That’s not a still from the latest sci-fi blockbuster »« Pity and pitilessness

I’VE BEEN WARNING YOU ALL

They’re evil…EEEEEEEVVVIIIIILLL.

In a horrifying study, ordinary housecats were fitted with little cameras to monitor their activities throughout the day and night. It turns out that cats are carnivores, real predators, that scurried about murdering little creatures. Are you surprised?

About 30 percent of the sampled cats were successful hunters and killed, on average, two animals a week. Almost half of their spoils were abandoned at the scene of the crime. Extrapolating from the data to include the millions of feral cats brutalizing native wildlife across the country, the American Bird Conservancy estimates that kitties are killing more than 4 billion animals annually. And that number’s based on a conservative weekly kill rate, said Robert Johns, a spokesman for the conservancy.

"We could be looking at 10, 15, 20 billion wildlife killed (per year)," Johns said.

When we had cats, they were confined to the house, and only allowed outside under close supervision, because we understood their savage, beastly natures.

Comments

  1. Happiestsadist says

    Neither of ours are outdoor cats (we live in a city), and I don’t understand why people would let their cats out to kill stuff get run over, or get eaten by other wildlife.

    That said, I get mewed at when a bug shows up in the house by one cat until I get it out, and the other hides. Mine are truly failcats.

  2. M Groesbeck says

    My cat’s too lazy to hunt anything much bigger than a moth. (She actually had trouble with the helpless pet-store mice a dude I was renting from released in my building in an attempt to make some sort of point in a dispute with the owners.) Definitely an inside cat. (Also — can’t stand other cats, but adores can openers grooming machines heating pads people.)

    Yes, cats are absolutely still predators, as if the teeth didn’t get in the way. And yet some of them at least still seem to enjoy the company of people. We aren’t the only species capable of selective empathy! (Dogs, too. And, well, just about any social predator.)

  3. bassmanpete says

    Ours are confined to the house but with access to an outside run that allows them to bask in the sunshine and eat the grass.

    Wonder what the number is for wildlife killed annually by humans? Here in Australia roadkill alone is huge.

  4. She of Infinite Seepage says

    Wait…you mean mice and birds don’t actually defend themselves with anvils and dynamite? So disillusioned.

  5. says

    My cats are too dumb to be let out of the house.

    When Pickles fell out of a three story window a few months ago*, she hid under my neighbor’s porch all day and didn’t once cry. *sigh*

    *Her only injury was a scrape on the back of her leg. She has a little scar there now.

  6. joed says

    What I hear is that kittens must be taught to eat their kill. They will naturally “play” with a mouse or bird and kill it but without lessons that the kill is food the kitten will not eat.
    That’s the way I hear it on the street anyway.

  7. says

    Surprised? Not in the least. Housecats (and by extension, feral cats as enough people don’t desex their pets) have been devastating to the wildlife down here in Oz.

  8. says

    I really have a serious problem with people who let their cats roam around outside. It’s your fucking cat, keep it on your fucking property, please.

    Half my income is derived from photographing birds and I’ve gone to fair expense to set up a situation which allows me to get paying photos. I do not appreciate other people’s damn cats killing birds on *my* property, nor do I appreciate the digging, spraying and shitting they do on *my* property.

    I have two large kennels (accessible from inside) to accommodate my cats, so they can enjoy outside without bothering anyone else or endangering their lives.

  9. says

    They’re tiny household sociopaths predators. They put on an act so we will take care of them.

    My family had an 18-lb former tomcat who kept the yard free of snakes, whacked a bird out of the air mid-flight, and ran the neighbor’s German shepherd off the property. And that cat was declawed. (Please don’t lecture me on the declawing, I didn’t do it.)

    The cat who currently lets me live in his house is a fluffy boy who looks like a Disney doodle, but you can tell that given a chance he’d be a serial killer.

  10. says

    My little cat Chloe (2 years old and still tiny and kittenish)
    loves to go on bug hunts.

    She talks a lot, mostly under her breath, as she worriedly walks around the house looking at the ceiling for spiders. If she can;t find any she comes to me and complains, so we go on a bug hunt together.

    I hold her up in one hand, she’s so light, so she can get a better view of the ceiling, and I walk her through the rooms while she scans. When we spot one, I hoist her up on that one hand to the ceiling and she knocks her prey to the floor and I let her down to play.

    Last night’s hunt ended in disappointment so she played with her ball-in-a-track game for a while.

    It’s incredibly cute and sweet.

  11. says

    We bred cats because of their predatory skills. I guess the problem is that we no longer have so much mice and wild life in our houses, and that people get cats for fun. So cats have to satisfy their instincts with wild life.

    Anyway, I have a question for cat people. How exactly do you stop a cat from leaving your house? I mean, I used to own cats when much, much younger and I don’t ever remember it being anyone’s choice but the cat whether it will leave the house or not. Those things are nasty.

  12. malmo says

    Interesting, because the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) says:

    “Despite the large numbers of birds killed, there is no scientific evidence that predation by cats in gardens is having any impact on bird populations UK-wide. This may be surprising, but many millions of birds die naturally every year, mainly through starvation, disease, or other forms of predation. There is evidence that cats tend to take weak or sickly birds. We also know that of the millions of baby birds hatched each year, most will die before they reach breeding age. This is also quite natural, and each pair needs only to rear two young that survive to breeding age to replace themselves and maintain the population. It is likely that most of the birds killed by cats would have died anyway from other causes before the next breeding season, so cats are unlikely to have a major impact on populations. If their predation was additional to these other causes of mortality, this might have a serious impact on bird populations.

    Those bird species that have undergone the most serious population declines in the UK (such as skylarks, tree sparrows and corn buntings) rarely encounter cats, so cats cannot be causing their declines. Research shows that these declines are usually caused by habitat change or loss, particularly on farmland.”
    http://www.rspb.org.uk/advice/gardening/unwantedvisitors/cats/birddeclines.aspx

    So leave the cats alone!

  13. coragyps says

    Squid, on the other hand, are vegans. And octopi/puses/podes will take a little warm milk occasionally, but are pretty much vegetarian.

    Uh-huh.

  14. Stacy says

    “Savage and beastly natures” is of course a compliment.

    But, yeah. Keep ‘em indoors. For their own sakes as well as the wild critters.

  15. Happiestsadist says

    Vexorian: We…don’t let the one cat that has any interest out the door? I mean, he knows how to unlock the latches and turn the knob, but lacks the strength and thumbs to actually open it. I don’t see how it’s hard. And, as should be clear, he tries.

    The other one is terrified of Out, and thus is zero problem.

  16. says

    malmo: The study motherjones linked says that they found out that cats kill far more than we thought and that they tend to leave corpses in the ‘crime scene’ instead of bringing them home, so until this we attributed less deaths to cats. So the bird association might change their stance after these new results.

  17. robster says

    Our 3 kilo siamese, 13 years old, soft, cute, affectionate and a love in our house never gets out without supervision. It’s not that hard, just care a bit.

  18. says

    Of course, a cat’s predatory instincts were still subject to artificial selection, because of their role in pest control. Their size limits the damage they can do to their owners. Most dogs had more social behaviors selected with less emphasis on killing pests. Imagine how much more destruction they could wreak if they had killer instincts more widespread through the species artificially selected. In the wild, canids are amazing killers.

  19. twincats says

    I have a basement cat with a complex (So. Cal. homes don’t tend to have basements) plus, he never got the memo. I’ve told him that he’s an evil basement cat, but I guess the info has to come through the proper channels and we’re not it.

    He’s always been an indoor cat and loves to look out various windows, but has no interest in leaving the great indoors. Which is good because we’re adjacent to hawk/eagle territories and outside cats have it just as bad as their prey ’round here.

    I got him from a friend who lived in an apartment and he was freaked out for the better part of the year over the fact that our house has more than one exit/entrance. He’s still mystified when we use the laundry room exit to the garage and will sit in the hallway till we come back in. Lucky for him, we only go in and out that way to do yard work.

  20. madscientist says

    I get the impression that most cat people have no idea what the beasties get up to. “Oh, my cat would *never* do that”, and “dogs are a far bigger problem” etc. I wonder if those people ever did watch their cats. One of the funniest I hear is “my cat can’t catch birds, the birds are far too quick” which I always hear as “I don’t know that it’s really easy even for humans to catch birds so I’ll assume my cat is somehow incapable of catching birds”.

    Those damned cats are clever too – I put a bell on one and the beast just sat patiently under the trees until a bird was within striking distance. I was surprised by the instant change in hunting tactics.

  21. says

    I get the impression that most cat people have no idea what the beasties get up to.

    you’d probably be wrong, since plenty of cat owners are not stupid enough to let their cats outside.

    Still, many of those who do let them outside probably are ignorant of the damage fluffykitteh can do.

  22. malmo says

    Vexorian: you’re right. I looked at an abstract of the original study done by the Mammal Society. They did base their numbers on the assumption that the cats brought their kills ‘home’. In retrospect it seems like an obvious mistake.

  23. says

    Anyway, I have a question for cat people. How exactly do you stop a cat from leaving your house? I mean, I used to own cats when much, much younger and I don’t ever remember it being anyone’s choice but the cat whether it will leave the house or not.

    did your house have permanent holes in the walls or something?

  24. KG says

    But… but… they’re cute!

    @14 I’m not wholly convinced by the RSPB’s argument, since the limiting factor on populations of small birds may be the number of good nesting sites – where “good” includes being reasonably safe from predators. Small birds need to cope with predation on their eggs and chicks from above (where I live, mainly from crows, magpies and herring gulls) as well as below (cats and rats).

  25. says

    Could somebody please answer this for me?

    One of the old superstitions is that you have bad luck if a black cat crosses your path. Black cats are commonly associated with witches and more.

    Now, I know black is a coat-color, so “black cat” is not a specific type of cat. So what type of cat is shown? I think y’all know what I’m talking about… with black, short, silky fur…

    Like this one

    Is there one specific type of cat with black fur used in the association, or does the type not matter?

  26. says

    One pet owner, Evet Loewen, was particularly scandalized by what she saw and almost dropped out of the study. After downloading a day’s worth of video recordings from her cat Ursa’s Kitty Cam, she caught the former feral committing the Unspeakable.

    “You could see her whiskers and you could see her staring at the sky, looking at the trees…and in this particular instance…it was clear that she was under the deck of my house and had a bird,” Loewen said. “And she hadn’t ripped the bird apart yet, but it was clear that the bird was in great distress and it was very upsetting.”

    “I stopped watching because I knew what the end point was, that the bird wasn’t going to live. I was very upset with my cat.”

    Oh, FFS. Does this woman have any understanding of nature beyond Disney movies?

    /1 cat, indoor only

    Vexorian:

    How exactly do you stop a cat from leaving your house?

    What, your house doesn’t have doors that you can close and windows with screens?

  27. Cunning Pam says

    @29 It’s probably a moggie, the feline equivalent of ‘mutt’, and as such can have different actual breeds in its lineage. Domestic shorthair is kind of the default cat breed, but the average moggie can have the genetic material of several different breeds in them, and will have a slightly different look based on that background. In our three-cat household, all three of them are black or black tabby moggies, with medium-length fur, but they’re all very different looking from each other. One is very Maine Coon looking, another obviously has some Persian if you look at the shape of the eyes, face and muzzle, and the third has the elongated head, long nose and very fluffy tail of a Balinese. It’s fascinating to try to figure out the genetics of the average housecat.

    PS – Yes, cats are serious predators, and no, ours do not go outside, for their protection as well as the local wildlife’s. For the person who didn’t understand how to keep cats indoors, the answer is: You train them. Cats can be trained, which many people don’t realize. Albert, our Balinese-alike, is smart as a whip and will even do tricks.

  28. nonny says

    Of course cats are predators. It’s what makes them fun to play with. They love to pounce on anything that happens to be moving- a stick, an apron string, a human hand.

    I think the indoor cat is a cultural phenomenon. Our cats have always been allowed outside and so have the cats of everyone I know. It might be different in big cities like London where the traffic is heavier.

    In Europe, cats have been part of the scenery for much longer, and so the native wildlife has probably adjusted to them, in the same way it has adjusted to human presence. I think in Britain, they came over with the Romans, although there were wildcats before that, a seperate species which can interbreed. Obviously cats are much newer to America.

    I don’t think my cat would be happy indoors. Every morning, she starts yowling to be let out as soon as we come downstairs. When we try to take her in at night (for her own safety, because of the dangers of cars and foxes) she’ll hide in the bushes or run around the garden trying not to be caught.

    I accept her nature as a predator. I eat meat, I’m a predator too.

  29. amethyststarling says

    I don’t let my cats out (I live in a major city on a major road) but about five years back we ended up with mice in the house while my dad was renovating the kitchen. My cat, sat dutifully in the kitchen for three solid months straight, looking for that damn mouse. One night, I was still up at about two in the morning and I hear a scuffling sound in the kitchen. Ten seconds later i she her trotting along happily with the damn mouse hanging out of her mouth. She then runs for my room with the mouse. Now at that point it had become a joke with her waiting out in the kitchen day after day for the mouse so my mom named the mouse Fred and would always say the cat is looking for Fred. So I run upstairs after her and shut my door, and wake up my parents laughing and saying “Dinah caught Fred” Well my parents wake up and my dad tries to catch Dinah and the mouse (meanwhile I keep saying if that mouse jumps on my bed I won’t sleep in it) My mom runs and gets a plastic container and my dad is able to get the mouse away from my cat. And he takes the mouse outside to release it, and that mouse took of like a bat out of hell in the exact opposite of our house.

    She is still a cutie though!

  30. says

    In Europe, cats have been part of the scenery for much longer, and so the native wildlife has probably adjusted to them, in the same way it has adjusted to human presence. I think in Britain, they came over with the Romans, although there were wildcats before that, a seperate species which can interbreed. Obviously cats are much newer to America.

    I’m German. none of my cats have ever been outdoor cats.

  31. magistramarla says

    Our two spoiled, overweight cats always stay indoors.
    We live in (not near) a wildlife preserve. We regularly see coyotes, skunks, raccoons, wild turkeys, deer, hawks, and even have an occasional mountain lion spotted in our neighborhood. Many of my neighbors keep outdoor cats to control the ground squirrel population, but those cats often disappear. The lives and companionship of my two boys mean much more to me than the lawn!
    My husband’s cat is a bully. He lords it over my cat, who is a big coward. He even stalks and attacks my German Shepherd service dog, who is afraid of him.

  32. Happiestsadist says

    Ms. Daisy @ #36: Ha!

    We got some very fun toys for our vicious little housebeasts today: standard cat-toy-sized balls, made of compressed catnip. It’s been as fun for us to watch as it’s been for them to trip balls.

  33. says

    Vexorian, I’ve had a number of cats that were very determined to go outside, usually because they’d been permitted outside with supervision, and then got addicted and thought they should be allowed to do it whenever they wanted. (Some of my rescue cats have also taken a while to learn that they’re supposed to stay in.) I do agree with you that a sufficiently determined cat can be pretty difficult to keep inside. But even so, there are things you can do to keep them in.

    The biggest problem, in my experience, is cats slipping past your ankles when you open and close the door to the outside. In every case, I and the others I shared a house with developed a sort of dance we’d do to block the cat from leaving. Usually what this involves when going out is one person keeping the cat away from the door until everybody else has passed through, and then you open the door as little as possible to let yourself through and finally, watching where the cat is the whole time, use your legs and hands to block it from escaping as you slip out. Conversely, if you’re going in from the outside, the first person in blocks/grabs the cat, and then the others follow. It helps a lot if there aren’t any obstacles against the wall near the door that might get in your way, but that the cat might easily able to slip past (e.g. a small table where you drop your keys). If you’re going in and out repeatedly over a short interval (e.g. bringing in the groceries), lock the cat in a different room so that you don’t have to do this dance on every single trip.

    Generally what you find if you do this consistently over time is that you get good enough at it to keep the cat in most of the time, and the cat also slowly starts to accept that “out” is not a part of its universe. Providing a sufficiently stimulating indoor environment, along with open windows and/or a protected outdoor play area can also help reduce their incentive to sneak out on their own.

    Two of my own permanent cats and one of the rescues are also sufficiently responsive and intelligent that we can go for rambles with them outdoors (at night, when there are no scary strangers around) and expect them to stay close to us, stay away from the street, and return reasonably promptly when called. So they can go out reasonably safely, but we’re always right there to intervene if there’s any trouble, and they don’t necessarily just get the idea that they can go out whenever they want. (They also don’t do any hunting when we’re there looking over their shoulders.) But I wouldn’t try that trick with most cats. With the older two, this was something that we developed inadvertently due to certain oddities in our previous living situation, and with the newer rescue, him following me around like that after I fed him a few times was how we got to know each other in the first place.

    Another one of my rescues wasn’t so lucky. She was pretty smart and street-savvy when I brought her in, and she had a thing for the outdoors. After my neighbors adopted her a year ago, they had a lot of trouble keeping her from going out, and going out seemed to make her so happy that they didn’t have the heart to restrict her completely and would occasionally let her out and just try to keep an eye on her. So a couple weeks ago, she got out one morning (despite their attempt to keep her in) and got killed by one of the assholes who tear down our tiny little one-way street with densely-parked cars on both sides and plenty of children and pets living on it like it’s the fucking Autobahn. The driver didn’t even stop.

    My cats don’t go out any more around here at all.

  34. trewesterre says

    A former roommate of mine used to let my cat out. I think that the cat killed a squirrel and tried to give it to me as a present but fortunately he left it at the wrong door. I stopped letting him outside after she moved out (she wasn’t listening to the “don’t let the cat out” bit). It took away a lot of worrying about him getting hit by a car and it probably saved a lot of wildlife that he’d hunt for sport otherwise.

  35. says

    also, I very much doubt European wildlife has “adapted” to ever-growing cat populations.

    now, if we could train cats to only hunt pigeons, maybe it would even out. otherwise, I call bullshit.

    I also call bullshit of “I don’t think our cat would be happy” sort of comments. a cat raised to be an indoor cat doesn’t become unhappy at that fact for no good reason, and even many domesticated strays adapt very well to being indoor cats. won’t stop them from occasionally whining, but that’s not the same as being unhappy.

  36. Happiestsadist says

    Some people I knew back home used to let their cats out. Then suddenly both vanished. And they later found their collars under an eagle’s nest.

    Then there’s the coyotes, raccoons, foxes, bobcats and mean, scary assholes who were out at night everywhere there. And the fact that nobody in that damn town could drive.

  37. Happiestsadist says

    Jadehawk @ #42: Hell yeah to your last comment. My ancient kitty currently on my lap runs in terror when a door to Out opens, and spends her carrier trips to the vet’s in terror, only relaxing when she’s safely inside (home or the vet’s). I can’t see her as exactly unhappy that she’s not out there.

    Also, I’d like to eat nothing but veggie sushi, pie, fruit and ice cream and spend all day having vigorous sex and reading comic books. I’m not unhappy that this isn’t my life.

  38. says

    Jadehawk:

    now, if we could train cats to only hunt pigeons, maybe it would even out. otherwise, I call bullshit.

    I also call bullshit of “I don’t think our cat would be happy” sort of comments.

    Thank you. People soaking in entitlement don’t seem to understand that they do not have the right to inflict their animal on anyone (or anything) else.

  39. says

    Happiestsadist:

    Some people I knew back home used to let their cats out. Then suddenly both vanished. And they later found their collars under an eagle’s nest.

    I saw an eagle take a woman’s terrier one day. Holy shit, that was terrible. People don’t think.

  40. Happiestsadist says

    That is pretty horrifying, Caine. They didn’t see the eagle take their cats, but, you know, evidence.

  41. Alverant says

    And how many of those animals are pests like mice and rats? You know, animals that bring disease and naw at our houses and eat our food.

    I had a cat who loved going outside. He didn’t hunt, just lie on the warm sidewalk.

    And how does wanting to hunt for food (for themselves or for their family) evil?

  42. Mattir says

    It is extremely difficult to transform a semi-feral cat into an indoor-only cat, at least until they are quite elderly. This has, however, led me to peruse cat enclosure designs for the needs of the Demon Kitten, who is currently unable to go outdoors since he is not old enough for neutering. Not quite sure how I’ll sell the fambilly on this, but I’ll try. I do have enough land that my cats tend to stay on my own property (I’ve followed them on their territory walks from time to time, which is how I can be even vaguely confident of this…)

  43. says

    Caine:

    People soaking in entitlement don’t seem to understand that they do not have the right to inflict their animal on anyone (or anything) else.

    Well said.

    I had a neighbor several years ago who let his dog run free; it crapped in my yard a few times. Eventually the dog got hit by a car and was paralyzed from the waist down (if you will). The neighbor rigged up a wheeled platform that served as a sort of canine wheelchair for the poor thing. So he ended up having to take it on walks anyway.

  44. says

    Alverant: The cats aren’t “evil” for doing what they evolved to do. But humans who let their cats run free aren’t being considerate to their neighbors, and they’re inflicting damage on the environment.

    Sure, they kill mice and rats. They also kill other things, such as songbirds. We domesticated cats to keep our grain supplies free of rodents. If you don’t have a grain silo on your property, you have less of a need for your cat to run around killing things.

  45. anuran says

    They’re just like cephalopods: Efficient, highly adapted killing machines. We excuse it in the cephalopods because octopuses are cuter than cats.

  46. says

    I live in Newark, NJ. My neighborhood is full of cars and unleashed dogs. I recently took in a kitten that I’d found crying in an alley. I heard her crying for three days and when I finally found her she was terrified and nothing but skin and bones. I don’t know who Jonesy belonged to, or if she was part of a litter and the mom died, but it makes me so angry that someone could abandon her and/or let her out in such a dangerous neighborhood. I’m next to a heavily trafficked road and dog-fighting is common around here. Thankfully, my mom took Jonesy in, since I’m not in a position to care for a pet. I really wish that people would spay/neuter their pets b/c I don’t know what would have happened to Jonesy if I wasn’t able to find her. She didn’t seem to know how to fend for herself at all.
    Oh, the worst part, I think, is that I tried so hard to get her into a no-kill shelter and that was damn near impossible. Newark’s shelter kills very quickly after intake and all the NYC ones I talked to were full. Thank goodness for mom!

  47. says

    And how many of those animals are pests like mice and rats? You know, animals that bring disease and naw at our houses and eat our food.

    Those animals really aren’t pests until they start damaging your property. Even when they do, most pest control options try to limit “collateral damage”.

    The problem with cats as an invasive species (and they are) is the damage they do not just to “pest” species but to the other indigenous species we’d want to preserve.

    I had a cat who loved going outside. He didn’t hunt, just lie on the warm sidewalk.

    Did you observe the cat the entire time? Do you know for a fact that all he did was sun himself? If so, cool. Supervised outdoors time isn’t a problem. Responsible ownership includes making sure your animal doesn’t damage anything that doesn’t belong to you (or isn’t trespassing on your property).

    And how does wanting to hunt for food (for themselves or for their family) evil?

    I think PZ was being silly (although I’m not entirely sure > .>). Pretty much all the anger in this thread has been (rightfully) directed at the owners of the cats, not the cats themselves.

  48. rrede says

    All our cats are indoor cats–and that was true when we had 13. They are at risk for being killed by coyotes where we live, by stray dogs, by cars, by ingesting poisonous substances–and by the horrific parasites that infest Texas. (All of ours were rescue cats, so all were darn glad to be indoors and didn’t complain at all; they know how rotten it is out there).

    That said, as I understand it, humans wanted the predators to kill the rats and mice and rodents who ate the grain and infested human habitations–so we really shouldn’t complain at getting predators (though many cats won’t hunt/kill even if they are hungry).

    What pisses me off is the people who won’t spay and neuter (down here, even with low cost options, people say it’s against God’s will–there’s a reason why I did the fostering and care for animals with the group I worked with and didn’t ever deal with people, grrrrrr).

  49. marinerachel says

    I think most indoor cats are under-stimulated. Of course there are major risks involved in letting your cats out that don’t exist indoors. I’m not convinced the risk of cats being killed due to being outdoors unattended is as great as people claim though. Most outdoor cats will never be hit by cars or taken by coyotes. I do believe cats who have outdoor access, who don’t suffer as a result of it, have greater quality of life than cats who spend their entire lives in a studio apartment.

    I also believe the impact they have on ecosystems can be devastating. Of course they’re killers. So, while the “BUT THEY MIGHT DIE OUT THERE” argument doesn’t convince me to keep cats cooped up, I can’t justify free-range cats either.

    I’m sure keeping a cat indoors can be done right. I just don’t think it usually is. I’ll have cats again when I have a sufficiently large home and a yard with a cat-proof fence and the time to supervise. Until then, I can’t see myself providing a cat with the quality of life they deserve.

  50. says

    That said, as I understand it, humans wanted the predators to kill the rats and mice and rodents who ate the grain and infested human habitations–so we really shouldn’t complain at getting predators (though many cats won’t hunt/kill even if they are hungry).

    rrede, you’re not the first one to say something like this in this thread, but you reminded me that I wanted to comment on this issue.

    It always strikes me as slightly off when cat evolution and the relationship between cats and humans is discussed as though modern domestic cats are the product of some kind of concerted and deliberate selection and enticement by humans. I’ve never heard any evidence that this is really the case, and it seems like an odd proposition in light of everything we see today about how cats live with humans in most places that aren’t wealthy modern western nations. For the most part, they live on the fringes of human society and breed and care for themselves. They scavenge human scraps and eat the smaller animals that also feed on those scraps, and a few lucky ones might actually be allowed to share human homes and receive more regular feeding, but for the most part they pretty much run their own lives and choose their own mates and their own level of contact with humans. Even in the modern west, we still have large feral and half-tame populations that live this same way. Every single one of my own cats came out of just such a population.

    From this it seems far more likely to me that modern “domestic” cats and our relationship with them are primarily a product of natural selection with humans just happening to form an important part of the environment, rather than cats having been deliberately chosen and bred by humans (so-called “purebreds” excluded). As is true of cats in so many other ways, the story of feline evolution is a story of creatures who like us, and who may even need us to some extent, but who sure as hell actually don’t belong to us.

  51. markr1957 - old enough to know better says

    Our second adoptee is Tucker, a tux from a local rescue organization, and we keep him indoors. In spite of this he still manages to kill any cockroach or lizard unfortunate enough to come into the house. It’s perhaps lucky that Tucker, the little fucker, is scared of outdoors and pretty much anything else new in his world.

  52. Trebuchet says

    And how many of those animals are pests like mice and rats? You know, animals that bring disease and naw at our houses and eat our food.

    A different article about the same study, which was linked by another FTBlogger whose post I can’t find just now, indicated that the largest portion of the prey were reptiles and amphibians — frogs, snakes and lizards. That makes sense. Cats like to hunt at night, and those critters become torpid when it’s cool. When we had outdoor cats, many years ago, the little black one figured out where the garter snakes were holed up one winter. He’d bring us two or three a day. Alive. All our cats since him have been indoor only. Among other things, the vet bills are much lower.

  53. Cunning Pam says

    And how many of those animals are pests like mice and rats? You know, animals that bring disease and naw at our houses and eat our food.

    That’s what snakes, foxes, coyotes and hawks (among others) are for.

  54. says

    @59 I disagree on the domestication of cats being purely a matter of natural selection. I watched an interesting documentary about an experiment domesticating foxes. They were able to selectively breed over generations tamer foxes with dog-like behaviors. The tendency to be tame can be understood if you think of the rare animal that retains juvenile dependent behaviors into adulthood.

    The fact that most,normal domestic cats are affectionate into adulthood with their owners proves that that particular behavior has been artificially selected.

  55. says

    At the risk of starting a whole different argument, can someone explain the whole spaying and neutering thing? I’m not asking out of personal credulity, but honest ignorance. I know Ace (only pet I ever had… a Maine Coon moggie, but I don’t know what the rest of the mix was besides the Maine Coon) was spayed and neutered, but I don’t think I ever figured out why.

    We humans would (rightly) freak out if someone tried to spay and neuter us.

    I can understand if you’re not looking to end up with new kittens all the time, but beyond that, why do it?

  56. firstnamelastname says

    Cats are even worse than an oil-spill of multi-continent-sized proportions. They not only kill off rare and endangered marine-mammals along all coastlines (just as all oil-spills do) from run-off from the land carrying cats’ Toxoplasma gondii parasites, they also destroy the complete food-chain in every ecosystem where cats are found today. From smallest of prey that is gutted and skinned alive for cats’ tortured play-toys (not even used for food, just for senseless play), up to the top predators that are starved to death from cats destroying their ONLY food sources. (Precisely what cats caused on my own land not long ago.) THEY DON’T DESTROY JUST BIRDS. THEY DESTROY EVERYTHING THAT MOVES — DIRECTLY OR INDIRECTLY. They will even destroy valuable native vegetation by destroying those animals that are required pollinators for those plants or those that act as seed dispersers for those plants (as many smaller rodent and bird species do) or those that act as pest-control for those plants. CATS CAN AND WILL WIPE OUT WHOLE ECOSYSTEMS EVENTUALLY — ANIMAL AND PLANT.

    Cats need to be made to disappear from all non-native habitats — PERMANENTLY. And the sooner the better!

  57. firstnamelastname says

    Licensing and laws do nothing to curb the problem. If cats are required to be licensed then cat-lovers just stop putting collars on their cats, as they did by me. And they won’t even bother getting them micro-chipped, especially not that They want absolutely nothing that can hold them legally responsible, liable, and accountable for the actions of their cats. It’s why many of them even keep cats in the first place. We’re not talking about the topmost responsible citizens of the world, you know. They don’t want that responsibility of what their cat has done coming back on them. If they had even one iota of a sense of responsibility and respect for all other lives on this planet we wouldn’t even be having these discussions.

    On the other hand, I found something that DOES work, and works well, and works fast (well, relative to the years it takes trying to reason with deceitful and lying cat-lovers that accomplishes ABSOLUTELY NOTHING). Where I live cat-lovers have learned that _ALL_ cats, stray and feral, collared or not, ear-tipped or not (because TNR con-artist liars now just clip cats’ ears only without sterilizing or vaccinating them, to protect their hoarded cats from being trapped and euthanized), _ALL_ their cats are humanely shot on sight and buried whenever found away from supervised confinement. (Buried or incinerated to protect our valuable native wildlife from all the deadly diseases these invasive species cats spread today, even after they are dead.)

    The ONLY thing that works is destroying any of their cats found outdoors on your property. They either learn to stop getting more cats that die under the wheels of cars or from animal attacks, or they finally learn how to be a responsible pet owner, respectful neighbor, and learn to keep their invasive species animal under confined supervision, as it should be. Win win win all around. You can either destroy their cat for them humanely, or let their lack of concern for their cat cause it to die inhumanely. Your choice. By destroying their cat for them humanely you are showing them that you care more about their cat than even they do. A bullet is by far the most humane death that any free-roaming cat will ever meet. Their only other options are being hit by cars, environmental poisons, cat & animal attacks, diesease and parasites, freezing to death, baking to death, etc. etc.

    You can’t train a cat to stay home but I found that, in time, you CAN train a cat-owner into being a responsible pet-owner and a respectable neighbor. Most of them are so phenomenally stupid, disrespectful, and criminally irresponsible though that you have to make at least 12-15 of their cats permanently disappear before they even start to figure out what they’ve been doing wrong all during their sorry, useless, and pathetic lives.

    If you live in an area where its not legal to use firearms to destroy any animal that is harming the health, safety, and well-being of you, your family, your own animals, or property (as it *IS* legal in most every area of the nation); then check into laws regarding air-rifles. Ones with ballistics speeds of 700-1200 fps and using pointed vermin-pellets are often advised for use on vermin in no-firearms zones. Many of the newer ones even come with their own sound-suppressor designs built-in. Failing that, then there’s always the SSS and TDSS Cat Management Programs that are exploding in popularity worldwide. Shoot, Shovel, & Shut-Up; or Trap, Drown, Shovel, & Shut-Up. Both methods are legal on every square foot of this earth. No local laws were violated if it never happened! (In the cases where cats have already learned to evade all trapping methods, then inexpensive generic 1-adult-strength acetaminophen (overseas a.k.a. paracetamol) pain-relievers are a more species specific vermin poison. But you really need to collect and dispose of that carcass safely so that native wildlife won’t die from the many deadly diseases cats spread — even after their death.)

    Good luck!

  58. says

    All you have to do is put a bell on their collars. I don’t know what, if any, impact it has, but it seems to work great, but this is biased and anecdotal. We need data!

  59. says

    I can understand if you’re not looking to end up with new kittens all the time, but beyond that, why do it?

    that is sufficient reason. especially considering how many litters end up drowned/killed/abandoned/given to shelters and then killed. better to fix the cats and avoid that problem.

    We humans would (rightly) freak out if someone tried to spay and neuter us.

    are you fucking shitting me?

    let me know when we can start giving cats counseling at planned parenthood, m’kay?

  60. says

    Am I the only one noticing firstnamelastname’s posts, here?

    I understand the need to protect the natural environment as much as the next environmentalist, but shooting what could be somebody’s pet?

    Sorry.

    But no.

    Where in the hell do you live that it got to that?

  61. says

    I think most indoor cats are under-stimulated.
    [...]
    I’m sure keeping a cat indoors can be done right. I just don’t think it usually is.

    evidence please. FYI, “The consensus among veterinarians and organizations such as the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) is that it’s healthier to keep cats indoors.”

  62. bjarndoolaeghe says

    Out here people in government built apartments are not allowed to have cats inside the home as their mewling disturbs the neighbours.

    Yes really, where I live I am not allowed to have a cat by law.

    So what anyone who likes cats around such blocks does is, either break the law like the neighbours a few doors down who have a lovely ginger kitty that comes visit me sometimes, or of course feed the strays around the building.

    Luckily the government here has a huge catch/spay/release program so we don’t stumble over strays all the time. But they are still pretty much omnipresent. And the only ones to hunt down the rather large mouse populations around here as well.

    Note to Caine: In Belgium, where I am from, the law strongly disagrees with you. Letting dogs roam outside unleashed, not allowed. And if your dog causes damage to anything you are liable. But the law specifically exempts people from being liable for their cat’s actions.

  63. says

    @firstnamelastname:

    Have you considered just shooting the owners? Hell, just shoot them all before they get any cats. Nip that problem before it starts.
    If they send cops to your house, just shoot them, too. Neighborhood kids make too much noise? Shoot them.
    Overpopulation a problem? Shoot everybody. Global warming? Shoot everybody.
    I always knew the solutions to our problems were simple.

  64. says

    lilandra,

    The fact that most,normal domestic cats are affectionate into adulthood with their owners proves that that particular behavior has been artificially selected.

    Um, no. It proves that they’ve been selected in one way or another to be able to get along with humans. It does not prove that this selection was deliberate on the part of the humans. There are perfectly good natural advantages to getting along with humans for an animal that scavenges on the margins of human society and that does not have a conflict of interest with humans (as contrasted with food-stealing pest species like rats, large, dangerous species like tigers, or species that humans prey on, like deer). For example, there’s the fact that if you’re nice to humans they’ll be nice to you (or at least tolerant of you) right back. If you’re getting rid of pests and humans don’t perceive you as a threat, they won’t drive you away from your food sources and they might even give you a bit of extra food, let you raise your kittens in their nice warm safe barn, or even take care of you when you’re injured.

    So there’s no reason to assume that cats get along with humans solely because of some deliberate breeding program. Just as there’s a difference between farmers deliberately breeding crop plants for better yields and birds inadvertently selecting tastier berry plants by helping distribute the yummiest plants’ seeds in their feces, there’s a difference between the modern artificial selection imposed on purebred cats and the likely evolutionary trajectory of the species Felis (silvestris) catus.

  65. IndyM, pikčiurna says

    I live in NYC, so my four cats have to be indoor cats. (And if I lived in the country, they would still be indoor cats.) That said, they are vicious attackers of dustmice. Oh, the daily carnage…!

  66. TonyJ says

    We inherited our cat when we moved into our previous house. The woman who lived there before us had abandoned her. We took her with us when we moved to our new house, and she’s gradually become more affectionate than she used to be.

    She’s been an outdoor cat her entire life, and does not like it at all if we try to keep her inside. She comes in to eat and sleep.

  67. says

    TonyJ:

    She’s been an outdoor cat her entire life, and does not like it at all if we try to keep her inside.

    Oh FFS. Your fucking cat, your fucking responsibility. Build the cat a godsdamn kennel, then. I have two large kennels for my cat, because I’m a responsible pet owner. Try it sometime, the people who have to live around you might prefer you being responsible.

  68. says

    NateHevens, in regard to spaying and neutering, there are a number of issues.

    The biggest, most important thing to remember in all this is that when you accept responsibility for a non-human creature, or even a human child too young to express its own desires, you find yourself forced to make decisions for that creature based on your best understanding of what enhances its well-being, rather than based on consultation with it. Not only that, but the thing you end up deciding is best for your charge may well not be the thing that your charge would choose for itself should it be allowed to make the decision, because it is not in possession of all the facts about the matter that you have access to, and you have no way of communicating those facts to it.

    Every damn time I take my cats to the vet, they make it crystal fucking clear that they do not want to be stuffed into the carrier, forced to ride in the car, and dragged off to a strange place to be poked and prodded. They struggle against being put in the carrier, howl through the car ride, and go limp with fear when we arrive. Going to the vet is not a choice they would make for themselves if I left matters up to them, but despite the immediate misery the vet trip causes them (and me), I am completely convinced that overriding their wishes in this matter makes their lives far better overall and is therefore the right thing to do.

    Things like neutering/spaying are an uncomfortable tradeoff. If I had my druthers, I’d give my cats a safe sex/responsible reproduction talk just like I’ll give to my kids someday and then leave the decisions up to them. But I don’t have that option, so I have to look at the facts and decide for myself what’s best.

    The fact is, an unspayed female cat will go into heat 2-3 times a year, and if you’re not really careful about watching her, she will mate (possibly with your unneutered male cats) and she will get pregnant and all the admonishments in the world will not stop her. And then you have to decide whether you want to put her through abortion after abortion (or the misery of unfulfilled heat after unfulfilled heat), spend all your money and time caring for and/or adopting out infinite generations of cats in a world where there are already orders of magnitude more homeless cats than anyone has the resources to care for (because her kittens will also have their own kittens), throw the kittens into the river in a burlap sack like they used to do in the bad old days before spaying, or just abandon them to wander the streets like so many idiots still do today. No matter which of these non-spaying options you choose, your cat’s life is going to be more stressful from dealing with all of the associated bullshit than if you’d just gotten her snipped, and most of these options also involve contributing to the misery of other cats in the process. Spaying the females (and neutering your male cats to make sure they don’t father kittens on some other unfortunate female) is the humane option here.

    Unspayed females and unneutered males also have a greater tendency to wander looking for sex and thereby put themselves in greater danger from all the bad things that exist in the outdoors. They’re more aggressive and territorial with each other and so they get into more fights, which makes them more likely to get hurt, and are stressier about sharing their homes with other pets. Unneutered male cats are also more likely to mark their territory and tend to have stinkier urine, which increases the chance that insufficiently dedicated caretakers (or unfeeling landlords) will eject them from their homes.

    So all in all, there are a lot of clear advantages to the cat from spaying/neutering. And what’s the advantage to the cat from not having it done? Well, if it was a human, it might *want* to have sex and reproduce, might see the other people around it having sex and children and feel like something important and fundamental had been denied to it. But this is to some extent a culturally-mediated response. There’s no evidence that spayed/neutered cats reflect on their fate relative to other cats, such that they experience a similar sense of regret over not having kittens. Spayed/neutered pets seem, as far as we can tell, to live very happy and fulfilled lives, and to not even understand that they’re “missing” anything, much less feel unhappy about the fact. Unfortunately, we don’t have any way of finding anything out about their feelings beyond this seeming, so we’ve got to make the best decision for them in light of what we *can* observe. And all the evidence we can observe suggests that the best decision for their own personal well-being really is sterilization.

  69. spamamander, more skeptical-er and rational-er than you says

    My two cats are absolutely inside only, unless they are on a leash and harness. I may have almost an acre and a half, but there’s roads, dogs, and a nesting pair of VERY large hawks almost in my backyard, who swoop down to get mice and garter snakes from the grass. It frustrates me to no end to see how many ferals and outdoor cats there are in the area, many of them deciding to hang out under my house. I have bird feeders and I really don’t like the idea of them being a buffet bar for the local felines.

  70. says

    Er, sorry, I should clarify, the 2-3x/year number for female cats going into heat is if they actually get pregnant each time. Cats that *aren’t* permitted to mate will go into heat every 2-3 weeks. It’s really not a good way to live.

  71. says

    I have a herd of ratlets all lined up to go in and be spayed. If it was possible to put pets of all sorts on birth control, I’d probably go for it. If vets in the U.S. were invested in vasectomies and tubal ligations rather than neuter/spay, I’d definitely go that route instead. That not being the case, I’m a ferocious advocate for spaying/neutering your pet, no matter what it is. Out of control breeding doesn’t do any good whatsoever.

  72. firstnamelastname says

    The law in the USA is that it is perfectly legal to destroy any animal, someone’s pet or not, that is threatening the health, well-being, and safety of yourself, your family, your animals, or even your property. Also true even in most densely populated cities, firearms laws permitting, if not then 700-1200fps air-rifles are commonly used. The only animals exempt from you taking immediate action, legally, are those listed on endangered or threatened species lists, and any bird species under protection of MBTA (the Migratory Bird Treaty Act). Even then variances can be given should there be sufficient problem but this requires further study by authorities. Since cats are listed in the TOP 40 WORST invasive species of the world in the “Global Invasive Species Database” (www.issg.org/database/species/ecology.asp?si=24&fr=1&sts=sss), this means they have no protection whatsoever from being shot on sight, they are not on any protected species list anywhere in the world. Quite the opposite as a matter of fact. And if your area enforces and obeys invasive species laws — as they should — then it is against the law to NOT destroy any cat on sight, someone’s pet or not. It is your civic and moral responsibility to destroy any invasive species that is found away from supervised confinement and roaming freely in a non-native habitat.

    Shoot to maim is punishable under the laws that define animal-cruelty (these are the ONLY cases that cat-lovers cite to try to manipulate you and scare you from shooting their cats). But shoot to kill is a perfectly legal way to humanely destroy an animal. The same laws and principles that apply to methods of humanely hunting animals also applies to cats. Unlike cat-lovers’ psychotic beliefs, the reality is that a cat is just another animal. It’s NOT their baby, their child, their offspring. Even if they do view their cats that way, letting them roam free is no less criminally irresponsible than them telling their child to go play in the freeway and then blaming the cars for their child’s death. If they let their cat roam free, NO MATTER HOW IT DIES, that is THEIR fault and they can be charged with all laws that clearly define animal-neglect, animal-abandonment, and animal-endangerment. Not to mention being in direct violation of all international invasive species laws in existence.

    In fact, here’s a publication from a study done by the University of Nebraska on the best ways to HUMANELY deal with a feral-cat problem wherever you live. This documentation INCLUDES the best firearms, ammo, and air-rifles required to HUMANELY destroy cats. deenawinter.files.wordpress.com/2010/12/ec1781.pdf

    Besides, what difference does it make if the cat gets shot or ran over by a car, attacked by another cat or animal, drowned, or poisoned by plants animals or chemicals (inexpensive 1-adult-strength generic acetaminophen pain-relievers gaining in popularity, for being so species specific). The result is the same. The cause is the same — the fault of the criminally irresponsible pet-owner that let their invasive species pet roam free. They’ve already proved that their animal is 100% expendable. You can either destroy their cat for them humanely, or let their lack of care cause it to inevitably die inhumanely. They don’t care one bit how their cat might cruelly suffer to death if they let it roam free. Humanely destroy their cat for them before that can happen. A well aimed bullet is the MOST humane death that ANY stray or feral cat can ever look forward to. Any other death that they WILL eventually face is all inhumanely downhill from there.

    You might also enjoy knowing …

    If you advocate for cats as rodent-control on farms and ranches you’ve already doomed them to being destroyed by drowning or shooting when it becomes a financial liability more than any asset. Ranchers and farmers worldwide are fully aware that cats’ Toxoplasma gondii parasite can cause the very same birth defects (hydrocephaly and microcephaly), still-births, and miscarriages in their livestock and important wildlife as it can in pregnant women. Consequently, this is also how this cats’ brain-parasite gets into your meats and onto your dinner-tables, from herbivores ingesting this cat-parasites’ oocysts in the soils, transferred to the plants and grains that they eat. Not even washing your hands in bleach will destroy this parasites’ oocysts if you have contracted it from your garden or yard that a cat has defecated in.

    This is why any cats are ROUTINELY destroyed around gestating livestock and wildlife management areas in the most efficient, humane, and least expensive method available. Common rural practice everywhere. The risk of financial loss from dead livestock and important native wildlife from an invasive species cat is far too great to do otherwise. This cats’ parasite is now even killing off rare marine mammals along all coastal regions from run-off containing this cat-parasites’ oocysts.

    The next time you bite into that whole-grain veggie-muffin or McBurger, you need to just envision biting down on a shot-dead or drowned kitten or cat. For that’s precisely how that food supply got to your mouth — whether you want to face up to it or not. It’s not going to change reality no matter how much you twist your mind away from the truth of your world.

    If you want to blame someone for the drowning and shooting of cats, you need to prosecute yourself — every time you eat.

  73. shoeguy says

    My cat is a duplicitous evil bloodthirsty killing machine. If he were larger he would kill me and eat part of my tortured body. On the upside, he keeps the place free of rodents of all sorts. He did go a bit over the top with that nest of baby bunnies though. Nature. What are you gonna do?

  74. firstnamelastname says

    I actually quite like seeing when these fringe LUNATIC TNR supporters try to get my posts censored.

    Simple reason being: The very last bastion of the blind-followers of any wholly proved false and completely failed religion — censorship.

    Just like TNR is a now 100% disproved religion; a religion based on nothing but wishful thinking, self-centered and self-aggrandized feel-good imaginings, and psychotic conjecture. AND ZERO FACTS.

    Whenever these TNR lunatics try to get my posts deleted they have publicly admitted to the whole world that their TNR religion is 100% false and they’ve got no other way to defend their imaginary beliefs against truthful statements and hard-core facts based on reality.

    They have single-handedly denounced the whole concept of TNR in their simple wish for censorship. But then, like I’ve always said, cat-lovers are always dumber than their cats. Why do you think their cats can outsmart them so often to get away from them? Even their own cats are desperate to not be around them!

  75. says

    SG:

    Is this the sort of thing a monitor should email PZ about?

    If it continues, possibly. I think another monitor should make that decision, though, seeing as my current condition is, um, impaired.

  76. says

    I’m hardly a regular here, or even an interesting irregular, so I know I should probably just keep my mouth shut on issues of thread management, but firstnamelastname is being sufficiently disgusting that I’m going to toss diffidence to the winds and say that I’d like to see hir expelled from the thread. I don’t know if ze’s quite hit the “motormouth” threshold yet, but ze’s certainly tl;dring pretty heavily without contributing anything of value, and ze’s exceeded the three-comment charity threshold. And ze’s making eliminationist and threatening comments about the creatures quite a number of us here love. Seems to me like that last bit ought to be enough all by itself — someone making comments like this about another poster’s human family members would presumably be out of here pretty quickly.

  77. Amphiox says

    I vaguely recall a nature documentary that indicted the domestic cat as the greatest predator on planet earth (excepting humans). Highest kill ratio per individual, highest kill rate per individual, highest success rate per hunt, even highest total aggregate mass of kills.

  78. Amphiox says

    Cats need to be made to disappear from all non-native habitats — PERMANENTLY.

    The domestic cat’s native habitat is wherever people live. What you are advocating is nothing less than the extermination of all cats.

  79. inquisitiveraven says

    One of my cats, whom I had to put down recently, was a mighty huntress. She wasn’t allowed outside, but if a bird or mouse got inside, she was more than happy to kill it for us.

    My other cat, who escaped at the end of June/beginning of July (it was the middle of the night, so we’re a bit fuzzy on the exact date), OTOH, probably has no idea how to kill anything except cockroaches. I have no idea if she’s still alive. She is microchipped though, so I’m hoping that if anyone finds her, I’ll hear from them.

  80. says

    When I was a kid, my family had cats that went outside; most eventually failed to come back.

    So when I moved out and lived on my own, all my cats became indoor cats. Each came to me as strays from the street, and, for me anyway, the process was always the same: don’t let them out, listen to them complain about it, stop them from squeezing past, love them and feed them and keep the litter box clean, and eventually, they all stopped trying. They were happy inside, and my experience was that, after even more time, most were not at all happy when outside.

    I figure I went through this about ten times, before I got married to someone with allergies and had to give up on cats.

    Indoor cats live longer, healthier lives, by a huge margin:

    “http://pets.webmd.com/cats/features/should-you-have-an-indoor-cat-or-an-outdoor-cat

  81. ibbica says

    One of our cats does this:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=57qew_cglac

    But, you know, scaled down for his size; he “only” gets about 4′ straight up, not 10′ :P

    Oh, and of course he does it with toys inside. He doesn’t door-dash because we’ve trained him (gasp!) that he can’t go outside without his harness and leash. (The other cat in the house has never shown any interest in leaving the house, go figure.)

    If you can’t figure out how to (or that you should) keep a pet confined to your own property… you shouldn’t own that pet. Pretty straightforward, really [shrug]

    As for TNR… I do come down on the side of ‘nope’ except in very limited circumstances – i.e. properly contained colonies.

  82. nihap says

    Having cats that are outside as well as inside is not impossible, cruel or irresponsible, if you take into account how and where you live. I live in a fairly rural area, with no highways or such in the area. My cats have always been outside and none of them have ever had any major accidents or injuries because of it. The come inside most nights, get fed regularly and are very healthy. You have to make sure to vaccinate your cats, mark them (mine have been chipped), de-worm them and give them something to protect them against ticks and similar parasites (there are neat little dropper things that you put onto the skin of their necks that repels ticks and other bugs).

    I prefer to give my cats a more active and free life, rather then shut them up in a house for their entire lives. Granted, an indoor cat can have a perfectly good life, but if the circumstances are suitable, I prefer to let my cats live a fuller life. Research indicates cats that are outside may life a slightly shorter life overall, but that doesn’t worry me, really.

    As for the killing part, ya don’t say? Having been presented with all kinds of grisly trophies (or condescending training prey, depending on which animal psychologist you ask) by all my cats, I had no idea that my predatory feline was actually predatory.

  83. ibbica says

    @Caine

    If it was possible to put pets of all sorts on birth control, I’d probably go for it. If vets in the U.S. were invested in vasectomies and tubal ligations rather than neuter/spay, I’d definitely go that route instead.

    I’ll just put this here…

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michelson_Prize_and_Grants_in_Reproductive_Biology

    http://michelson.foundanimals.org/grant-winner-bios

    So some people are certainly working on alternatives :)

    As for vasectomies and tubal ligations… well, cats that have had either would likely be a huge PITA to have in a house. Males would still spray and smell like tomcats (ugh), females would still go into heat and need to be manually stimulated to go *out* of heat, neither of which the average housecat owner would likely welcome (an outdoor, mixed-sex colony might be a different story, of course). But AFAIK the only way to prevent the… “not so desirable” reproductive behaviours of cats is to remove their gonads. (Wait, why do we try to keep these creatures as ‘pets’ again? ;))

    I’m with you for most other species, though.

  84. blf says

    Wait…you mean mice and birds don’t actually defend themselves with anvils and dynamite?

    The mildly deranged penguin uses a trebuchet.

  85. marinerachel says

    There are fewer health and safety hazards indoors than out. Of course it’s healthier to keep cats inside. I wouldn’t argue that any sooner than I’d argue the negative impact they have on the ecosystems they’re introduced to. Healthy =/= stimulated though. What a cat can experience is far more limited when they’re confined to a small artificial environment than when they come and go as they please.

    I’d love to be presented with evidence cats are sufficiently stimulated when confined to small homes. I wouldn’t feel sorry for them any longer and I’d adopt a couple. As it stands, there is none. All I have to go by is my personal experience, which indicates most indoor cats are poorly stimulated when compared with cats who have the option of being indoors or out. It’s why I don’t have cats. The fact it’s healthier to keep cats confined to homes is irrelevant of my issue.

    When there is contradictory evidence, I’ll understand demanding evidence for an opinion like “I think most indoor cats are understimulated”. “Most indoor cats are sufficiently stimulated” isn’t evidentially supported either though. They’re just beliefs people have based on experience, not facts. That’s why I don’t demand owners of indoor cats provide evidence Fluffy is sufficiently stimulated.

  86. ibbica says

    marinerachel

    I’d love to be presented with evidence cats are sufficiently stimulated when confined to small homes. I wouldn’t feel sorry for them any longer and I’d adopt a couple. As it stands, there is none. All I have to go by is my personal experience, which indicates most indoor cats are poorly stimulated when compared with cats who have the option of being indoors or out.

    What sort of evidence would you like, exactly? That’s not snark, I would actually like to know what you’d look for! I don’t have the funding for a large-scale mobile fMRI experiment or anything, but I can certainly work to accumulate “anecdotal” information from our own cats and others. Not perfect or conclusive, of course, but a decent first step, and one that would be relatively easy to ‘crowd-source’.

    Disclosure of personal biases: I do think cats shouldn’t be kept exclusively indoors and alone (i.e. with no contact with other non-human animals) – that’s the main reason why we got two cats instead of just one. I’m also a big fan of secure outdoor enclosures.

  87. Lofty says

    Indoor cat stimulation: Put your cat’s dry food inside a stout cardboard box with a small hole for odour outlet, your cat will worry/shred/shake/poke the box until empty. Repeat daily for a happy cat. My two indoor cats do well as I work from home and razz them up a few times a day.

  88. bassmanpete says

    Cats Humans are even worse than an oil-spill of multi-continent-sized proportions. They destroy the complete food-chain in every ecosystem where cats humans are found today. From smallest of prey that is gutted and skinned alive for cats humans’ tortured play-toys (not even used for food, just for senseless play), up to the top predators that are starved to death from cats humans destroying their ONLY food sources. THEY DON’T DESTROY JUST BIRDS. THEY DESTROY EVERYTHING THAT MOVES — DIRECTLY OR INDIRECTLY. They will even destroy valuable native vegetation by destroying those animals that are required pollinators for those plants or those that act as seed dispersers for those plants (as many smaller rodent and bird species do) or those that act as pest-control for those plants. CATS HUMANS CAN AND WILL WIPE OUT WHOLE ECOSYSTEMS EVENTUALLY — ANIMAL AND PLANT.

    Cats Humans need to be made to disappear from all non-native habitats — PERMANENTLY. And the sooner the better!

    There, FIFY.

  89. thecalmone says

    Cats are an enormous environmental problem here in Australia. Here are a couple of links (there are many others, as a brief Google search will confirm):

    http://www.environment.gov.au/biodiversity/invasive/publications/cat-impacts.html

    http://www.feral.org.au/pestsmart/feral-cats/

    Friend of mine is a forest ranger taking care of a small National Park close to suburban Melbourne. He goes out at night with a rifle and shoots cats. Mostly feral (big vicious things, not like your domestic moggie) but the occasional domestic cat. He probably shoots peoples’ pets now and then. His justification is that native animals like the lyrebird are rare, endangered, irreplaceable and must be protected from nocturnal killing machines like feral cats and other vermin like foxes.

    A lot of otherwise normal and reasonable people in Australia hate cats due to the destruction they have caused.

  90. jo1storm says

    We have a cat in the village, in my grandpa’s house. We have found her in the city, with a litter of kittens, fiercely defending it from dogs and rats. The village and outdoors came like a heaven to her. The most petable cat you can imagine, comes when you call it, purrs on the drop of a hat.

    So, a few months later we were emptying our barn. Grinding corn and putting kernels into the sacks, making room for a new corn. After the barn was empty, there were a lot of mice moving about, not having anything to eat and nowhere to hide. Then the cat came.

    She would eat baby mice whole. With adults, she would break their spine, disabling their back legs, so they wouldn’t be able to run away, only limp on their front legs. When she ate all the babies, she would return to adults. So yeah.

    Cats are cuddly, but never forget that they are the most efficient pest killing machines that humans could successfully tame without bringing themselves in danger from death and mutilation. Sort of like pythons and mongooses.

  91. firstnamelastname says

    bassmanpete

    Here’s my standard issue prepared reply for bible-home-schooled people like you:

    Homo sapiens is NOT an invasive species ANYWHERE, you freakishly stupid moron. Since humans have the genetic code to give them the capability to travel/migrate to ANY part of the globe, this means they are native to any area they can travel to on their own. Just like birds that have this capability and can travel to different continents and islands. Those that have the flight-range required to do so are NATIVE to those areas that they are capable of traveling to ON THEIR OWN.

    (And for the love of all that’s good in the world, PLEASE don’t display your further ignorance and stupidity by trying to claim that Europeans, Native Americans, and Asians are different “species”. That’s usually your next huge omelet-on-the-face move that you astoundingly ignorant fools make.)

    Whereas, an animal genetically engineered through selective breeding, such as CATS, are NOT AN INDIGENOUS SPECIES ANYWHERE. They are no more natural to any native environment anywhere on earth than some genetically engineered insect that was invented in some lab, that once released out into nature will destroy all native wildlife, JUST AS CATS DO. Someone once kept a “pet” bee one time. He too selectively bred this pet. After he selectively bred it it was called an Africanized Bee. It accidentally escaped his supervised confinement, and look what happened. Luckily for us they’re’ not destroying the complete food-chain in every ecosystem where they are found today, are limited in their range, and they’re not spreading many deadly diseases to all humans and wildlife — you know, all those fun things that these domesticated-species cats do.

    If you phenomenally stupid cretins are going to use ecology, biology, speciation, and genetics in your arguments, the very LEAST that you could do is have a base comprehension of what you are talking about. Don’t you think?

    No. And that’s the problem with terminally ignorant morons like you, you CAN’T think.

    If ONLY there was a legal cure for “stupid”.

  92. firstnamelastname says

    To dispel some other lies of cat-advocates … cats are NOT good rodent control. Due to cats spreading their Toxoplasma gondii parasites to rodents (and all other animals and humans), any rodents infected with T. gondii are actually ATTRACTED to cat-urine. CATS ATTRACT RODENTS.

    http://scitizen.com/neuroscience/parasite-hijacks-the-mind-of-its-host_a-23-509.html

    If you want to attract diseased rodents to your home, keep cats.

    I have hawks, owls, gray-fox, falcons, raccoons, and other local NATIVE predators for rodent control. There is absolutely no need to use any highly destructive INVASIVE SPECIES animal for this. These native animals also do a MUCH better job and won’t be attracting more rodents to your home like cats will. These animals also don’t destroy every other living thing in sight like cats always do. Encourage the same native animals by you if you worry about rodents. Gray Foxes don’t even eat farmers’ poultry and will even climb trees (the only fox species to do so) to help keep squirrel populations in check. Learn to befriend all the highly beneficial NATIVE animals. There’s ZERO need for any cats, ANYwhere.

    The more you research, the more you find out how much of what cat-advocates spew is just easily revealed lies. If there’s one thing I learned in all of this, if a cat-lover is talking then they are lying. You could bet your life on this and win every time, 100% guaranteed.

  93. ibbica says

    firstnamelastname, I take exception to much of what you’ve said, and much of what you’ve said is flat-out wrong. But I’ve babbled enough, and this isn’t my blog, so I’ll try to keep this brief.

    So, say, brown rats getting to an island on a fallen log aren’t ‘invasive’, but they are if they arrive on a ship?

    What exactly *is* your definition of ‘invasive species’?

    You know that a species can be ‘invasive’ in one locale but not in another, right?

    You know that there *are* invasive species of birds, right?

    The Near Eastern wildcats from which current housecats are descended are indigenous – to the Middle East. If I’m understanding the situation correctly, some of them seem to have associated with humans on their own; it was only much later that “we” began to actively manipulate their breeding. Domestication as has occured with cats (and dogs, incidentally) relies on a species’ ‘genetic ability’ to associate with humans and to be domesticated.

    Not all cats are infected with T. gondii. Grey foxes aren’t indigenous to all areas, and can’t be kept at such high population densities as domestic cats. Most people who keep cats as housepets do not keep them for ‘rodent control’.

    I don’t actually want to argue about what’s “natural” or not, because I don’t think it’s a helpful debate to have. But your accusations of ignorance in others is laughable, and your baseless insults directed at broad swaths of people offensive.

  94. ibbica says

    jo1storm

    Cats are cuddly, but never forget that they are the most efficient pest killing machines that humans could successfully tame without bringing themselves in danger from death and mutilation.

    I was about to argue that ferrets easily have them beat, but that argument relies on considering ferrets “tame”… :P

    Still, I’d like to see anyone do this with a cat:
    http://www.thesuffolkpestcontrolcompany.co.uk/pest-help/working-ferrets

    (That there’s a pest control company that uses ferrets to hunt invasive rabbits.)

  95. ChasCPeterson says

    jeezus, I don’t have the patience to read 100 comments on this pet*-peeve subject–it’s sure to really piss me off-so I will respond only to nihap @#99:

    I prefer to give my cats a more active and free life, rather then shut them up in a house for their entire lives.

    Fuck you.
    Those ‘grisly trophies’ that make you chuckle are the local native wildlife, you asshole. But what’s most important to you is the fantasy that you give your li’l snookumses a “fuller life”.

    People like you who care more about the imagined experiences of an individual animal which they have happened to have anthropomorphized than they do about an ecosystem’s worth of smaller and more animally animals fucking PISS ME OFF. FUCK YOU.

  96. John Horstman says

    It turns out that cats are carnivores, real predators, that scurried about murdering little creatures. Are you surprised?

    Well, no, I’m not surprised: that’s what we bred them for. Domestic cats only exist because we needed something to kill pests that attacked our grain stores after we brilliantly domesticated plants. This is news to anyone?

  97. bassmanpete says

    Firstnamelastname, I’m not any of those things, I was just pointing out that humans are far more destructive than cats, or just about anything else for that matter. Whereas cats don’t realise the damage they are doing, humans have the capability of so realising but many don’t seem to care.

  98. maudsilver says

    So, in order that we humans can have a furry animal to stroke, some people keep them indoors in a totally artifical environment where we prevent them from following many of their instinctive behaviours. If we do that to large animals in zoos it is called cruelty and people do studies on the deleterious psychological effects on those animals. To me it’s very simple, cats are hunting carnivores which naturally have extensive territories, if you can’t cope with that, don’t keep a cat.

  99. ibbica says

    bassmanpete: for what it’s worth, I agree with you :) And of course, without humans, cats (probably*) wouldn’t be nearly so destructive.

    *If cats do ever evolve opposable** thumbs and sociality**, I expect we’re all doomed. ‘Course, I could be wrong: other great apes are all endangered, not invasive… huh.

    **Those are words, right? WTH, Firefox***!

    ***Oh, but “Firefox” is a word? Come ON.

  100. John Horstman says

    Also, I’m getting a big kick our of people worried for the “natural wildlife” that’s “native” to the “natural environment” of a planned, managed, concrete-gilded urban space. Hehe.

  101. ibbica says

    maudsilver, what evidence would you accept that a particular indoor cat is psychologically healthy? What evidence would you like to see that keeping cats indoors isn’t necessarily detrimental to their psychological welfare?

    Of course you shouldn’t own a pet if you can’t keep it confined to your own property AND attend to its biological and psychological needs. But I’m not sure why some people seem to think that it’s completely impossible to do both.

  102. nihap says

    Fuck you.
    Those ‘grisly trophies’ that make you chuckle are the local native wildlife, you asshole. But what’s most important to you is the fantasy that you give your li’l snookumses a “fuller life”.

    People like you who care more about the imagined experiences of an individual animal which they have happened to have anthropomorphized than they do about an ecosystem’s worth of smaller and more animally animals fucking PISS ME OFF. FUCK YOU.

    Oh my.

    Yes, the large scale impact of housecats on the local wildlife is one of the issues about this that I’m willing to grant is a problem, if that’s the point you were trying to make amidst all that charmingly inarticulate verbal abuse.

    I’d be willing to stop my practice of having outdoor cats if it is shown unequivocally that it is doing real harm to the ecosystem as a whole.

    But wild predators hunt and kill all those smaller and “more animally animals” (?) all the time, and I am under no illusions about keeping a predator as a pet, as so many others seem to be. Nature isn’t some cutesy Lion King fairy tale, it’s a cold, brutal race to stay alive, a race which most animals loses. I have empathy for most creatures out there, but it is tempered by a sense of realism. Cats eat dead creatures, and while domesticated outdoor cats usually doesn’t eat their kills, other creatures will still get a meal out of that kill. Oh, and commercial cat food is generally a product of a industrial-scaled slaughter process, which I’d bet can be less humane than the relatively quick kill of a hunting cat.

  103. donny5 says

    Hey P.Z. wait a second, cats evolved to become this way. Are you saying you have a problem with evolution?

    Cheers!

  104. Eric R says

    Estimates are that between 100 million and 1 billion individual birds are killed annually by collisions with windows in the United States alone

    It seems more birds fly beak first into buildings than are killed by cats, coincidentally the birds are not eaten by these building but just left at the scene of the crime. I think either birds are suicidal or buildings are carnivores…..

  105. osmosis says

    I wonder if “wildlife” includes bugs.
    Don’t worry people, those number are grossly inflated due to the fact that my cat kills enough for ten cats.

  106. jackiepaper says

    I’ve done critter fostering and lived with a menagerie most of my adult life. Our family’s lesson in just how pride like cats can be came when new dogs were introduced to and the cats would only “allow” the interloper in certain areas of the house. Occasionally, they’d even refuse to let the dogs near their own food. My daughter’s room was especially off limits and if a new dog tried to go near it, they were attacked. Guard cats? Yeah, they’re a thing that exists. Who knew? Any rough play on the part of the canines was heavily moderated and punished swiftly. The spookiest part of this behavior was how the cats seemed able to plan and work together. For example, they would come from different directions, one hiding and the other “driving” the offending pooch into ambush.

    Things escalated. Unsuspecting dogs were even attacked in their sleep. If one cat picked a fight, the other would join in and it could be difficult to dissuade them from their goal of utterly dominating the dogs. (Meaning, I had to toss them in the shower a couple times before they got the message that bloodying the dogs noses was not acceptable.) I’ve seen two 12lb cats reduce an 80lb dog into a quivering, pathetic heap. I once had to pull a claw out of a dog’s face with pliers. We have scars from putting ourselves between that particularly hated dog and his feline attacker. (From the cats. Not the dog.)

    We had the worst offender de-clawed years ago. (It didn’t help. He just bit any pooch that ticked him off.) He is now in his teens. His brother and partner in bloodshed passed away. Guess what? He stills rules the roost with his tiny powder puff paws. If I raise my voice to the dogs, he will come from behind me, puffed up and growling, like a tiny enforcer. As you might expect, we no longer introduce new dogs into the house. Lesson learned. Permanent canine residents, on the other hand, are treated to cuddles and occasional cat baths by the very same cat. Our guess is that he gave up trying to drive them away and has decided that they are part of his pride. Or maybe he’s just lulling them in to a false sense of security?

    As to predication; mice, crickets and anything small enough to fit in his mouth is dispatched of with what I can only describe as kittenish glee by the same cat who lets the kids rub his tummy and play with his ears, tail and toes. (Yep, that viscous animal loves children.) He’s been known to bring us mouse heads and show them off like trophies. Meanwhile, our pitty will catch live baby birds, only to lick them until we make her stop. If ever a burglar breaks into the house, I hope they know to ignore the pit bull and run like hell from the elderly cat.

    I’ve never seen anything quite like this kitty. He’s the only cat I ever bottle fed as a kitten. His mom was wild and he was the runt of his litter. I have no idea if those things contributed to guarding behavior or if he have had this personality regardless.

  107. TonyJ says

    Caine, Fleur du mal

    Oh FFS. Your fucking cat, your fucking responsibility. Build the cat a godsdamn kennel, then. I have two large kennels for my cat, because I’m a responsible pet owner. Try it sometime, the people who have to live around you might prefer you being responsible.

    Well thankfully none of my neighbors are as quick to anger as you obviously are. I’d wager none of them even thinks twice about cats wandering around the neighborhood.

  108. frog says

    I don’t understand people who let their cats out. If my cat went out and didn’t come home one day, I would completely lose my shit. Coyotes, cars, asshole humans, parasites, diseases, other cats and animals, hawks, construction sites, railroad tracks… Fucking hell, what do people imagine their cats are doing all day? Sitting quietly in the sun in the backyard?

    The life expectancy of an indoor-only cat is something like three times the expectancy of an indoor/outdoor cat (various Google hits put the numbers at 15 vs 5 years). I suppose if you adopt a cat that turns up on your doorstep, you might leave it outside; but if you bring one home from the pound, letting it out is just cruel and stupid.

    As to the hunting: again, what did people think cats do? A creature that’s pointy at five of its six ends probably has a use for all those sharp bits.

  109. asyouwere says

    OK, but I’m guessing octopodes kill more sea life than kitties loosed in the wild kill off avian life. And what about spiders? Spiders are a murderous bunch as well. Or are we just talking mammals? “…red in tooth and claw”.

  110. zmidponk says

    I don’t really get the surprise over this. Ever since I’ve learned even the most basic facts about cats, it’s been pretty obvious to me that they’re predatory hunters, merely ones that many humans find agreeable enough companions that they excuse that little fact, or sometimes actually find that fact useful. For example, why did many ships in the past have a ships cat? To keep vermin down. How did that happen? By the cat hunting and killing those vermin.

  111. says

    PZ:

    firstnamelastnamelastname is now on automod.

    I know you weren’t doing it just for me, but thank you.

    ——–

    NateHevens:

    Anne @ #81… thank you. that’s more than enough for me. I’ll be sure to spay and neuter any pet I get in the future.

    Glad to be of service, and I’m glad to hear that you’ll take the spay/neuter route. Your pets may not thank you directly, but they will thank you by giving you many more and happier years together. :)

  112. interrobang says

    I have an indoor cat and an indoor-outdoor cat, who wasn’t my choice, nor was I particularly happy to have him, but the neighbours (who genuinely are irresponsible, and were letting him run around without vaccinations, regular feedings, or neutering) were going to abandon him if I didn’t take him, and I couldn’t let that happen. I tried to keep him indoors with my other cat, but he’s large and very athletic, and had been mostly living outdoors for well over a year by that point, so he basically destroyed my house and beat up on my other cat to the point where he was making her neurotic.

    So now he goes out. I’m not happy about it, but that’s how it stands for now. I may reevaluate as he gets older and more sedentary (hasn’t happened yet). Funnily, I know for a fact (because they’ve told me so) that the neighbours genuinely love him to death. Fortunately, I live in a quiet residential neighbourhood.

    I know he does hunt. I’m certainly not in denial about that. He once brought me a live, perfectly unharmed bird, which flew away when I said, “If you want to come in the house, you’ll have to put the bird down first,” and he said “Mrah?” back. (I would much rather he went after the mice and squirrels — you know, vermin — than the local birds, unless he wanted to take up hunting Canada geese, which genuinely are overpopulated pests here.) I do try to make sure he’s well-fed and indoors as much as possible, but given the circumstances (ie. that he was raised by the cast of The Lord of the Flies), I feel I’m doing the best I can. My cat-fu isn’t good enough to make a sedentary housecat out of a near-feral.

  113. says

    NateHevens, I also wanted to mention that your first comment didn’t sound snarky to me, so no offense taken.

    Interrobang, I know you were just kidding around about the Canada geese, but I still want to mention that at least in the U.S. they’re protected as a migratory species under federal law, not to mention that they’re actually pretty dangerously strong, so no matter how annoying they may be it’s a bad idea to encourage your cat to go for them. ;-)

  114. davem says

    Nearly every bloody morning (around 2am!) I get to hear the results of the local cats hunting the wild life – alarm calls from the birds and the squirrels. If I had a gun and a night sight, I’d swear I’d use it on the little buggers.

  115. strange gods before me ॐ says

    nihap, Chas is right.

    People who keep outdoor cats are artificially supporting more predators than the ecosystem can sustain. Because the cats get to come to you for their baseline of food and health care, you’re giving them a tremendous advantage that they wouldn’t have in the wild. Moreover, they’re not products of natural selection; they’ve been artificially selected to be more destructive than they need to be.

    Keep your cats indoors.

  116. Brownian says

    The sixth end is the deadliest of all.

    That’s the end our cat loves to shove in our faces when we’re snuggling him. Head-butt, then spin and ASS!

    We do take him outside, but we’ve trained him to wear a harness when he’s out with us (he doesn’t go out alone or unharnessed). He can to wriggle out of it, but he only does that when he’s tired of us not realising that he wants to go back in, at which point he saunters to the back door and pointedly meows.

  117. jackiepaper says

    To clarify: Any small animal unfortunate enough to stumble into our home may be devoured, but I do not let any pet run wild. They are house pets only. I have friends who keep cats in the country and they do a very good job of keeping gardens and barns from being over run with vermin. Those cats also frequently meet with violent deaths, usually under the tires of passing cars. I’m not down with the idea of letting domestic animals run the road. Some are caught by coyotes. I do find it cruel. But, as my friends who do this have their pets fixed and vetted and tend to rescue cats that would otherwise be put down, I have a live and let live policy. I’m miffed at the songbirds I loose to neighbor’s cats as well as by the parasites and diseases they spread. I do not enjoy the nocturnal yowling or seeing feral kittens with herpes of the eyes. (That’s fun to explain to the kids!)I can excuse country folks for letting cats live outdoors, but I don’t get it when city folks do the same. I’ve seen how quickly a small rural garden and barn can be decimated by mice and rats. It reminds me that a cat’s predatory nature is a large part of why humans began living with cats in the first place. It is not the best quality of life to be a farm cat, but it is a life.

  118. trewesterre says

    @Interrobang #133: You could try getting a harness and a leash and take the cat out on walks if he won’t tolerate being inside all the time. Then he has some fun time outside away from the other cat and he won’t get the chance to be hit by a car or kill birds.

    I’ve been thinking of doing this for my cat. My other cat passed away recently and he’s been extra lonely and restless (he doesn’t have anyone to play with during the day). He used to get to wander outside, but hasn’t for a while and I don’t plan on letting him out on his own either unless it’s just to the balcony.

    If you still have a problem with your cats fighting try distracting them with loud noises or a nice squirt of water to separate them (don’t put your hands in there). Mine did that for a while when the second (now only) cat showed up, but then I determined that he’s afraid of bubbles so blowing some bubbles in the room usually made them stop fighting as the aggressor fled in terror. Eventually they stopped fighting and would just play.

  119. says

    My kitteh doesn’t want to go outside, so she doesn’t get to hunt. Once in a while she’ll notice a bug in the house, but she’s usually afraid of them. About the closest she’s come to killing something was the time she kept flipping a spider over on its back.

    My dog, on the other hand, has to be watched. Rabbits nest in our back yard sometimes when we’re not looking, and she’ll try to play with the babies. It seems that she doesn’t mean to hurt them, but she doesn’t realize how fragile they are.

  120. thalwen says

    @141 I have a leash-trained cat and it’s worked quite well for both of us. He gets to explore and I don’t have to worry about him getting hurt with the multitude of crappy drivers in the neighbourhood. I started it with him when he was a kitten so he got used to it pretty quickly but any cat I’m sure can get used to it once they make the connection of leash=walk. The main downside is that he’s constantly mewing at me to take him for a walk whenever he’s in the mood for one, and that can be at some rather odd hours.

  121. jo1storm says

    Frog said:
    I don’t understand people who let their cats out. If my cat went out and didn’t come home one day, I would completely lose my shit. Coyotes, cars, asshole humans, parasites, diseases, other cats and animals, hawks, construction sites, railroad tracks… Fucking hell, what do people imagine their cats are doing all day? Sitting quietly in the sun in the backyard?

    No coyotes, hawks, bears, construction sites, railroad tracks in my grandpa’s village or wider country. Not many asshole humans or cars either. Having said that, I agree wholeheartedly with this


    I have friends who keep cats in the country and they do a very good job of keeping gardens and barns from being over run with vermin. Those cats also frequently meet with violent deaths, usually under the tires of passing cars. I’m not down with the idea of letting domestic animals run the road. Some are caught by coyotes. I do find it cruel. But, as my friends who do this have their pets fixed and vetted and tend to rescue cats that would otherwise be put down, I have a live and let live policy. I’m miffed at the songbirds I loose to neighbor’s cats as well as by the parasites and diseases they spread. I do not enjoy the nocturnal yowling or seeing feral kittens with herpes of the eyes. (That’s fun to explain to the kids!)I can excuse country folks for letting cats live outdoors, but I don’t get it when city folks do the same. I’ve seen how quickly a small rural garden and barn can be decimated by mice and rats. It reminds me that a cat’s predatory nature is a large part of why humans began living with cats in the first place. It is not the best quality of life to be a farm cat, but it is a life.

    You either have a working cat (outdoor’s, country cat) or you have a pet. If it doesn’t serve other function, it’s a pet and should be taken care as a pet (indoors, what it does is your problem).

  122. says

    Brownian:

    That’s the end our cat loves to shove in our faces when we’re snuggling him.

    I’m sure I’ve said this before, but that’s their third eye. The eye they use to look deep into your soul.

    They also read with it, which is why they like to sit on newspapers.

  123. Brownian says

    I’m sure I’ve said this before, but that’s their third eye. The eye they use to look deep into your soul.

    They also read with it, which is why they like to sit on newspapers.

    Really? I can’t see shit through mine.

  124. Hairhead, whose head is entirely filled with Too Much Stuff says

    Wrong response, Brownian. It should be:

    “I can’t EVEN see shit through mine.”

  125. Fred Salvador - The Public Sucks; Fuck Hope says

    There’s only one logical response – CAT CULL!!!

    We’ll start with my girlfriend’s tortoise-shell bastard that hates me and bites me whenever I try to go near it.

    I’ll get the napalm!

  126. Brownian says

    Wrong response, Brownian. It should be:

    “I can’t EVEN see shit through mine.”

    A straight line with the original phrasing with a twisted meaning tends to make for a better “wait for it…there you go” punchline than twisting the phrasing, unless you’re twisting an immediately recognisable cliché, phrase, or saying.

  127. says

    I have five cats and I adore them. Because I adore them they live inside. One of them is descended from a long line of barn cats and doesn’t agree with the indoor-only policy. Well, sucks to be him. I wouldn’t let a toddler make those decisions, why would I let my cat make them? Sometimes he does get out but we manage to keep him in more often than not and we’re not going to stop trying.

    Nihap:

    I prefer to give my cats a more active and free life, rather then shut them up in a house for their entire lives.

    Aw, how nice. I can only conclude that for you, an “active and free life” includes the risk of chronic feline diseases like FIV and feline leukemia. I have watched several adopted cats live with, and subsequently die from, these diseases and it’s not something to shrug off. Living for years with a mouth turned to hamburger from ulcers, scabbed-over skin reactions, constant snuffles and congestion, sores around their eyes, abscesses from being bitten, all of course completely worth it as long as they’ve been “active and free” right?

    Caine:

    People soaking in entitlement don’t seem to understand that they do not have the right to inflict their animal on anyone (or anything) else.

    Exactly. Why the hell do I have to put up with my neighbors’ cats shitting in my yard? My cats aren’t allowed to shit in their yard. Believe me, outdoor cat owners, your pwecious snookums isn’t so special that we treasure finding its crap in our flowerbeds.

    frog:

    I don’t understand people who let their cats out. If my cat went out and didn’t come home one day, I would completely lose my shit.

    My neighbors have had AT LEAST THREE cats killed by cars on the road in front of our house. When they bring home a new cat, guess what they fucking do? They let it run loose. Dumbasses.

  128. Nightjar says

    All you have to do is put a bell on their collars. I don’t know what, if any, impact it has

    I don’t know either, but collars on outdoor cats really aren’t a good idea, bell or no bell. There is the risk that the cat will get trapped by it on a tree branch or a fence away from home/helping human ears.

    Better to keep them inside, or cat-proof part of your backyard or something like that.

  129. Brownian says

    There is the risk that the cat will get trapped by it on a tree branch or a fence away from home/helping human ears.

    True, though cat collars these days are meant to tear away if they get caught on something.

  130. Rev. BigDumbChimp says

    Hey! Rev. BigDumbChimp! Don’t be dissin’ ma huskies1

    Fer realz.

    I am a husky daddy. Had two, now one.

    He’s gotten better but for a while there, he was a terror to any poor animal that came into our fenced in yard.

    Craziest ever… Came home he was in back yard with a fucking vulture in his mouth.

  131. says

    127; TonyJ:

    I’d wager none of them even thinks twice about cats wandering around the neighborhood.

    And I’d wager that you really don’t care enough about what your neighbors think to go and find out. And good luck with that, anyway: cats wander pretty far from home.*

    I don’t have cats any more (spouse has allergies), but we love to watch wildlife in our yard: dozens of bird species, squirrels — grey, red, and ground–, chipmunks, toads, frogs…. When neighborhood and feral cats (it’s hard to tell the difference) have added our yard to their nightly rounds, the number and variety of wildlife goes down significantly. The cats are undoubtedly eating some of them, and scaring others away.

    We care very much about the cats coming onto our property, and I chase them away with loud shouts and thrown objects (usually my shoes).

    This is pretty simple, but folks who want to let their cats out don’t seem to get it: your cats are better off inside, and you don’t have the right to let them get onto other people’s property.

    *When I was young, and my family let our cats out, we had one that came home after being gone for weeks. He had broken one of his front legs, just below the elbow. It had healed crookedly. We took him to the vet, who told us (knowing we had no money to fix it anyway) that the cat was healed and fine as he was. But he now had a distinct set of footprints that we would sometimes see in the snow or mud up to a mile from home.

  132. Brownian says

    Came home he was in back yard with a fucking vulture in his mouth.

    Where was he holding the other vulture?

  133. says

    And oh yeah, I know that some of you insist that where you live there are no moving vehicles, dogs or antifreeze, and all the other free-ranging predators are 100% certified disease free and vegan, and all your neighbors love your cats like children … but has it occurred to you that even parked cars can be dangerous?

    One of my cats has three legs, because we helped rescue him after he went to sleep one cold winter night under/inside a parked car where it was warm. And when someone started their car, the fan belt mangled his leg. It was beyond saving. He is the sweetest cat in the world and I really, really wish I could punch whoever thought it was okay to let him roam loose to be mutilated.

    But, y’know, he had that happy free outdoor experience! Lucky him!

  134. dysomniak, darwinian socialist says

    Clearly, nonhuman animals cannot be allowed to roam free. Those that cannot be kept inside as pets must be exterminated, lest they hurt each other or annoy people. It’s for their own good.

  135. Outrage Zombie says

    My cats stay indoors unless I’m out there supervising them as if they were preschoolers on a field trip. Not just because they would slaughter our bird and rodent populations, mind you, but because we’ve got raccoons like no one’s business; in particular, I am thinking of the bob-tailed giant raccoon that lives in our neighborhood, is almost as big as a freaking beagle, is aggressive as hell, and has no problems screwing around with our garbage cans during the day. I drove down the street the other day and saw him having to squeeze to fit into the storm drain (this was the one that had had part of its front cracked off by a large truck), he is that damn big. I almost refused to believe it was a raccoon, this being the first time I’d got a good look at him, and his face being turned away, but I saw those front paws.

    My family used to have indoor-outdoor cats when I was a kid. A lot of them dragged themselves home covered in their own blood and gore, and died in misery. People who put their cats outside are a bunch of irresponsible morons

  136. DrVanNostrand says

    You guys have convinced me to try to train my cat to go for walks. He’s indoor, but I’ve thought about letting him roam a bit in the past since he desperately wants to go outside. I’ve started getting him used to his harness for a couple hours a day. It definitely annoys him a little, but he seems OK with it and doesn’t even really try to wiggle out. I’ll see how he feels about a leash tomorrow.

  137. khms says

    Interesting conversation.

    What immediately jumped out to me was “to kills a week”. By 30% of the cats. That’s a lot less than I expected.

    Anyway, by numbers and behavior, surely wild house cats are a much worse problem than kept ones, indoor or not. Which means that inhibiting future generations is the real necessity here. I’m all for doing that, which happily also makes them easier to keep as pets.

    Oh, and for that study not counting abandoned kills as cat kills, that surely means they counted those kills for some other cause – which means the numbers should balance out. The take-home for me was that the only population crashes on record were not attributable to cats.

    Now, if they could put a dent into the rabbit population over here, that would make people happy.

  138. carlie says

    I’d wager none of them even thinks twice about cats wandering around the neighborhood.

    I’d bet they’re all annoyed at the asshole who lets their cats roam around free. Your pets are your own business. I don’t want them in my yard, shitting and eating things, and I don’t want them sitting there potentially ready to scratch or bite my kid, and I don’t want them rubbing all over stuff and making my allergies worse.

    And I say this as a cat owner. Keep your damn pets inside where they belong, or don’t have them.

    Clearly, nonhuman animals cannot be allowed to roam free.

    Yes, because wildlife is just like an animal that you obtain for the express purpose of having a pet for yourself and then refuse to actually take responsibility for.

  139. Rev. BigDumbChimp says

    I’d bet they’re all annoyed at the asshole who lets their cats roam around free. Your pets are your own business. I don’t want them in my yard, shitting and eating things, and I don’t want them sitting there potentially ready to scratch or bite my kid, and I don’t want them rubbing all over stuff and making my allergies worse.

    We keep our dogs in a privacy fenced in back yard. Fence is 6+ foot tall all around. They have a dog door onto our back porch that allows them to let them selves in and out in the back yard as both me and Mrs. BDC work long days.

    There are two neighborhood cats that I know of that constantly roam free and both like to come lay in our driveway and occasionally up on our front porch, torturing my dogs who sit there at bark at it through the front windows. In the spring, fall and some winter days we leave the windows open (screens down). One of these days my husky is going to go through a screen to get that fucking cat.

    That cat’s owner is an asshole and is lucky the fucking cat hasn’t been accidentally run over as it is often under my car when I leave the house or my next door neighbor’s car. It’s also lucky it hasn’t strayed into my yard more than it has (I’ve seen it on the fence more than a few times).

    In fact it was in my driveway this morning when I was taking out the trash with one of my dogs. Luckily my Lab is well behaved and listens to me when I tell him to stay. I’ve never seen him get a cat but I know what my husky has done in the past to a cat that came in our yard.

    Did I want him to, hell no. That’s someone’s pet. But that someone’s pet was loose and came into a fenced in yard (different house) with two big ass dogs.

    My dogs don’t roam the neighborhood free killing any cat, bird or squirrel they can find, shitting in peoples yards and fucking with other peoples’ pets. Your cat shouldn’t either.

    My alligator on the other hand. I can never keep that motherfucker in the yard.

  140. Menyambal --- Sambal's Little Helper says

    Right. Let’s take African wildcats, selectively breed them as indoor pets for a few thousand years, then turn them loose in American suburbia. That has got to go well for all concerned. Can you say, “Invasive species”?

  141. strange gods before me ॐ says

    What immediately jumped out to me was “to kills a week”. By 30% of the cats. That’s a lot less than I expected.

    Your gut is not much of an argument.

    Anyway, by numbers and behavior, surely wild house cats are a much worse problem than kept ones, indoor or not.

    No, not surely: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3783408

    Was that your gut again?

    Oh, and for that study not counting abandoned kills as cat kills, that surely means they counted those kills for some other cause – which means the numbers should balance out.

    What?

    The take-home for me was that the only population crashes on record were not attributable to cats.

    Not true: http://rydberg.biology.colostate.edu/seminarPDFs/Crooks_February_20.pdf

    Now, if they could put a dent into the rabbit population over here, that would make people happy.

    http://scholar.google.com/scholar?q=rabbit+cat+hyperpredation

  142. ChasCPeterson says

    Thank you, sg, for bringing the data.
    I’d like to be that guy on this topic–I used to be–but I lose patience way too quickly anymore.

  143. says

    DrVanNostrand, I’ve found that it really helps with my cats if I use the harness initially for 10-minute, indoor, no-leash-attached sessions that consist entirely of me petting them and feeding them tiny treats over and over again. Pretty soon they greet that harness coming out as a signal that it’s party time.

  144. khms says

    What immediately jumped out to me was “to kills a week”. By 30% of the cats. That’s a lot less than I expected.

    Argh. “two”.

    Your gut is not much of an argument.

    What argument? I just pointed out that my expectations were higher, not lower – I was surprised sort of the opposite way from those people in the study.

    Anyway, by numbers and behavior, surely wild house cats are a much worse problem than kept ones, indoor or not.

    No, not surely: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3783408

    Was that your gut again?

    Not quite, that’s the impression I get from what I hear from the media, again and again and again.

    Anyway, from hat I can see at that URL, it looks like this study was specific to Wisconsin rural areas, which are quite likely to be different in almost every regard from German cities, so it seems entirely possible that this is a regional difference.

    Oh, and for that study not counting abandoned kills as cat kills, that surely means they counted those kills for some other cause – which means the numbers should balance out.

    What?

    If they mis-attributed kills, that does not change the total number of kills from all sources.

    The take-home for me was that the only population crashes on record were not attributable to cats.

    Not true: http://rydberg.biology.colostate.edu/seminarPDFs/Crooks_February_20.pdf

    Actually, I was talking about this one (from #14):
    http://www.rspb.org.uk/advice/gardening/unwantedvisitors/cats/birddeclines.aspx

    “Despite the large numbers of birds killed, there is no scientific evidence that predation by cats in gardens is having any impact on bird populations UK-wide.
    [...]
    Those bird species that have undergone the most serious population declines in the UK (such as skylarks, tree sparrows and corn buntings) rarely encounter cats, so cats cannot be causing their declines. Research shows that these declines are usually caused by habitat change or loss, particularly on farmland.”

    Seems to me yours is again about a rather different region of the world. Of course, the #14 one seems to be specific for birds, so I guess that might make a difference, too.

    Now, if they could put a dent into the rabbit population over here, that would make people happy.

    http://scholar.google.com/scholar?q=rabbit+cat+hyperpredation

    What point are you trying to make?

    My point was that we have far too many rabbits locally – they seem to like gardens, a lot (surprise, surprise) – so many, in fact, that they get shot. In the city. Just about completely unheard of over here.

    Most people see them as purely vermin. So they would certainly approve if cats (or anything else) managed to reduce the rabbit population. But it doesn’t seem to be happening.

    Your search, OTOH, suggests that more rabbits lead to more cats (which I don’t recall anybody disputing) which might cause other problems, but which in any case suggests again that, yes, too many rabbits bad. Even in areas of the world where they occur naturally.

    Now, given that you didn’t mention it, I assume that you agree with me with regard to neutering and so on. Which is the point that was most important to me.

    ——————————————

    Oh, look, here is another one of those:

    selectively breed them as indoor pets for a few thousand years

    I’m pretty certain that is not how we arrived a today’s standard house cat. Some Asian temple cat species, maybe a few hundred years.

    IIRC from Wikipedia, it’s been 8000 to 9000 years since their ancestors first got close with us, and in less than a dozen separate incidents, from genetic analyses. The non-domesticated species still looks pretty much exactly like many domesticated ones, from those pictures. Given that domesticated cats in Europe didn’t usually live like pets until very recently, there can’t have been all that much selective breeding for indoor pets.

  145. gravityisjustatheory says

    PZ Myers
    13 August 2012 at 5:36 am

    firstnamelastnamelastname is now on automod.

    But PZ, what firstnamelastnamelastname saysis true!

    Why, when I look out my window, I see nothing but a smouldering, post-apocalyptic wasteland, totally denuded of all live forms, save for the roaving bands of genetically-modified felines!

    Everything, from the smallest spider to the largest beast has been slaughtered by these monstrosities!

    The only mistake he makes is suggesting using an air-rifle to take them out. The ones round here have evolved armoured carapaces. I’m not sure I could penetrate their armour even with my 10-22 now. I’m sitting tight until I can can take delivery beefier hardware.

    Wait, what’s that sound…

    There’s something at the door…

    Oh, God, no! Opposable thumbs!

    We cannot get out. The end comes.

    They are comming.

  146. Rev. BigDumbChimp says

    By what measure?

    I heard it from Mr. McGregor.

    General Woundwort will have something to say about this.

  147. Brownian says

    You know, it just occurred to me that our (the GF™’s and my) decision to keep our cat indoors unless leashed and supervised was at least partially influenced by a previous discussion on this topic on Pharyngula.

  148. strange gods before me ॐ says

    Anyway, from what I can see at that URL, it looks like this study was specific to Wisconsin rural areas, which are quite likely to be different in almost every regard from German cities, so it seems entirely possible that this is a regional difference.

    No, this bit is not a regional difference:

    “The effects of predation by free-ranging domestic cats on prey populations may be particularly severe because cat numbers are kept artificially high by supplemental feeding and do not show normal numerical or functional responses to changes in prey density. Domestic cats capture prey despite being fed by people (Davis 1957, Polsky 1975, Adamec 1976) and continue to kill prey even when prey populations are low.”

    Because they’re subsidized predators, cats can reach densities >100 times those of native predators.

    More: «Where documented, domestic cat’s impact on wildlife populations appears enormous. Feral and rural, free ranging cats have greater access to wild animals and thus demand the greatest toll but even urban domestic pet cats take live prey when allowed outside. Unlike some predators, a cat’s desire to hunt is not suppressed by adequate supplemental food. Even when fed regularly by people, a cat’s motivation to hunt remains strong, so it continues hunting (Adamec, 1976 in: Coleman et al. 1997).

    Liberg (1984) notes that in times with easy access to natural prey, domestic house cats in southern Sweden seemed to prefer that to household food.

    Domestic cats differ from other wild predators in four ways

    1. People protect cats from disease, predation and competition, factors that would otherwise control numbers of wild predators (Coleman et al., 1997).

    2. Cats often have a dependable food supply and their numbers are therefore not influenced by changes in prey population (Coleman et al., 1997).

    3. Unlike many other predators, cats’ densities are either poorly limited or not limited at all by territoriality (Coleman et al., 1997).

    4. Unlike other mainly nocturnal predators the domestic cat is also active by day, mainly during the early morning and dusk (Miramovich 1991: in Gunther and Terkel 2002), this allows cat extra scavenging and hunting time relative to other predators. [...]

    According to Hawkins (1998) “cats at artificially high densities, sustained by supplemental feeding, reduce abundance of native rodent and bird populations, change the rodent species composition [...”.]»

    This study also finds that cats are damaging native rodent populations in continental urban areas.

    If they mis-attributed kills, that does not change the total number of kills from all sources.

    What makes you think they misattributed kills? And what does that have to do with your immediately following false claim, “the only population crashes on record were not attributable to cats”?

    Actually, I was talking about this one (from #14): http://www.rspb.org.uk/advice/gardening/unwantedvisitors/cats/birddeclines.aspx

    That’s rather far removed from the scientific literature, now isn’t it.

    Seems to me yours is again about a rather different region of the world.

    Christ you’re ignorant.

    What are you doing yapping about the UK when you were just a moment ago yapping about German cities? Why is it only you get to jabber about wherever you want, but when I show the same phenomenon occurring in multiple areas that’s irrelevant? Are you trying to think, or are you only trying to defend your preconceptions?

    If you are really this ignorant, that you think you can just dismiss whatever you don’t like because you don’t live there, then just tell me whereabouts you live. The UK? A German city? Timbuktu?

    What point are you trying to make?

    Keep your cats indoors.

    Now, given that you didn’t mention it, I assume that you agree with me with regard to neutering and so on. Which is the point that was most important to me.

    Where “neutering and so on”, for you, means letting housecats roam free outside because “surely wild house cats are a much worse problem than kept ones, indoor or not.”

    No, obviously I don’t agree with that, which is why I showed you that you’re wrong.