Written by Becky Robinson, Alley Cat Allies
True animal lovers care about all animal species. They feel empathy and compassion for both the robin perching outside their kitchen window and the calico cat who lives down the street. They believe that both of these animals—and all other animals—deserve to live their lives in peace.
That’s why, as a lifelong animal lover, I am so disappointed by the continued, misguided campaigns by bird groups that pit cats against birds. This only distracts from the real threat to birds: humans. Habitat destruction, climate change and pesticide use are only some of the human pressures on bird populations, and they will only increase if we continue shifting the blame to cats.
It’s not just birds’ lives at stake; these campaigns are killing cats. In fact, that’s what they’re designed to do. They spread misinformation, and the underlying message is always “kill even more cats.”
The good news? You don’t have to choose between cats and birds. You can help both.
Here are 5 simple ways that you can help save birds and protect cats from propaganda:
1. Use multiple decals or hang ribbons or string on your windows to deter birds.
2. Eliminate pesticide use. There is a wide variety of eco-friendly alternatives.
3. Make an effort to use less. Ditch the plastic and use reusable shopping bags. Walk, bike or take public transportation a few days a week. Turn the water off and unplug electronics when they’re not in use.
4. Make a plan to lower your greenhouse gas emissions. Use the Environmental Protection Agency’s Household Carbon Footprint Calculator.
5. Speak up and get involved. Help educate others about the dangers facing birds and other animals. Get excited; talk about the changes you’ve made and encourage your friends to do the same.
Alley Cat Allies just launched an educational campaign to help people understand that blaming cats will never save birds. Check out Save the Birds to learn more about how to help birds and cats.
While some bird groups encourage more deadly round ups for cats, Alley Cat Allies—first and foremost an organization of animal lovers—is working to protect both birds and cats. Decades of advocacy have made Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR), the only humane and effective approach to feral cats, mainstream. TNR programs save lives and stabilize cat populations. They allow feral cats to live out their natural lives healthy and content in their outdoor homes with their colony families.
For a century, cruel catch and kill methods have failed to stabilize cat populations, and they’ve ended the lives of countless beautiful, healthy cats. These bird groups want even more cats to be killed when, already, 70 percent of all cats who enter our nation’s pounds and shelters are killed there. A feral cat has almost no chance of getting out alive.
While these groups are trying to shift the blame for bird deaths to cats, human impact continues to destroy entire species of birds. In the past 30 to 40 years, several North American shorebird species have declined by more than 70 percent, mostly because of wetland habitat loss. The U.S. alone lost 80,000 acres of coastal wetlands from 2004 to 2009—about seven football fields every hour.
That’s not all. Climate change. Windows. Automobiles. Pesticides. They are all killing birds in massive numbers.
As animal lovers, we can’t choose one species over another (especially when killing cats doesn’t even help birds). We must do what we know is best for both birds and cats—and that’s supporting humane programs like Trap-Neuter-Return for cats, and making simple lifestyle changes to mitigate the real threat to birds.
Photo Credit: steelheadwill via Flickr