The Humane Society Veterinary Medical Association issued the following statement from its senior veterinary medical advisor, Barry Kellogg, VMD, in response to a study on cat predation by the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service that was recently published in the online journal Nature Communications:
The issue of free-roaming cats preying on birds and other wildlife has once again had a spotlight cast on it thanks to the media attention this study has received, and the HSVMA supports efforts to address it in a meaningful way.
Further data collection and analysis is needed, but the bigger issues that can and should be addressed are expanding the application of the currently available humane and practical measures to mitigate the impact of free roaming cats and the development of new science-based solutions to address this problem.
As advocates for both cats and wildlife (and all animals), the HSVMA was proud to be a sponsor of a December 2012 conference in Los Angeles –‘The Outdoor Cat: Science and Policy from a Global Perspective’– held to identify existing research and science concerning outdoor cats and explore the elements of practical solutions to reduce their impact on wildlife and ecosystems, including Trap, Neuter and Return (TNR).
While HSVMA supports community-based TNR programs with ongoing responsible and defined management as the most viable, long-term approach available at this time to reduce feral cat populations, it is clear that effective solutions to the problems of free-roaming cat overpopulation and wildlife predation will have to include newer and more innovative approaches. Additional research, development of new contraceptive tools, optimization of existing management options, and expanding public education campaigns, especially in relation to encouraging responsible pet ownership that includes spaying and neutering of cats and keeping them indoors, must all be addressed in an effort to prevent further escalation of this issue.
The question of how to protect both cats and wildlife, while a divisive one that can’t be solved overnight, provides the veterinary community an opportunity to bring together diverse interests and acceptable options with the common goal of reducing the population of free roaming cats. HSVMA will continue to promote efforts such as last year’s conference to build an atmosphere of trust and respect among all parties committed to protecting cats and wildlife.