Do birders dislike feral cats

Yes. I’m sorry to say it, but I really disapprove of outdoor and feral kitten. They kill far too many songbirds and other valuable species of animals. I know mankind could not have survived without kitten, but that was then and this is now. indoor cats can take care of indoor rodents, and there’s no need for them to be outside.* My cat has been inside since just after she was weaned, and is now afraid to go outside, and that suits me fine. She rules the roost in here. She is queen of all she surveys, and wants for nowt. That being said, I could never bring myself to hurt a cat, feral or outdoor. If it was suffering, I would dispatch it quickly and mercifully. But that’s all I would do. I’d probably end up feeding ferals, and have done so, when they’re around. As a matter of fact, my present cat’s mother was pretty feral, and eluded me easily on my clumsy attempts to nab her. But I fed her for about 2 weeks, and then a skunk moved in and started eating the cat food, so I quit.

  • I make an exception for barn cats. They tend to stick around places they can pick off rodents, and that’s good. And they usually get fed, and they have a warm place to sleep, too.

Thank you, Mary Jeffery, for your question: Do birders dislike feral cats?

Yes, birders strongly oppose cats. They blame cats for decimating the population of wildlife, especially of the birds which are near and dear to their hearts.


On 2 SE 2016 Kerry Lauerman wrote in the Washington Post “A national debate has simmered since a 2013 study by the Smithsonian’s Migratory Bird Center and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service concluded that cats kill up to 3.7 billion birds and 20.7 billion small mammals annually in the United States. The study blamed feral “unowned” cats but noted that their domestic peers “still cause substantial wildlife mortality … Since then, cities and towns across the country have considered alley-cat crackdowns … Meanwhile, nearly every animal welfare agency, along with the major veterinary association, urges pet owners to keep cats indoors not only to curb their murderous behavior but also for their own safety.” (emphasis is mine)

Cat killing songbird (Medium Images)

The Conversation notes the intensity and faulty logic in the opposition to cats “A number of conservationists claim cats are a zombie apocalypse for biodiversity that need to be removed from the outdoors by “any means necessary” – coded language for shooting, trapping and poisoning. Various media outlets have portrayed cats as murderous superpredators. Australia has even declared an official “war” against cats.

Moral panics emerge when people perceive an existential threat to themselves, society or the environment. When in the grip of a moral panic, the ability to think clearly and act responsibly is compromised. While the moral panic over cats arises from valid concerns over threats to native species, it obscures the real driver: humanity’s exploitative treatment of the natural world. Crucially, errors of scientific reasoning also underwrite this false crisis.”

Interestingly, though, the Washington Post carried an entirely different viewpoint in 2014. In an article by Susan Milius and Science News published on 3 February 2014 entitled “Stop Blaming Cats …” noted that “birds crashing into windows cause a huge number of bird deaths every year, 988,000,000 indeed. The article noted ‘The estimate puts windows behind only cats as the largest source of human-related menaces that kill birds directly.

The biggest share of the collision deaths comes not from glass massacres at skyscrapers but from occasional collisions with the nation’s many small buildings, says Scott Loss of Oklahoma State University in Stillwater. ‘It’s death by a million nicks … “There’s no nationwide reporting of birds’ thumping into glass or succumbing to a paw, so estimating death tolls has long been difficult and controversial. The new estimate of mortality from windows, based on statistical analysis of 23 local studies, comes close to an old estimate (100 million to 1 billion) that had been derided for its simple, back-of-the-envelope approach. ‘We were a little surprised,’ Loss says … There are plenty of uncertainties in extrapolating from small, diverse, local studies, particularly in trying to estimate overall species vulnerabilities, says Wayne Thogmartin of the U.S. Geological Survey in LaCrosse, Wis. But even such imperfect science has value, he says. For one thing, it may inspire people to start filling in gaps in data.”

Birds smashing into buildings (EarthSky Images)

So, yes, birders dislike feral cats and have good reason to do so, but cats have been with the ecosystem for a long time and, with the exception of places like Hawai’i and Australia where cats were introduced by European settlers, cats have been killing birds for as long as there have been cats and birds. Most of the bird deaths blamed on cats are the result of feral cats, though household cats that are allowed to go outside play a significantly lesser role.

It can certainly be argued that even one bird death that could have been prevented is one bird death too many, but given the above evidence it is unfair to blame bird deaths solely on cats. Man made structures, environmental toxins used in agriculture, wind turbines, cars, high tension hydro lines, commercial forestry, agricultural mowing of fields, oil spills, communication towers hunters and storms also are responsible for sizeable numbers of bird deaths according to C.B.C. News and the Sibley bird guides. and Causes of Bird Mortality – Sibley Guides

Flock of birds flying into wind turbine (

Indeed blaming cats can sometimes have unexpected consequences to efforts to control the number of feral cats and reduce cat overpopulation. The Humane Society of Kawartha Lakes is working towards the establishment of a local trap, neuter, and release managed program. We were saddened to learn that groups of birders combined to kill a similarly oriented project in Port Perry, Ontario. By killing the cat control project the birders there basically allowed further deprivation to continue. and Port Perry is not alone in opposing TNR. The issue has become incredibly emotional rather than logical and cats are caught in the centre of it all.

Normally I write Quora articles about cats and prefer to write about cats. Feel free to click on my profile to see them and hopefully read some. Hopefully you will find articles that are helpful and enjoyable.

Thank you for taking the time to read this.

I try to answer questions I think I can effectively answer but may pass if I don’t know the answer, or if I have previously answered a very similar question, or someone else may have answered the question as well or better than I could, or the answer can be found easily by googling the topic. I hope you understand and are not offended if I don’t post an answer to your question(s).

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Cats DECIMATE wild and feeder populations. It’s horrible and a WORLDWIDE problem bordering on extinction. For the sake of the cats, their people, the neighbors, and the birds, cats should be fixed and kept indoors. PERIOD. I doubt they hate the cats but the destruction resulting from irresponsible behavior is ghastly. There are FAR too many feral cats and cats allowed to roam and mate.

Yes. And feral cats are bad for all wildlife. They are a scourge in Australia.

“Do birders dislike feral cats?”

I am a birder and I have written many answers here on Quora where I have talked about how feral cats are a non-native invasive species that is responsible for killing more wild birds than any other cause. The second largest killer of wild birds is domestic house cats that are left to roam freely outside. I tell people to keep their house cats in the house, and not to encourage feral cats.

But, I have absolutely nothing against the cats. The cats are just being cats! What should we expect them to do? I do have a problem with owners who let their cats run loose outside. This is not good for wildlife in the area and not good for the cat.

I also try to point out to those who feel the need to put out food for feral cats, that that is also not a good idea. I know it can be heartbreaking to look at feral kittens and not help them, but helping to increase the feral population is only exacerbating an already bad and growing problem.

No, I think that most of us understand that it is the nature of the beast to hunt birds. I love all animals and understand their behavior.

ALL bird lovers hate feral cats! Why wouldn’t they? I had a cat years ago who took down a screech owl, and he was a pet. I keep all my cats inside now—not because of the damage they do to bird populations (though that’s a benefit), but primarily because of all the dangers out there.

It’s not so much which aggregate of ppl but rather the individuals.

If some dislike feral cats, it’s probably they think the cats are dangerous to the birds.

In fact, I think more birds die of reasons other than being caught by feral cats. Ive seen birds die of bad weather, broken wings etc.

Feral cats didnt choose their lifestyles. They probably want to have steady meals every day, warm place to sleep, someone to love them too. No reason to dislike them at all.

Usually. Because ferals have to survive and need a way to feed themselves. If they have kittens, they need to produce milk and nuture them which they can’t do without adequate food intake. Without human help, ferals can’t close their eyes to a food source. If there are many, they can make serious inroads into the bird population.

Absolutely positively.. When I was young my family hade quite a large aviary with 30 or more finches that lived in it. I was only a young boy so I was asleep but my dad heard something outside and saw a Tom cat that a neighbour owned halfway up the front of the bird cage behaving very aggressively while the poor birds went crazy in the dark trying to fly away. I don’t know exactly how they died, but when my father had chased the cat away, the damage had been done. Every single one died that night and the aviary was littered with their tiny silent bodies. My sisters and I were devastated as we had watched them grow and multiply rapidly over the years. I still can’t shake the hatred I felt nearly 40 years later. Also in my late teens I worked at a chicken farm and a semi domesticated cat used to raid the sheds and kill hundreds of day old chickens in a single night. We tried to keep the cat out of the sheds but it often managed to get in. I had to kill so many baby chickens that were too injured to recover. Legs and wings ripped off and left alive. It still makes me cringe when I think of what those poor baby birds had suffered. After we realised that we could not keep the cat out I shot it in the head. An instant death, even though it had never killed the chickens that way. I am an animal lover but that was an animal I was happy to kill, because it saved so many baby chickens. It was a ruthless killer and there was no choice. The cat had been doing it for years and was left (when my boss took residence) in the house and the old manager fed the cat but said it was not his either. He simply had no gun and did his best to mend any points of entry, and for a week every batch of chickens as they were so tiny and defenceless he just learned to accept it as an unavoidable problem. Not anymore. My boss only put up with it for one batch and gave me a spotlight to find it, so it was nobody’s pet.

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In the UK 100,000,000 birds, reptiles and mammals are killed by cats annually. I belive in the USA it runs to many billions.

That’s a massive and unacceptable toll on the wildlife that is struggling with all the other pressures of modern society.

Cats are a particular problem because they are also fed by humans. If the number of cats was controlled by the availability of prey then most cats would starve and a dynamic balance would arise between predator and prey but because they are fed by humans they exist at a far higher density than is normal for a predator.

In some parts of the world where wild cats never existed (eg Australia and New Zealand) the affect of cats, feral or domestic is devastating and has lead to species going extinct.

On a personal basis I object to having the birds and other wildlife that I try to attract to our garden to increase our enjoyment of life being killed by other people’s pets.

Of course birds die from causes other than cats, the population would explode until they died of starvation otherwise. Its a question of a balance between predator and prey and having a predator with all the killing instincts of its ancestors that doesn’t have to depend on the prey to survive is a recipe from environmental disaster.

I don’t dislike cats at all but I do dislike cat owners that do not spay and neuter their cats. If people insist on allowing their cats to go outdoors they should ensure that the cat has a collar with bells. This would give the song birds a chance at hearing them come.

I have two cats visiting my yard recently that I am trying to figure out where they live. I purchased them collars with bells on them. One of the cats has decided that my classic T-Bird is the perfect location to sit. It’s a convertible and the cat is damaging the cloth.