This letter to the editor was submitted in response to the following article: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2023/aug/19/bird-killing-machines-new-zealand-cools-on-cats-to-protect-native-wildlife
To the editor:
If New Zealand is truly going to have a serious national conversation about cats (Tess McClure, Aug. 18), the first step is to set aside incorrect assumptions and falsehoods about the relationship between cats and native species.
Scientific evidence consistently exonerates the domestic cat species of being a major threat to wildlife populations. Leading biologists, climate scientists and environmental watchdogs agree that climate change, habitat destruction and development are the leading causes of species loss, and to a dramatic degree. Attempting to pin the blame on cats conveniently ignores the reality that the solutions to species loss rest squarely in our hands.
Furthermore, the idea of killing cats to save wildlife is both scientifically and morally flawed. The removal of cats doesn’t work, either, because of a phenomenon known as the vacuum effect. While removal may temporarily reduce the number of unowned community cats living outside in a given area, the population quickly rebounds as surviving cats move in to take advantage of the newly available food and shelter. The vacuum effect has been scientifically observed in many species.
Trap-Neuter-Return, or TNR, is the only effective and humane approach to address populations of community cats. TNR involves humanely trapping, spaying or neutering, vaccinating and returning community cats to their outdoor homes. TNR ends the breeding cycle, which means no new litters of kittens.
New Zealand should renounce practices that lead to nationwide cruelty toward cats, and instead commit to humane, lifesaving policies that reflect today’s moral standards for modern societies.
Alley Cat Allies