Domestic cats: Friend or Foe?

Discussions on the interactions between components of the environment and their effects on all types of organisms.

Domestic cats: Friend or Foe?

Postby zetreque on July 27th, 2015, 4:49 pm 

This has been a concern of mine for many years and the following article just happened my way (link to the first journal article cited is broken however). I think it's an important issue.

When the Cat Comes Back, With Prey
By JAN HOFFMANJULY 24, 2015
http://www.nytimes.com/2015/07/28/science/when-the-cat-comes-back-with-prey.html

I had a cat as a child and I swear it wiped out the entire chipmunk population within a square mile. I found piles of them and beautiful bird feathers underneath our house. Bluejays/Stellar Jays however were one of the few animals my cat had little success at getting. I lived way out in the forest and amazingly my cat also survived coyotes and even Mt. Lion for the duration of it's life (It would get treed a couple times taking a few days to appear again or having to be rescued 50 feet up a tree). It wasn't until we moved into town that my cat died from what we assumed was a human violence encounter. :(

I loved my cat and my dog, but as I grew up I started to see them as invasive species. I noticed a definite difference when hiking with and without dogs or living with and without cats.

Good luck even attempting this conversation with pet owners though...
Pointing to “a dissociation between actual and perceived predatory behavior,” the researchers concluded that “the cat owners in this study reject the proposition that cats are a threat to wildlife.”


The study’s cat owners were generally able to predict whether their pets would bring home prey, but they fared poorly at estimating how much.

I would also say that MOST pet owners do not crawl under their decks and houses where the remains are left and this study probably missed some(though I haven't seen the report yet of how it was conducted). I worked many years crawling underneath houses in construction and found piles of remains. Come to think of it, I even have a feather collection from my own house sitting in an organizer tray behind me.

Over four months, the cats delivered a total of 325 animals: Nearly 60 percent were rodents, and 27 percent were birds. (According to researchers, 6.2 percent were unidentifiable.)


I am writing this as I read the article. I guess they did use a "kitty cam"

John Bradshaw, a professor of anthrozoology at the University of Bristol in England, pointed out that the owners in this latest study counted only the prey their cats had brought home, and did not know how many creatures the cats might have left elsewhere — scenarios vividly illustrated in a 2013 University of Georgia study by researchers who attached “kitty cams” to 55 pet cats. Those cats left behind nearly half the prey they had killed.


With nearly 500 volunteers, researchers placed cameras in 32 parks and one urban area in six states, recording cat and coyote traffic. They found that many coyotes, but very few cats, stalked those protected public lands.

That's find an dandy, but do we really want to eliminate biodiversity around our homes as well as parks? I don't.

But cats and coyotes did overlap in what researchers described as “small urban forests” — smatterings of woodland along greenways in suburban and exurban neighborhoods where coyotes are encroaching.
Studies have shown that such encounters may not end well. “Letting the cat out is not only a risk to the birds but to the cat,” Dr. Kays said.

Depends on the cat, like I said my cat survived about 8 years living in wilderness. My dad's ex girlfriend also had 3 cats living with her off-grid that survived a long time in mountain lion country where ultimately the cat that seemed to have the most intelligence was finally killed by a mountain lion. There are cats bred/trained to be anything from 100% indoor cats to wild feral cats. The thinking flaw in this study is assuming they are all the same. I know cats that you can basically put their body in any position you want and they will stay there letting you do anything you want to it, while there are cats like mine that didn't take no guff from no one and you were lucky to pet it.

By the way, in the title I mean Foe as in killing biodiversity which ultimately harms the planet that sustains us. I know that's a big picture thought that most people don't really understand but there it is. Weighing the pros and cons of everyone having the freedom to own an unlimited number of pet cats. Could get into tragedy of the commons here.
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Re: Domestic cats: Friend or Foe?

Postby Braininvat on July 27th, 2015, 6:57 pm 

Cats separated from mothers at 8 weeks or so (the high cuteness stage) can't hunt anything but a very arthritic beetle, in my experience. Feral cats or semi-feral "barn cats" are the likely culprits for big body counts. When mom teaches hunting, over several months, you get the wildlife killers. Some slack off when they're fed all the time, some don't. Yeah, a lot depends on the individual cat. Too bad we can't teach them a "mice and rats" only policy.
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Re: Domestic cats: Friend or Foe?

Postby Watson on July 27th, 2015, 7:17 pm 

There was a cat here that seemed wild, but had a tattooed id. It would avoid us humans even if we had food for it. I tried to tame it to a point it trusted me and eventually it did. During the winter it came inside to be warm and be fed. Even though I could pick it up, it wasn't without hissing, scratching and biting drawing blood.
It was the neighbor that was initially concerned, and in the spring she re-adopted it for the summer, calling it our cat. The fact is I don't want it, and wish she would stop feeding it over the summer so it would go away. But come fall, I'm expected welcome it into my home, which I have done so far, only because it is cold and its not the cats fault it has been condition in this way.

Oh ya, the op, even though it has just eaten its fill of canned cat food, it still kills ?? for no reason, and it plays with ??, if there is any last movement. I can't have a feeder to encourage the birds to approach because this cats is hiding in the hedge. The only good thing may be I don't have mice.

Although, I did have a couple of ferrets stop in one evening last spring. Sleek white with a black tail tip. The cat must have been turfed by then.
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Re: Domestic cats: Friend or Foe?

Postby zetreque on July 27th, 2015, 9:11 pm 

Cats have as diverse of personalities as humans. My cat I got at only a couple to few weeks old. All I remember is going to visit our friends place 1 hour from here where it just gave birth and a couple weeks later they brought the one I picked out over. It lived a pretty solitary life up on the mountain (just like me and my childhood lol). The only other cat or cats it ever met was a few years later there was one I noticed in a house about 3-4 acres down from us. It also had our old dog to hang with but they didn't spend all that much time together and out dog died a couple years later in a blizzard back when we used to get 22 feet of snow. He knew he was old and just decided this was the day and wondered off one night and laid down in a snow bank up the street.

Our cat also actually went on walks with us sometimes just like a dog would. Up to maybe half a mile up this dirt road.
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Re: Domestic cats: Friend or Foe?

Postby Watson on July 27th, 2015, 9:25 pm 

Yes, I grew up with a cat and have had them around in some form ever since. This one is just more unpleasant to me than any other. This is why I had no trouble be befriending it in the first place. But it is such an unpleasant experience having it around, I regret feeding it in the first place. I know of many other cats I would gladly have as indoor pets.
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Re: Domestic cats: Foe

Postby zetreque on July 29th, 2015, 3:06 pm 

Forget negative human enviromental impacts on the planet. Look at domestic cats. lol

http://abcbirds.org/article/outdoor-cat ... new-study/

(Washington, D.C., January 29, 2013) A new peer-reviewed study published today and authored by scientists from two of the world's leading science and wildlife organizations – the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) – has found that bird and mammal mortality caused by outdoor cats is much higher than has been widely reported, with annual bird mortality now estimated to be 1.4 to 3.7 billion and mammal mortality likely 6.9 – 20.7 billion individuals.


“To maintain the integrity of our ecosystems, we have to conserve the animals that play integral roles in those ecosystems. Every time we lose another bird species or suppress their population numbers, we're altering the very ecosystems that we depend on as humans. This issue clearly needs immediate conservation attention,” he said further.


“The very high credibility of this study should finally put to rest the misguided notions that outdoor cats represent some harmless, new component to the natural environment. The carnage that outdoor cats inflict is staggering and can no longer be ignored or dismissed. This is a wake-up call for cat owners and communities to get serious about this problem before even more ecological damage occurs,” Fenwick said.
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Re: Domestic cats: Friend or Foe?

Postby Paralith on July 29th, 2015, 3:36 pm 

Well, here's one thing that can help: cat scrunchies.

Image

They are produced by a company called BirdsBeSafe, and actual studies have been done that show these brightly colored collars make cats much more visible to birds, and greatly reduce their bird kills.

It does not, unfortunately, at all effect their small mammal and reptile murder rates - unsurprisingly, though, since most of those animals are color blind. Perhaps BirdsBeSafe needs to add a noise maker to the collars that would alert the color blind animals to their presence.
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Re: Domestic cats: Friend or Foe?

Postby CanadysPeak on July 29th, 2015, 9:33 pm 

All my cats, after the first one (where I learned), have been indoor cats. I'm sure they killed mice and chipmunks in the house. One even killed a 2 foot rat snake that had gotten into the cellar. Just remember: People keep dogs; cats keep people.
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Re: Domestic cats: Friend or Foe?

Postby tantric on September 17th, 2015, 7:24 am 

oh my, such innocence - you have but touched on the deep seated evil residing in the soul of F. catus...consider this: it is entirely possible that cats harbour a protozoan parasite that infects human brains....and turns regular people in Crazy Cat Ladies. The Cat Lady Conundrum
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Re: Domestic cats: Friend or Foe?

Postby Darby on September 17th, 2015, 7:38 am 

Paralith » July 29th, 2015, 3:36 pm wrote:Well, here's one thing that can help: cat scrunchies.

Image

They are produced by a company called BirdsBeSafe, and actual studies have been done that show these brightly colored collars make cats much more visible to birds, and greatly reduce their bird kills.

It does not, unfortunately, at all effect their small mammal and reptile murder rates - unsurprisingly, though, since most of those animals are color blind. Perhaps BirdsBeSafe needs to add a noise maker to the collars that would alert the color blind animals to their presence.


It's like hunting with a handicap. Not as annoying as a bell either.
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Re: Domestic cats: Friend or Foe?

Postby vivian maxine on September 17th, 2015, 8:38 am 

Watson » July 27th, 2015, 8:25 pm wrote:Yes, I grew up with a cat and have had them around in some form ever since. This one is just more unpleasant to me than any other. This is why I had no trouble be befriending it in the first place. But it is such an unpleasant experience having it around, I regret feeding it in the first place. I know of many other cats I would gladly have as indoor pets.


Cats have varied personalities, just as we humans have. We all agree on toleration. I once had a cat that the vet said was schizophrenic. He wanted to put her down. No way! We lived together for 18 years. She did her thing; I did mine. We got along fine. Oh, she hated to be petted. If I'd sit real still, she'd climb into my lap, curl up and sleep. But, if I stroked her back once, she was gone. If company came, she ran under the nearest piece of furniture and stayed there until they left, be it eight hours (as it was with a painter once).

Yes, she was schizophrenic but we humans can't all claim perfect sanity. :-)

As for killing other animals, cats inherit the hunter-gatherer gene. Like squirrels, the cat is just storing up for the future - it thinks. So, what's in your freezer for the future? :-)
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Re: Domestic cats: Friend or Foe?

Postby zetreque on September 17th, 2015, 10:38 am 

vivian maxine » Thu Sep 17, 2015 5:38 am wrote: So, what's in your freezer for the future? :-)

My neighbor's cats.
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Re: Domestic cats: Friend or Foe?

Postby Braininvat on September 17th, 2015, 11:37 am 

Spit-take!!

LOL

BTW, while I don't want to open up a completely hopeless new sub-topic, how on earth can anyone determine schizophrenia in a CAT? I am trying to figure out what are the diagnostic markers of schizophrenia in an animal that gives the world a glassy-eyed stare half the time, and chases invisible objects the other half. Do you put the cat on the couch and it tells you about how all the neighborhood cats are conspiring against it? Hiding from visitors and resisting being petted don't seem to rise to the level of schizophrenia, certainly not in a cat.
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Re: Domestic cats: Friend or Foe?

Postby vivian maxine on September 17th, 2015, 12:03 pm 

Braininvat » September 17th, 2015, 10:37 am wrote:Spit-take!!

LOL

BTW, while I don't want to open up a completely hopeless new sub-topic, how on earth can anyone determine schizophrenia in a CAT? I am trying to figure out what are the diagnostic markers of schizophrenia in an animal that gives the world a glassy-eyed stare half the time, and chases invisible objects the other half. Do you put the cat on the couch and it tells you about how all the neighborhood cats are conspiring against it? Hiding from visitors and resisting being petted don't seem to rise to the level of schizophrenia, certainly not in a cat.


I don't know. Ask the vet. Then again, when it comes to chasing invisible things, she did that. In fact, she climbed doors. Seriously. She'd rise up against the door and do her best to climb. Of course, she couldn't get a claw-hold but I'd brace her back side and keep a hand at her back and up she'd go, all the way to the top where she managed to sit. Strange cat. She wasn't totally schizophrenic, though, since she trusted me to catch her when she came back down.

But other cats do something similar. I've had several who would sit on their haunches and paw at thin air as if they saw something I didn't see. And how do we know they didn't? :-)
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Re: Domestic cats: Friend or Foe?

Postby Braininvat on September 17th, 2015, 12:30 pm 

" Strange cat."

You realize the above phrase is redundant, right? I could sit here all day and relate anecdotes on the eccentricities of cats we've lived with, but I'll just mention Pelham, a 15 pound silver tabby, who would tremble and begin to emit an odd warbling meow whenever my father whistled The Marseillaise. Absolutely true, and utterly mystifying. Was he French in a previous life? No other tune had this effect.

Sounds like your cat was much a-door-ed.
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Re: Domestic cats: Friend or Foe?

Postby vivian maxine on September 17th, 2015, 1:27 pm 

Braininvat » September 17th, 2015, 11:30 am wrote:" Strange cat."

You realize the above phrase is redundant, right? I could sit here all day and relate anecdotes on the eccentricities of cats we've lived with, but I'll just mention Pelham, a 15 pound silver tabby, who would tremble and begin to emit an odd warbling meow whenever my father whistled The Marseillaise. Absolutely true, and utterly mystifying. Was he French in a previous life? No other tune had this effect.

Sounds like your cat was much a-door-ed.


Cute. Was the whistling a high-pitched sound? We had one of those CDs of cats meowing Christmas carols. Frien's cat went berserk when she played it. Had to turn it off. They may be able to hear higher pitches than we can but there seems to be a limit.
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Re: Domestic cats: Friend or Foe?

Postby wolfhnd on September 17th, 2015, 9:02 pm 

Cat's should be keep indoors and dogs on leashes. That is pretty much the ordinance that every civilized location has adopted.
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Re: Domestic cats: Friend or Foe?

Postby vivian maxine on September 18th, 2015, 8:12 am 

wolfhnd » September 17th, 2015, 8:02 pm wrote:Cat's should be keep indoors and dogs on leashes. That is pretty much the ordinance that every civilized location has adopted.


One more step there, Wolfhnd: "and most people ignore".
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Re: Domestic cats: Friend or Foe?

Postby Braininvat on September 18th, 2015, 1:40 pm 

wolfhnd » September 17th, 2015, 7:02 pm wrote:Cat's should be keep indoors and dogs on leashes. That is pretty much the ordinance that every civilized location has adopted.


My experience with cats certainly supports that. (and nice to see you back in SPCF town, Wolf....) An average sized house, especially if it has sunny window ledges and plenty of potted plants and other verdant things, provides an adequate territory for a domestic cat. I personally feel that declawing is inhumane (vascularized tissue, with nerve endings, is removed, and you have destroyed part of the cat's basic defense and climbing system), so that means that scratching posts and towers are a good idea and/or not sweating some threadbare areas on your upholstery and carpets.

Realistically, a cat that wants to hunt and explore may occasionally slip outside, which is another reason I don't believe in declawing. In such an escape situation, they may need those claws. Spaying housecat females, however, is essential, as an unspayed female who is kept indoors all spring and summer will be pretty hard to live with. And will often be plotting to sneak past you when you come in with a big sack of groceries or otherwise encumbered.
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Re: Domestic cats: Friend or Foe?

Postby Darby on September 18th, 2015, 2:45 pm 

I took in an elderly starving stray angora about 20 years ago that some inconceivably heartless bastard had abandoned at the ripe old age of 12+ yrs ... either that or she got lost (but I doubt that).

I had all her mange shaved off (I had to put her under briefly, since we hadn't bonded yet) and retired her from the hardships of outdoor scavenging, and made her last 2 years peaceful and comforting, and she rewarded me with a lot of affection. Every night she slept on my discarded clothing. In the end, her kidneys gave out (old age), so I rocked her to eternal sleep after the vet gave her a merciful final injection. I called her Midnight (she was black) for the benefit of friends, but in my heart she was Mare Imbrium, the Sea of Rain (or more poetically, The Sea of Tears).

Image

ANYWAY ...

Whether or not a cat is appropriate for your home depends on many factors ... whether or not allergies are an issue, temperment of the humans present, temperment of the cat(s) present, whether or not other potentially incompatible pets are present, whether or not they'll be indoors or outdoors or both, etc. Vaccinations are important, as is regular grooming and care depending on the species.

Last, declawing is a hot bed topic. Don't do it if the cat will be spending a lot of time outdoors, and especially not in a rural setting where they're on mousing detail, and only do it indoors if chronic clawing of furniture occurs despite the presence of a clawing post, or if young children are present. Taking off a cat's claws is akin to lopping off the last digit of all the fingers in your hands ... not the preferred solution. Simply keeping claws regularly trimmed is fairly easy and sufficient in most cases ... it's not hard to learn, and with good technique, most cats won't grief you about it.
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Re: Domestic cats: Friend or Foe?

Postby minime on January 8th, 2016, 9:53 pm 

Yeh Cats they are so cruel, hunting and killing other animals and not just for food sometimes for sport ugh ugh, thank goodness humans are not like that.
They even kill birds! Not like us eh.
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Re: Domestic cats: Friend or Foe?

Postby zetreque on January 8th, 2016, 10:05 pm 

minime » Fri Jan 08, 2016 6:53 pm wrote:Yeh Cats they are so cruel, hunting and killing other animals and not just for food sometimes for sport ugh ugh, thank goodness humans are not like that.
They even kill birds! Not like us eh.


Isn't that the point? Humans choose to have pets that disrupt the environment just as they make a lot of other poor choices.
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Re: Domestic cats: Friend or Foe?

Postby Dave_Oblad on January 8th, 2016, 11:12 pm 

Hi everyone,

Pets don't stop playing with you when they get old, they get old when you stop playing with them.

I've always had a cat and a dog as simultaneous playmates. They are always indoor pets and if introduced to each other when young, will bond and become great playmates for life. Here is a pic of my most recent pair, which is "Tiny" the dog (mixed breed poodle and terrier) and Dusty (mixed Siamese and ???).

My dog Newt (German Shepard) passed away shortly after my mother moved in with me. She wanted another dog, smaller than a Shepard, and she rescued this dog (shown below) from the animal shelter.

Pets.jpg
Tiny (dog) and Dusty (cat) were best friends.

Watching them make up their personal games and playing with each other brought great joy into our house. Dusty had a clawing post and never sharpened his claws on anything else. Dusty was about 8 years older than Tiny but took to him instantly, like they were always best buds. Dusty had to be euthanized last year due kidney failure (about 16 years old) and Mom passed this last Thanksgiving, so it's just Tiny and myself now. Upside is that I have to bring him to work with me and, being a family run Business, there are two other dogs here.. running up and down the hallways.. to keep Tiny company while I work.

I'm still trying to decide if I want another Cat. Of all the cats I've owned, Dusty has been the least problematic. He spoiled me..lol.

Regards,
Dave :^)
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Re: Domestic cats: Friend or Foe?

Postby minime on January 9th, 2016, 1:02 am 

zetreque » Sat Jan 09, 2016 2:05 pm wrote:
minime » Fri Jan 08, 2016 6:53 pm wrote:Yeh Cats they are so cruel, hunting and killing other animals and not just for food sometimes for sport ugh ugh, thank goodness humans are not like that.
They even kill birds! Not like us eh.


Isn't that the point? Humans choose to have pets that disrupt the environment just as they make a lot of other poor choices.


I don’t know if that is the point, but what type of pet would not disrupt the environment to some degree, its just nature being nature. don't worry be happy
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Re: Domestic cats: Friend or Foe?

Postby zetreque on January 9th, 2016, 1:06 am 

Guess we will have to disagree minime. Maybe some day cats can make the choice to have their own pets which will further destroy the habitat.
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Re: Domestic cats: Friend or Foe?

Postby minime on January 9th, 2016, 3:37 am 

zetreque » Sat Jan 09, 2016 5:06 pm wrote:Guess we will have to disagree minime. Maybe some day cats can make the choice to have their own pets which will further destroy the habitat.

Now you have hit the nail on the head and you have obviously never been owned by a Siamese lol
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Re: Domestic cats: Friend or Foe?

Postby zetreque on January 9th, 2016, 3:50 am 

Back to science please. In particular, Ecology.
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