The Las Vegas valley has an estimated 300,000 feral cats. This area is defined by surrounding mountains and includes the city of Las Vegas. About two million people live there, along with the very large feral
cat population. Cats can have several litters each year, and a female cat can become pregnant as early as five months of age. Once a feral cat population has reached a very large size, government resources may
be unable to spay or neuter them, so they continue reproducing.
Though we may perceive cats as being calm, beautiful and even benign they are very effective hunters and kill many small animals, including birds. “During an 18-month period, a single cat roaming a wildlife experiment station killed over 1,600 birds and small mammals. A study in England showed that cats wearing bells killed more birds than cats without them; during a study in Kansas, a free-roaming declawed cat killed more birds than the cats with claws.” (Source: New York Times) A study published in 2010 found the impact on bird populations is devastating.
Though trap, neuter and release is often advocated, it may not be as effective as some believe. To make matters worse, some people feed feral cats using their own money to buy pet food and then take it to the areas where they live. The feral cats they feed are not fixed though, so they wind up nourished and reproductively viable, contributing more to an already very difficult problem. One Vegas woman spends $240 a month feeding feral cats.
Pity she doesn’t identify with wildlife as much as cats, because feeding unfixed feral cats is only contributing to the destruction of birds. Up to 500 million birds are killed each year by cats, according to the American Bird Conservancy.
Image Credit: Boksi, Public Domain