "paper" is not mentioned or widely referenced is because it has no merit. The best control method is eradication - period. For people who don't know who Walter is - do a search on his name and see all the cat colony groups who mention him because he is "birdwatcher/lister" which supposedly adds some weight to his comments. As opposed to real scientist/conservation biologist/ornithologists.

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