The Truth about Cats and Birds

In November, I read a newspaper article about a prominent member of the birding community being arrested for animal cruelty. Jim Stevenson, founder of the Galveston Ornithological Society and author of several books, had allegedly shot and killed several feral cats. “Galveston law enforcement officials say Stevenson shot a cat to death this month near the San Luis Pass Bridge on the island’s west end,” the Los Angeles Times states.

Why did he do this? To protect the birds, he says. “Regardless of what you think about killing an animal, you must ask yourself if one stray cat’s life is worth more than dozens — or hundreds — of wild birds already bowing to the stresses of cars, TV towers, pesticides, loss of habitat,” the Times quoted Stevenson as saying. Although he stops short of admitting killing the cat, he did mention that he had seen it hunting a Piping Plover, which is considered a threatened species.

Piping Plover
Piping Plover, Photo courtesy (c) Mike from

I can see where the man is coming from. I, too, feel angry whenever I see cats roam free because I know that they kill birds. But I could never harm an animal–any animal. My anger isn’t directed at the cats–it’s directed at the people who let their cats run loose, leaving a trail of dead wildlife in their wake, and reproducing at an alarming rate.

I was disturbed by Steven’s actions, but I was also sickened to read that a tollbooth worker by the name of John Newland was feeding the wild cats and thought of them as “his pets.” Doesn’t he understand that by feeding these animals, he’s perpertrating the problem? He feeds the cats; they have kittens. Now there are more homeless pets having to struggle to survive.

According to Spay, Inc., a pair of breeding cats (plus all the kittens born to them) will produce 80,399,780 kittens in a ten-year span (12 cats in one year’s span). These numbers are staggering. Of course, the figures seem inflated to me: most of these cats won’t be lucky enough to survive the hazards of living on the streets.

Anyone who is feeding stray cats is helping to add to overpopulation.

I would be interested to hear your thoughts on this topic. Have you ever birded in the Galveston area? (Check out the Bird Advocates blog for more on the vulnerablity of wildlife due to feral and roaming cats.) How do you feel about people shooting cats? How do you feel about cats killing birds that are already considered to be threatened species?

Sources: Bustillo, Miguel, Los Angeles Times, November 25, 2006

Spay, Inc.

Posted by Snowy Owl

2 thoughts on “The Truth about Cats and Birds

  1. Thank you, Snowy Owl, for speaking out on this topic and helping to protect our birds and wildlife. Thank you also for mentioning the tollbooth operater, John Newland. I’m personally concerned that his feeding the feral cats, “his pets,” near the road and County property is creating a hazard and nuisance to the public, as well as to our wildlife. I plan to look further into that.
    I live in Galveston County and I don’t go to the Island to see the feral cats, or to dodge them in traffic. I go to see the wildlife they’re killing. I believe the county authorities should remember that, and get their priorities straight.

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