By Denver Kanowski
The CSIRO has recently released studies and a book on the impact of cats in Australia. One study connects cats, human health issues and livestock production; another examines the effects of pet cats on wildlife. A range of other CSIRO cat-related studies are available. The book, Companion and Killer, focuses on the environmental impact and management of our furry friends.
It would appear that our little moggie friends are in fact dangerous and costly to humans as well as to other wildlife.
The facts are interesting, and sometimes startling.
- In Tasmania, 34% of households are host to a cat. 67% of these households support some form of containment of cats.
- It is estimated that there is a feral cat for every square kilometre of Australia.
- In Tasmania it is legal to trap, seize and humanely kill feral cats if your property is more than 1 kilometre from the nearest residence.
- 96% of feral cats carry toxoplasmosis, a parasite found in cat faeces which can cause abortion in people and sheep and is estimated to cost $6 billion annually in medical expenses, including 550 deaths & 8500 hospitalisations. It’s connected with 1 in 5 cases of schizophrenia and with 1 in 10 deaths due to suicide.
- Cats can transmit a range of other diseases and parasites to humans.
- Cats are estimated to be currently killing around 1 million birds a week in Australia as well as many other animals such as lizards and frogs.
In Victoria, for at least 20 years, there have been laws expecting cats to be contained within closed premises – a sensible compromise.
In far too many cases, however, cats seem to have the power of hypnosis, whereby their killing and mutilation of other sentient creatures is immediately forgiven and sanctioned by their owners. All ethical standards seem to go out the window in their presence.
Disclaimer: views represented in SOFiA blog posts are entirely the view of the respective authors and in no way represent an official SOFiA position. They are intended to stimulate thought, rather than present a final word on any topic.
Photo by Pacto Visual on Unsplash
There’s a scene in 10 million Wild cats (use your favourite search engine if you’d like to know more) where after running it down and killing it a wild cat is cooked and eaten. Could this be a novel means of controlling numbers. I don’t think I could participate.I wonder why not.
And yet cats can be wonderful companions, bringing joy and even improved mental health to people. Ours, however, are indoor cats – no chance to wreak the environmental havoc accurately described here by Denver.
Dogs, too, have a considerable environmental impact:
This last study, indeed, suggests: “The data is indicative of domestic dogs having a more deleterious effect than domestic cats on native wildlife in Tasmania; particularly in urban and suburban areas and on beaches.”
I like dogs, but I’ll weigh in here on the side of cats, if they are kept indoors and healthy. Their environmental paw print is smaller than that of dogs and they can indeed be wonderful companions. My friends in Puerto Rico who are almost totally locked down have a lovely playful half grown kitten who has brought such joy into what would otherwise be a pretty grey and depressing situation. As for me, I miss my old moggy dearly but haven’t yet taken steps to replace him.