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Press Release

For Immediate Release: May 1, 2013
Contact: VAISHALI HONAWAR, or (240) 482-2580; CATE SNYDER, or (240) 482-3890

Petition calls for end to taxpayer-funded war on cats; New research shows study has major flaws

BETHESDA, MD—Alley Cat Allies, the only national advocacy organization dedicated to the protection and humane treatment of cats, today delivered to the Smithsonian Institution a petition signed by more than 55,000 Americans to protest a controversial study the institution funded on cats and wildlife.

The signatures were delivered by Alley Cat Allies president and co-founder Becky Robinson to Smithsonian Undersecretary of Science Eva Pell, along with an analysis by an independent researcher that found major flaws in the Smithsonian study.

“Americans don’t want an institution that receives taxpayer money to fund a study that essentially declares war on the nation’s most beloved companion animal,” Robinson said. “We are calling on the Smithsonian to disavow this research and stop funding junk science with immediate effect.”

Alley Cat Allies asked an independent researcher, statistician Gregory J. Matthews of the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, to conduct a thorough and independent review of the Smithsonian study which appeared in the journal Nature Communications.

Matthews found numerous major flaws in the study, like the method used by the researchers to come up with the number of birds killed. The Smithsonian researchers studied a small sample of cats over three summer months in one specific geographic area and extrapolated it to cats all across the United States over all seasons. Some of the studies researchers used to make their case were decades old, including one from 1930. Matthews concluded that had he been a peer reviewer of this paper, he would have graded it unacceptable for publication.

“The researchers at the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute who conducted the study have a history of publishing papers blaming cats for wildlife decline and calling for an end to Trap-Neuter-Return,” Robinson said. “There is abundant scientific evidence all around us that TNR works. More and more local governments and states are adopting TNR because it is the only humane and effective way to reduce feral cat populations.”

More than 330 local governments have adopted or endorse TNR and two states, Illinois and Utah, and the District of Columbia have enacted laws that support TNR. Several state legislatures are now considering bills that would make it easier for communities to conduct TNR.

On May 2, Alley Cat Allies will launch the website “Common Sense for Cats” to educate Americans about outdoor cats and why TNR is the only humane and effective program to stabilize and reduce outdoor cat populations.

The web site, which is at, also debunks common myths surrounding outdoor cats and wildlife.
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About Alley Cat Allies
Alley Cat Allies is the only national advocacy organization dedicated to the protection and humane treatment of cats. Founded in 1990, today Alley Cat Allies has nearly half a million supporters and helps tens of thousands of individuals, communities, and organizations save and improve the lives of millions of cats and kittens nationwide. Their web site is