Cat Advocates Push Back Against Predatory Cat Study

Alley Cat Allies petitions to end "junk" science studies about cats, such as the recent Smithsonian report that cats are the main killer of birds and wildlife.

By Becky Robinson, Alley Cat Allies | Posted: February 7, 2013, 2 p.m., EST

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Maine Coon Cat with Outstretched Paw
Alley Cat Allies has created a petition to end funding for studies by The Smithsonian on issues that target cats as killers.
Q: I recently saw an article in The New York Times about cats and birds. I was outraged by the descriptions of cats as cute serial killers. What can I do to speak out about this kind of research and the way the media reports on it?

A: Alley Cat Allies has seen these media reports, too, based on “research” published in the online journal "Nature Communications."

We've heard from countless supporters on this issue, people just like you, who think the media is reporting on junk science and manufacturing a fake debate that outdoor cats are the No. 1 cause of bird species decline in this country.

You can do several things to help take a stand with cats.

First, learn why the research is so wrong.
To be clear, this “study” is not new. It is a literature review that looks at a variety of published papers and then speculates a conclusion that suits the researchers' anti-cat and anti-TNR agenda.  In the past, Alley Cat Allies has picked apart some of the flawed studies included in the review, and we will continue to do so on this research piece.

We have started to see some great responses from dedicated journalists who are questioning the veracity of the study and the methodology behind it. Like us, they don't see how using small, localized study samples extrapolated across the entire country can be useful realistically. One CNN reporter called out the bad science in the Smithsonian study that blames cats for wildlife depletion, pointing out the margin of error is “give or take a few billion.” And an NPR blogger said “there's an unsettling degree of uncertainty in the study's key numbers.”

Second, understand the true threats to wildlife.
Habitat destruction, pollution, and climate change are far and away the greatest threats to birds and wildlife. And bogus reports like these, sensationalized by the media, sidestep the serious and real threats to birds and end up scapegoating cats.

Third, help promote humane approaches for cats.
This study is being used to promote an antiquated, ineffective and inhumane system of trap and kill for outdoor cats. Catch and kill has been practiced for over a century. The evidence is in: catching and killing cats doesn't work.

Trap-Neuter-Return is the only humane and effective approach that has been proven to stabilize and reduce outdoor cat populations over time.

And last, but most important, have your voice heard.
It's time for the one of the funders of this study — the Smithsonian — to disavow this research, stop funding this junk science and turn their attention to the real threats to wildlife populations. Scapegoating cats might seem like the easy answer, but in reality, killing more cats will not save populations of birds or small mammals.

Click here for more information on Alley Cat Allies' petition for the Smithsonian to stop funding and promoting what the group calls "junk" science.
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Cat Advocates Push Back Against Predatory Cat Study

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Reader Comments

Amy    Irvine, CA

2/22/2013 11:44:23 AM

KUDOS to Cindy in Jacksonville, Fla., for her logical points!

Victoria    Concord, NC

2/21/2013 5:24:38 PM

I'm tired of CATS getting blamed!! I love my cats and if they didn't catch mice, rats, birds, etc. Just think of what our homes would be like?? Over flowing with mice!! It would be really, really bad!!
It's not just cats that catch birds.
Here are some other animals that kill:
Dogs
Other BIG birds
Snakes
and wolves.
They are not the only ones that should be blamed!
And why would you blame a cat on a cat network. It's kind of insalting to cats.
Cat Channel is a network that make ctas feel good....this doesn't.

Cindy    Jacksonville, FL

2/21/2013 1:14:04 AM

It's hard to face the truth, but denial isn't going to solve anything. Cats are an exotic species that are not part of the natural ecosystem destroying millions of innocent wildlife every year due to human denial. It's time for cat owners to take responsibility and look honestly at the truth of what cats do instead of blaming the messenger.

Ellen    Alexandria, VA

2/17/2013 12:49:29 PM

This is definitely a study designed to make cats scapegoats. As an example, I sent Mr. Fenwick an e mail message explaining other animals kill birds too. Twice we have caught our dogs in the backyard killing birds Mr. Fenwick's very nasty reply included stating that "dogs do not kill birds." Really? We certainly don't want to confuse Mr. Fenwick with other possiblities to research. That would take too much effort and the Smithsonian might just end up eating crow!

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