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January 30, 2013

The Humane Society of the United States Responds to Free-Roaming Cat Study

Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of The Humane Society of the United States, issued the following statement in response to the study published in Nature Communications by scientists from the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on cat predation:

“The HSUS values both cats and wildlife. There is a legitimate issue with free-roaming cats preying on birds and other wildlife, and we are working to change that in a meaningful way. Despite the scientific rigor with which this report was prepared, like others recently published, it tries to attach a number to something that is almost impossible to credibly quantify. While further data collection and analysis is important, the larger issue here is finding practicable and humane actions to mitigate the impact of cats in our communities. Cats are an important part of our lives, and whether owned or free-roaming, are loved and cared for by millions of Americans who celebrate the human-animal bond. The best way we as a society can reduce impacts on wildlife from cats is to spay and neuter our pets and keep them indoors.

“For free-roaming and feral cats, there are thousands of organizations and individuals who manage cat colonies through trap-neuter-return (TNR) programs in the United States and Canada, and they constitute a large and indispensable volunteer labor force working to reduce the numbers of cats outdoors. By using TNR responsibly and finding homes for kittens and adoptable cats, this strategy can help reduce reproduction while improving the lives of existing ferals. The outdated strategy of trapping and killing feral cats is generally ineffective, since it doesn’t address the sources of the problem. Moreover, if that were the only alternative, we’d lose overnight the enormous investments in cat management made by TNR practitioners and cat lovers, since they would never participate in a round-up and kill approach.

“The presence of free-roaming, abandoned and outdoor cat populations in and around human communities and in other settings has proven divisive within the humane, conservation and scientific communities. As advocates for both cats and wildlife, with large program departments on wildlife and companion animals and a history of examining this issue, we believe that we can find solutions to these problems through engagement and innovation. That’s why The Humane Society of the United States convened a conference in Los Angeles last month—‘The Outdoor Cat: Science and Policy from a Global Perspective’—designed to take the measure of contemporary research and science concerning outdoor cats, and to advance the integration of such evidence into better policy that protects cats, birds and other wildlife."

“While this issue will not be solved overnight, progress is being made across the country, with bright spots being seen in many areas. This issue holds great promise for a new frontier in protecting both cats and wildlife that can bring together diverse interests, identify common goals and acceptable options and begin to build a community of trust and respect across the traditional lines of conflict. Pet owners should remember that spaying and neutering cats and keeping them indoors not only saves cats’ lives but also protects wildlife.”

Media Contact: Raul Arce-Contreras: 301-721-6440; rcontreras@humanesociety.org

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