Cat Wars: The Devastating Consequences of a Cuddly Killer
Finally, a book backed by serious scholarship has arrived that “confirms everything we anti-catters have long known to be true,” said Johnny Oleksinski in the New York Post. Simply put, “cats are the worst.” Given freedom to roam outdoors, they become twisted serial killers, murdering for sport alone and achieving death tolls that threaten victim species with extinction. Biologist Peter Marra and other researchers recently published a study claiming that cats each year kill 4 billion birds in North America, as well as tens of billions of small mammals, amphibians, and reptiles. And because cats are rapidly spreading a dangerous parasite, “humans are in peril, too.”
Unfortunately, Marra and co-author Chris Santella wildly overstate their case, said Colin Dickey in the Los Angeles Review of Books. Instead of initiating a thoughtful conversation about the harm being done by outdoor pet cats and strays, the authors indulge in “rabid anti-feline propaganda.” Describing the war that’s broken out between bird people and cat people, the book “bends over backward to paint cat owners as unstable and poorly educated.” The book also decries cats as disease vectors without acknowledging that all creatures are. Worse, it perpetuates the myth that we can return to an Edenic past before humans disrupted nature’s equilibrium. In truth, nature has always been in flux.
Here’s a solution for “the easy part” of the debate: Cat owners need to keep their pets indoors, because even the cats will be safer that way, said Natalie Angier in The New York Review of Books. But what of America’s 80 million strays? Cat Wars argues that widespread eradication is the only solution, ruling out even trap-neuterreturn programs. Zero tolerance makes no sense, though, in areas that are overrun by certain other invasive species, like house mice. Amusing as it is to treat the debate as merely a cat people vs. bird people problem, a solution won’t come easily, and most of us are seeking a “fugitive middle ground.”