Oddly, another story about killing cats was making national headlines at the same time her article was published. Last Friday, Alley Cat Allies, a national cat advocacy organization, broke the story of a National Audubon Society editor-at-large who took to the Orlando Sentinel, a major metropolitan newspaper, an article which advocated that citizens get rid of millions of cats by poisoning them with a common over-the-counter medication. In defense of the cats, Alley Cat Allies quickly gathered an incredible 30,000 emails and sent them directly to Audubon CEO David Yarnold and Chairman B. Holt Thrasher. Because of overwhelming public response to his article, the Audubon Society suspended the author, Ted Williams, from his position over the weekend.
Devoid of facts, most anti-cat articles are rather tired and usually bring up some spectacular statistics in trying to substantiate the argument that outdoor cats have significant impact on bird populations. The Nature Communications Journal study, which Carol Carson's column was based on, has been criticized and challenged by the president of the Humane Society of the United States, saying “there is nothing to be gained by demonizing cats,” and catching and euthanizing feral cats is “morally wrong” and “publicly unsupportable.” In a national poll, 81 percent of respondents prefer to leave such a cat outside, to live out its natural life, rather than take it to a shelter. Feral cats have the right to live. Killing unadoptable cats is a cruel and proven ineffective approach. For more information on feral cat concerns, with data-driven and documented conscientious discussion, visit Vox Felina at www.voxfelina.com.
The very real problems to worldwide bird decline are habitat loss, urban sprawl, pollution and environmental degradation, including pesticide and herbicide use. There really is no credible evidence to show cats have any significant impact on bird populations. We want what's best for all animals, including birds, and that means taking a hard look at what we as humans can do to save the environment. Let's face it, people are the most significant contributor to bird death. When it comes to declining bird populations, the comic strip Pogo was right: “We have met the enemy and he is us.”
Locally, Project Purr, a feral cat advocate organization, offers a low-cost feral cat spay and neuter program for all residents of Santa Cruz County, regardless of income, and no voucher required. Trap-neuter-return is a kind, effective and compassionate way to help feral cats, prevent unwanted kittens and save cats’ lives. The cats receive rabies vaccines and are ear-tipped, a permanent visual identification. After surgery, the cats are returned to their homes, fed and monitored daily. The program allows the animal shelter to focus resources on finding homes for adoptable cats. TNR lowers free-roaming cat populations. Be a neighborhood hero: Set an example and help teach our children a kinder, gentler way to care for animals. Make our neighborhoods safer, healthier and happier. For information, visit www.projectpurr.org.Santa Cruz resident Lynne Achterberg co-founded Project Purr more than two decades ago.