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Don’t condemn cats who hunt to survive

Regarding Froma Harrop’s “Cats versus dingoes” op-ed in the March 29 News, she should do rudimentary fact-checking before regurgitating misinformation. The New York Times article on the Smithsonian report indicates that results were based on a mathematical model constructed from other studies selectively sifted for inclusion. This technique led to estimates of between 1.4 billion and 3.7 billion birds and 6.9 billion and 20.7 billion mammals killed each year by cats, whose total population was also estimated. These wild guesses are perfect illustrations of the statistical concept “garbage in … garbage out.”

Alley Cat Allies dug deeper, noting that the results were based on a sample size of 69 birds, 42 of which died, with six deaths directly related to cats. Condemnation of cats who must hunt to survive is misplaced. Can the cats who have been employed for many years as rodent control distinguish “good prey” from “not-good prey”? Should hawks, owls and foxes be condemned? Does Harrop seriously think that using dingoes to kill cats would limit their hunting to selected cats? Harrop seems unaware of efforts to sterilize community cats, and gives too much credit to those who abandon cats, claiming that they seek out feral cat colonies when abandoning pets. We humans need to accept responsibility: Outdoor cats are outdoors because we put them there; they reproduce because we have failed to spay or neuter them.

Harrop might note that chickens are birds, too. Perhaps she could spend some time informing us of the treatment of egg-laying hens stacked in cages with footprints no larger than a piece of printer paper, and the fate of the millions of (non-egg-laying) male chicks who are culled and killed by maceration (feeding them into grinders while alive and conscious). To paraphrase Harrop’s final sentences: As for human purveyors of such pain and suffering, please stop. If you don’t, new laws should stop you.

Karen Waible

Hamburg