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Quit ‘scaremongering’ about cats

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

To the Editor:

Greg Blass’ recent column (“Why you should keep your cat indoors,” Jan. 30, 2018) only adds to the misinformation and scaremongering on the subject of outdoor cats, thereby undermining any chance for reasonable discussions and fact-based reporting. Indeed, even a cursory review of the research Blass mentions reveals a number of significant flaws. His mortality estimate of 2.4 billion birds, for example, represents 75 percent of the total number of land birds estimated to be in the country (3.2 billion). One simply cannot reconcile such claims with the best population estimates available, or with the population trends documented by the annual North American Breeding Bird Survey.

As numerous published studies have demonstrated, only two methods have proven effective at reducing the number of free-roaming cats: intensive eradication efforts such as those employed on small oceanic islands, or targeted sterilization efforts. The horrific methods (many of which are outlawed in the U.S.) and astronomical costs involved in eradication campaigns make them a non-starter in public policy conversations. And the traditional approach to managing free-roaming cats (i.e., impoundment followed, in most cases, by lethal injection) has been used for more than 100 years in this country, with no evidence whatsoever that it’s produced any long-term population reduction. It’s also wildly unpopular and costly, the poster child for failed public policy. Targeted trap-neuter-vaccinate-return programs, by contrast, offer a commonsense, animal-friendly, effective, and economical alternative. No wonder such programs are becoming increasingly popular across the country, in communities large and small, urban and rural.

Peter J. Wolf, cat initiatives analyst
Best Friends Animal Society
Kanab, Utah

Editor’s note: The writer is free to take issue with the statistics quoted in Greg Blass’ column, but it is a mischaracterization to say they are “his” numbers. As Blass makes clear, he is quoting a report done by scientists from the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute and the Fish and Wildlife Service.