Cats: Threat or Menace?
July 21, 2020 at 5:46 pm #32420
They are America’s (and I believe the UK’s) #1 pet. They star in more Youtube videos than dogs or any other animal (not counting the human animal). Despite some degree of domestication, they have lost none of their superb hunting abilities, and are typically somewhere in lists of the world’s most efficient predators. They sleep with us; provide companionship to children, the lonely, and the elderly; and while they don’t have it to the same degree as dogs, they sometimes even exhibit a surprising instinct to protect family members, especially children, from dogs and other threats.
Bears are terrified of them.
Outdoor cats, as a top predator in their size range, are hell on anything of a certain size that walks or flies. A skilled cat living on its own needs about three or four small kills a day (mice, birds) to subsist. So, a successful feral cat might be killing over 20 birds, snakes, lizards, mice, rats or even rabbits a week. A thousand a year.
And thinking of rabbits and how prolific they are, cats are up there with as many as four litters of three to eight kittens a year with, probably, a much higher survival rate than rabbits since cat moms are very good at their job. And there’s no such thing as menopause for cats. Rabbits have a reproductive stage that lasts only about four years, but cats are fertile from around six months till they die, and cats can live up to 20 years or longer, though 16 or so is more common, a few years less for ferals.
Are cats potentially driving some native creatures to extinction? The answer has to be yes, but we are probably doing as much or more damage ourselves—and more quickly—through the conversion of wild habitats into housing developments, suburban office complexes, and all the rest of our urban spread. And let’s not forget farms. If you’ve ever driven through the midwest during summer, you’ll feel like you don’t live on the so-called water planet but rather on the corn planet. In Illinois, Iowa, and other Midwest states, wild land hardly exists at all.
A lot of species we accept and think of as “native” were not always here. It all depends upon how long ago it was that a species arrived on the scene and whether they actually evolved here. A lot of “native” animals didn’t evolve here but got here somehow. One of them killed off the mamoth, mastodon, giant ground sloth, and saber-toothed cat, among many others. And one example of that non-native species who wandered here from elsewhere is writing this essay.
Why are so many of us googoo over our cats? Could it be a disease? Don’t laugh.
July 21, 2020 at 6:20 pm #32423
- This topic was modified 2 weeks, 5 days ago by Unseen.
Look how fast this cat is… fox decides it is not worth it..July 21, 2020 at 6:32 pm #32424
Look how fast this cat is… fox decides it is not worth it.
You don’t realize how quick cats are until you suddenly realize you’ve sustained a deep scratch or even a bite and the cat is already gone. LOL Those paw strikes are lightning quick. They use them to kill snakes, even very poisonous snakes. They kill snakes about as efficiently as a mongoose can.
July 21, 2020 at 6:38 pm #32426
- This reply was modified 2 weeks, 5 days ago by Unseen.
Cats have brass balls. It’s almost impossible to find a cat showing any degree of cowardice. After all, we say “like a dog” about cowards, not “like a cat.” Sure, they’ll retreat from a big dog, but there are videos of cats attacking fairly large dogs. Out of nowhere. For no obvious reason. But if a kitten is in peril, watch out!
July 21, 2020 at 7:22 pm #32428
- This reply was modified 2 weeks, 5 days ago by Unseen.
DavisParticipantJuly 21, 2020 at 8:56 pm #32429
A domestic cat is a lot less motivated to kill. It’s the ferals who account for the bulk of killing. It’s a myth that cats kill for fun. By playing with a prey item, the cat wears it out reducing the risk of injury to itself. I don’t think cats do anything for fun in the human sense of fun. Even when you play with them at home with one of those flying feather things, it’s rehearsal for the hunt. They respond instinctively to a situation like a cat toy.
But cats kill too much, which they can’t do if we keep them indoors. We also need to neuter them early on so they don’t become little feline killer breeding machines.
At the same time, I like cats the way they are. To domesticate them to the degree we have domesticated dogs will ruin them, just as we have mostly ruined dogs by comparison with their wild version, the wolf, which is a better, healthier animal in every way.
As for whether our cats are plotting to kill us. There’s no two ways about it. If we were as small to cats to the degree we are larger, we’d be toast.
Of more concern is the needless cruelty inflicted on cats. Some people, it seems, spend a lot of time dreaming of ways to kill cats as inhumanely as possible, including turning large dogs on them.
Speaking of dogs and killing for fun, if you have a rat problem, you don’t want a cat, you want a dog, especially a terrier. They actually DO kill for the joy of it.July 25, 2020 at 1:57 am #32491
Cat defending baby from questionable behavior of sitter.August 2, 2020 at 10:08 am #32670
Reg the Fronkey FarmerModerator
Don’t blame cats for destroying wildlife – shaky logic is leading to moral panic!!August 2, 2020 at 5:59 pm #32676
Evolution is about successful adaptation to an environment. Cats are wonderful at adaptation, surviving quite well under oppressive desert heat and subarctic tundra conditions. Yes, their spread around the world has been quickened by mankind taking them as pets everywhere except Antarctica, where pets are forbidden by international agreement.
Cats (the particular species we know as house cats and their wild counterparts) are born survivors. Their hunting skills and tools place them among the most successful predators on the planet. With both short-haired and long-haired individuals, they find it easy to worm their way into almost any environment. Not only are they prodigious breeders, but cat moms are superior parents to their young.
Let’s face it: Spreading over the planet is their evolutionary destiny.
Let’s also not forget that they are prey items almost wherever they go as well (perhaps not on the occasional island). Hawks, owls, pumas, coyotes and wolves, foxes (though they prey mostly on kittens), and larger domestic dogs are all capable of killing a cat.
Worrying about the spread of Felis catus is pretty much pointless. It’d happen anyway even without our help.
Plus, who kills off more wildlife, cats or people? About six years ago I moved back to Portland, Oregon from Cleveland, and let me tell you this: It’s absolutely astonishing how much American land has been converted from wilderness to fields of corn…and soybeans, and wheat, etc., etc., but mostly it would seem, corn.
Some species will end up losing the evolution game, and the chief cause will be man, who will never be killed off by any predator, not cats. Were man not here, cats would be just another predator and would assume an undominant niche in nature.
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