The effects of free-roaming cats on native wildlife populations
Keywords:Feral cat, outdoor cat, stray cat, free-roaming cat, wildlife, cat attack, Trap-Neuter-Release, TNR
Free-roaming cats pose a threat to wildlife in several ways, including predation, disease transmission and food competition. They have been specifically implicated in at least 33 bird extinctions, primarily on islands, making them one of the most important causes of bird extinctions worldwide (Danner et al. 2010). Free-roaming cats are extremely dangerous to wildlife, not only due to the internal and external trauma that can be caused by their bites and claws, but also from the bacteria present in their saliva. They are also responsible for the spread of several zoonotic diseases, including rabies. Free-roaming cats compete with other wild animals for the same food source and can quickly take over a wild animal’s territory and habitat. The outdoor cat’s lifespan is one-third of that of indoor cats due to the high potential for predation, starvation, disease, exposure and being hit by a vehicle. One solution to the problem of free-roaming cats is a method called “Trap-Neuter-Release” (TNR), in which feral cats are humanely captured, spayed or neutered by a veterinarian and then released back to where they were originally found. The best solution to the problem of free-roaming cats is public education. Veterinarians can and should play a major role in this educational effort.
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