Friday, September 24, 2010

Keep the Stupid Cat Indoors!

Did you know that 2.7 billion songbirds are killed by cats each year?

Did you know that there are currently between 60 and 100 million cats being kept as house pets in the United States. This may, or may not, include feral cats and strays. About 70% of those cats are outdoor/indoor cats or strictly outdoor cats. That means tens of millions of domestic cats are given the opportunity to kill songbirds, every day?

Did you know that it is estimated that hundreds of millions of migratory songbirds are killed by domestic cats every year. A study conducted by Stanley Temple of the University of Wisconsin showed that domestic cats are responsible for the death of 19 million migratory songbirds a year, in Wisconsin alone. Being that domestic cats are an invasive species and not native to North America, they are not part of the natural food chain there. Not only are they killing birds that would have otherwise been safe from them, but they are doing so at such an alarming rate that they are actually taking food away from the animals that would naturally prey on migratory songbirds?

Did you know that several oft-cited studies form the basis for an estimate of 100 million to 1 billion U.S. songbirds killed annually by domestic cats?

If you didn't know about it before, now you do. So if you absolutely have to have a cat for whatever reason I will never understand, make sure you don't let it outside. My neighbors let their stupid cat roam free for hours every single day. We have a family of birds that is nesting in a tree next to my house, and I'm terrified about what this nasty cat might do to them. Honestly, I just hope that our resident opossum eats it or something.

Songbirds are beautiful and necessary for maintaining the ecological balance in this area. Domestic cats that people keep as furry toys are not. They are not indigenous to this continent, so all they do is destroy the ecological balance.
So please, please just keep the stupid cat indoors already.


Jennifer said...

Wow. Whilst I agree with your overall message, as the guardian of two indoor cats, I find your use of the descriptor 'stupid' rather juvenile. Does the term 'speciesism' mean anything to you? I agree completely that people need to take more responsibility for their cats, and that the high rate of songbirds killed is awful, but my cats (nor other people's) are not 'nasty' or 'stupid' for eating what they eat naturally. Grow up.

Also, I'd find this hilariously hypocritical if you consumed meat.

Jennifer said...

Oh, and FYI: I rescued both my cats from shelters before they were due to be put down, after being taken away from abusive households (on separate occasions). Can you understand that? They are considered to be members of my family; they are not 'kept' as 'furry toys'.

Clarissa said...

Jennifer: no, I don't and will never understand people keeping any kind of house pets. If, however, you don't let your cats outside where they can kill birds, then I don't have a problem with that and obviously this post is not addressed to you.

NancyP said...

My childhood cat was an indoor-outdoor cat who hunted, and brought prey to the doorstep to present to her human, me. She also barfed undigestable material from her kills, and since she was indoors as well, I saw the contents. I can't remember her ever bringing or barfing a bird. She caught hundreds of small rodents (mice and shrews) over her lifetime. I might add that we lived in the country in an old house with a storm cellar (Dorothy in Kansas) that also doubled as a root cellar, with a winter temperature varying from ~50 to ~65 degrees F, depending on location with respect to the furnace and heating ducts. Every critter in the world, from "pillbug" (short centipede-like creature with 10 or so legs, rolls up like an armadillo when bothered) to rodents, considered coming in for the winter, and the few that ventured in got killed by the cat. This cat was more than a "mere" pet, she was "The Exterminator".

If given the choice, cats prefer rodents as prey and meals. Birds that get killed are often those who stalk bird feeders of certain types. By the way, the common house sparrow is not indigenous to the Americas, and was brought over from Europe. These sparrows compete for and take away habitat from less numerous native birds.

Jennifer said...

@ Clarissa, I understand that it wasn't directed at me (as a person who does not let her cats outside), and I try not to take it personally :) However, as I said, I do object to your blanket generalization of cats as 'stupid', 'vile', and 'nasty'. In fact, I think all speciesism is ridiculous, and this post plays into this absurd notion that humans hold that non-human animals are less intelligent than we are. They're not, we just measure intelligence in a different way. I am, however, extrapolating; your thoughts may differ, and, for all I know, you might just dislike cats, and not any other non-human animals.

As for what I said about my cats (I use the word 'my' or 'mine' loosely. They are not mine, really - I certainly do not own them), I was relaying that information to try to show you that not all 'owners' collect cats or other pets like you seem to think. I care for mine because I feel that, given that humans have domesticated cats to the point where they find it difficult to survive in a city without human interaction, I have a duty to care for them. Obviously I can't care for them all, but two's a good start.

I don't know. I suppose I take offence because, looking at my girls, right now? They're anything but vile, stupid, and nasty. They're the most beautiful, loving little creatures I have had the pleasure of knowing. They possess very unique personalities, characteristics, and idiosyncrasies, and I genuinely consider them to be a part of my family (for the record, I'm not a stereotypical crazy cat lady. I'm a teenager, I live with my partner, and I only have two, not sixteen, aha).

butterflywings said...

I agree with Jennifer. Also, it's cruel to keep cats inside; they are naturally predators with large territories who roam. It's not like birds are endangered, is it? I've had cats and they only very occasionally brought back a bird, it's not as if there's some kind of evil cat massacre going on.

I particularly like your point Jennifer that given that cats have been domesticated by humans, which isn't our generations' fault, we have a duty to look after them.

Clarissa said...

I'm not surprised that people who claim to love animals are the ones who remain completely unaffected by the horrible statistic of 1,000,000 birds dying every day. The so-called animal lovers are actually very cruel people. They have a completely selfish whim to have an animal, which they castrate, declaw and paw around irrespective of whether the poor creature likes it or not. Some people keep huge dogs in city apartments, which is beyond cruel. I wish that somebody were to castrate and declaw people who do this stuff, seriously. Just to see how they like it.

Today, we finally have laws that prevent people from letting their dogs roam free. I only wish that such laws were introduced for all kinds of house pets.

I grew up in a place where people weren't obligated to walk their dogs on a leash. Of course, it was a scourge because stupid, nasty dogs attacked people, scratched them, tore their clothes, and bit them. I once saw a pitbull attack a toddler in the street. The pitbulls owner responded to the hysterical mother of the child with the exact same words used by commenters in this thread.

Jennifer said...

I don't see how I remain 'unaffected' by the statistic you've reiterated, given that I expressed that I agreed with you, and butterflywings stated that s/he agreed with me. Moreover to call us 'cruel' is a gross, unwarranted generalization. Tell me, Clarissa, do you consume meat? Do you eat dead carcasses? Have you ever? Do you eat eggs, or diary? Do you contribute to the mass murder and torture of animals? I'd say that's far crueler than my rescuing two animals from being euthanized.

Yes, some dogs attack humans. It happens. It certainly sounds like the owner didn't train her dog appropriately, and doesn't deserve to 'own' one. Frankly, I hope legal action was taken against her. Guess what? Humans routinely and methodically murder billions of non-human animals every year. If you live in the western world and consume meat, you kill, on average, ~100 animals a year. We crush billions of male baby chicks because we 'have no use for them' (i.e. we cannot profit from them). Does this compare to the mauling of one toddler? It doesn't.

If you're going to go for the ecosystem argument, then you should be advocating for the end of human life, simply.

Again, for the record, I haven't declawed or castrated my animals, another generalization. In Australia, where I live, declawing is illegal, in any case.

And, seeing as you've gone for the ad hominem, I will too: For someone in academia, I find your remarks awfully intellectually dishonest (or perhaps you actually don't see how your remarks are ignorant and foolish). Either way, thank goodness you aren't my teacher.

Clarissa said...

Jennifer, if you don't do any of the things that I criticize in the post and in the comments, then it should be obvious that neither the post nor the comments are critical of you. They are critical of those people who do these things. So I honestly don't understand why you are getting so upset. Thinking that every word people say is about you is, of course, a sign of a very healthy self-esteem. However, sometimes it's useful to realize that not everything is about you.

On this blog, I don't teach. I write about things that interest me or that I want to address. Blogging isn't work for me, it's my way of having fun. In class, I don't teach about cats. I teach about Hispanic Civilization. It feels weird to have to explain that.

I will never understand how the behavior of people (not you, other people) who let their animals out with no concern for what they do can be excused. No number of specious arguments about how billions of slaughtered songbirds don't matter because worse things are happening all over the world will make me agree that it's fine to do that because of a whim.

I would also be very grateful if you quote a sentence of mine where I say that you personally are cruel BECAUSE you took animals out of a shelter.

It's very tiring to argue with people's projections.

Melissa said...

Yeah, I agree with you here. Having outdoor cats puts smaller animals in danger from the cats...and the cats in danger from bigger animals and cars!
Of course, if someone owns a cat who used to be a stray or desperately wants to go outside for some other reason, then I can understand letting that particular cat out--no one wants to make their pet miserable. But cats that were bred or raised in shelters? Any cat that was adopted as a kitten? Keep him/her inside. Indoor cats who've never been outdoor cats are typically perfectly content and even afraid of the outside. And that way they're safe and only eat things that've been...y'know...dead for a while. And consumed in quantities the cat can handle so the life isn't wasted.

NancyP said...

Cats can hunt small animals in apartments. One apartment had mice when I moved in. Two weeks later, when I brought the cat from home, the mouse problem vanished (maybe someone else on another floor got the mice).

Tom Carter said...

Well. I have a cat whose name is Cat (very creative of me, huh?). He stays indoors, but even if he went outdoors his favorite prey wouldn't be those irritating and noisy birds. Here's a picture of him about to attack his favorite prey.

I read this post to him, and he's banned you from his house forever. He means it.