The last time people started killing cats was when they were burning witches. It resulted in plagues of rats and also the Black Plague.
Australian Environment Minister Tanya Plibersek is introducing legislation to kill off this wrongly maligned species.
However, she neglects to take into account destruction by humans. This is far more damaging than any feral cat activity.
Feral cats cause none of these but are known to hunt rodents.
Ms. Plibersek has parroted former Health Minister Greg Hunt’s claim that feral cats kill up to two billion animals per year.
ABC fact-checked this with Professor John Woinarski from Charles Darwin University and consultant biologist Andrew Burbidge and found that there is no basis for this figure.
Studies on Feral CatsThe University of New South Wales (UNSW) has completed a number of studies on feral cats.
This study adds to the wealth of material that shows that dingoes keep down the numbers of red foxes, feral goats, and feral pigs and help stop kangaroos from overpopulating in some areas.
The study also showed that the area produced enough garbage to feed three times more cats than those already living in the neighbourhood.
21st Century SolutionsCommunity cats have earned a positive place in society for over 10,000 years. Ancient Egyptians worshipped them.
After the Romans conquered Egypt they saw how useful the cats were in protecting crops from vermin and their ability to kill rats increased their popularity when they were brought to Europe.
That is until Pope Gregory IX issued a Papal bull in 1233 linking cats to witchcraft and Satanism. Cats were then tortured and killed in huge numbers.
This Papal dislike of felines enabled the Black Death to get a foothold in Europe with almost half of all Europeans dying in what was the most fatal pandemic in human history.
Before the slaughter, cats coexisted with people who, as mentioned, revered their ability to keep rodents down. Thus cats weren’t domesticated but would have free rein on farms, ships, and other areas.
The best way to treat colony cats is not with poison such as the torturous 1080 that is being used in Western Australia where animals have up to 48 hours of excruciating agony leading to death.
It is not just cats that suffer. Poisoned baits can be eaten by native animals. The cat carcasses can also be eaten by native animals who will all suffer the same torturous fate as the cat.
Rather than this inhumane killing, the government should look to the people who have formed cat groups and have had huge success with trapping cats, neutering them, and returning them.
These community cats do not belong in shelters where they are killed. This is not euthanasia unless the cat is terminally ill or with an untreatable injury. This is just plain killing.
If Ms. Plibersek gets her way, could Australia find itself back in the Middle Ages and be overrun with rats as a consequence?
And perhaps when it’s too late, like in Europe, laws will be repealed with new laws brought in to protect felines rather than killing them.