A while back, when I noted that cats should be kept indoors because they’re an invasive species that kills hundreds of millions of songbirds, some cat owners responded with claws bared. So I explained that I really do care for cats, citing the Humane Society’s findings that indoor cats live three to five times longer than free-roaming felines, who pay dearly for their so-called freedom, being flattened by cars, poisoned by toxic substances, getting whacked by a dog or other predator, catching other creatures’ diseases, or being kidnapped by some weirdo who tortures animals.
Among the scarier of those “other predators” is the coyote, according to a recent study published in the Journal of Wildlife Management, called “Observations of Coyote-Cat Interaction.” (You gotta love those marvelously dry academic titles.) It turned out that those “interactions” weren’t pretty. “We observed 36 coyote-cat interactions,” the authors note. “19 resulted in coyotes killing cats.” Another study found that cats comprise 13 percent of coyotes’ diet.
This sort of evidence casts more doubt on the practice of “Trap, Neuter, and Release,” which sounds more like a description of a failed marriage than a humane environmental practice. Recognizing the problem of feral cats, TNR programs, as their name would imply, catch cats, neuter them, and release them back into the wild in the hopes that the increase in sterile feral numbers will lead to a population decrease.
But it doesn’t really work that way, for various reasons, including the fact that people tend to dump cats when they know there’s a TNR program in place. And when TNR meets LICK (Let Indigenous Coyotes Kill), a gruesome comedy ensues, in which somebody’s gone through all the trouble of catching and neutering a cat only to turn it loose to be devoured. So trapping and neutering only makes sense if you take the cat home and keep it there.
For more about the cat problem, see the American Bird Conservancy’s Web site. The organization also has a short video, “Trap, Neuter, and Release: Bad for Cats, Disaster for Birds." Warning, though: Though this video is nowhere near as overtly gory as those nature programs where the King of the Beasts rips open some miserable hyena, it does feature songbird mangling that will offend some viewers.