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marmar

(77,398 posts)
Tue May 3, 2016, 09:19 AM May 2016

Feral cats are answering the call to duty as American cities take on growing rat problems





(MarketWatch) Chicago’s tenacious rat population has some residents trying a more natural solution. Cats.

Homeowners plagued by rats have been adopting feral cats, which don’t have regular contact with humans and survive outdoors, that have been trapped and neutered or spayed to catch the pests for sport. Proponents of the strategy say that it’s a natural and humane way to rid their properties of the rodents, which can carry disease and cause costly damage to property — not to mention gross out those unlucky enough to cross their paths. It also places these stray cats, which might otherwise enter the shelter system, in a cared-for environment. And they say the method works.

In Chicago, the number of rat complaints is up, and Mayor Rahm Emanuel said in March his administration is working on ways to address the problem, according to reports. That includes preventative rat abatement in areas where water and sewer work is planned (since those projects can stir up rat populations) and better cleaning up of dog feces (which rats sometimes eat), he said. For some residents, help can’t come soon enough.

“We had a warm spell back in February, and the rats started breeding,” said Paul Nickerson, program manager for the Cats at Work Project at the Tree House Humane Society in Chicago, “and people started panicking.” The coming demolition of a hospital complex in Lincoln Park also has people on edge; it’s likely that rats have made their homes below, and construction will send them scurrying to find new homes, area residents fear. Rats in the Rogers Park and Logan Square neighborhoods also have residents filling Nickerson’s email in-box with information requests.

Programs that pit cats against rats also exist in areas including Los Angeles; Austin, Texas; and Reno, Nev., said Francis Battista, co-founder and chairman of the board for Best Friends Animal Society, based in Utah. There are also stories of bodega cats in New York that help shop owners keep their businesses rodent-free. Recently, a mayoral candidate in Rome suggested that cats be employed there to combat that city’s rat problem. ....................(more)

http://www.marketwatch.com/story/are-these-cats-the-answer-to-chicagos-rat-problem-2016-05-02#:OQ33QTNfFl50PA




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Feral cats are answering the call to duty as American cities take on growing rat problems (Original Post) marmar May 2016 OP
K & R malaise May 2016 #1
I'm afraid that one Chicago rat might be too big for the feral cats, however..... marmar May 2016 #2
They have these living in Chicago now. hobbit709 May 2016 #3
I'm in a heavily populated area of the city xloadiex May 2016 #12
It'd be a shame if he ended up in the tiger cage at the zoo! n/t brewens May 2016 #6
+1 jwirr May 2016 #7
Boom! geardaddy May 2016 #23
When I first moved to Florida, I did not realize the good that feral cats do. They eat patricia92243 May 2016 #4
My daughter lives in Kissimmee... ScreamingMeemie May 2016 #5
Wait. It's a good thing they are killing the lizards and frogs? I don't agree. callous taoboy May 2016 #14
If you don't 'overstock' them... Wounded Bear May 2016 #15
I don't agree with the songbird decimation sentiment. hamsterjill May 2016 #17
I'm sorry, but it is a well-documented fact that cats are decimating song bird populations. callous taoboy May 2016 #20
And there is plenty of evidence that refutes those statistics, too. hamsterjill May 2016 #25
Not familiar with ACA, but I noticed that while callous taoboy May 2016 #36
...crickets. callous taoboy May 2016 #41
Some of those critters eat mosquitoes TexasMommaWithAHat May 2016 #40
as long as local activists trap/neuter/release. That cat should have a notched ear- KittyWampus May 2016 #8
This!!!! hamsterjill May 2016 #18
Great idea. Neutering is vital. Our cat Othello was a big guy & a mighty hunter... Hekate May 2016 #31
I saw a documentary how the British use Terriers to fight rats. DetlefK May 2016 #9
Back in the old days - They would bet on rat-killing dogs packman May 2016 #11
Yes! I first read about that in Crichton's book, "The Great Train Robbery". closeupready May 2016 #28
"Rat Terriers" -- I don't hold with "pit" killings, but those little dogs were bred to kill rats... Hekate May 2016 #32
Yup, they "kill" their toys the same way n/t TexasBushwhacker May 2016 #46
Feral cats don't work TonyPDX May 2016 #10
They work here in IA Vincardog May 2016 #13
Wharf rats are nasty... Wounded Bear May 2016 #16
Yes. I recommend a .38. Eleanors38 May 2016 #29
Yes, same here. fasttense May 2016 #19
H.P. Lovecraft would approve. ChazInAz May 2016 #21
There were cats all over my old neighborhood in upper Manhattan KamaAina May 2016 #22
In New York they have people with terriers who go out hunting for rats geardaddy May 2016 #24
I got a dog from the city pound here in Chicago mucifer May 2016 #26
Many years ago, my husband decided to hang a bird feeder 1monster May 2016 #27
My 2: Cats should be legal in restaurants. Long overdue. Eleanors38 May 2016 #30
Hell no, they shouldn't. Some of us have severe allergies to them. GaYellowDawg May 2016 #33
Free to roam sarisataka May 2016 #34
Smart-assery abounds -- catsup to you! Eleanors38 May 2016 #38
As a menu item? hack89 May 2016 #35
Great minds run in the same gutter. Eleanors38 May 2016 #39
When I was in NYC some of the little markets that had delis had a cat loose inside. cui bono May 2016 #37
Breaks my heart! cats KILL so many songbirds, who have not evolved to defend against cats amborin May 2016 #42
We have a feral cat problem in FL Raissa May 2016 #43
I love cats, too, but as you say, they are so destructive amborin May 2016 #45
more here, from ABC: in US, Cats Kill 2.4 Billion Birds Per Year amborin May 2016 #44

malaise

(271,798 posts)
1. K & R
Tue May 3, 2016, 09:25 AM
May 2016

Our feral cats ensure that we don't even have a mouse, let alone rats, on this property. We do feed them and and provide shelter on the patio - they come and go as they like.

xloadiex

(628 posts)
12. I'm in a heavily populated area of the city
Tue May 3, 2016, 12:02 PM
May 2016

this year we have an explosion of raccoons. They are huge too.

patricia92243

(12,636 posts)
4. When I first moved to Florida, I did not realize the good that feral cats do. They eat
Tue May 3, 2016, 10:14 AM
May 2016

all the lizards, frogs, and other critters around here. Most of them in our neighborhood are surprisingly not afraid of humans. They seem to move from one wooded spot to another. I have seen some of "our" cats up the road. I suppose they rotate yearly so they don't overhunt an area.

ScreamingMeemie

(68,918 posts)
5. My daughter lives in Kissimmee...
Tue May 3, 2016, 10:18 AM
May 2016

and they have a street near their place that they call "Cat Road." There are about 40-ish cats on that one road at night. The police department feeds them, and they in turn, keep that area of Historic Kissimmee rat free.

callous taoboy

(4,610 posts)
14. Wait. It's a good thing they are killing the lizards and frogs? I don't agree.
Tue May 3, 2016, 12:10 PM
May 2016

I'm all for keeping the rodent population down, but feral cats are also responsible for decimating song bird populations. They also kill snakes, many of which are also useful for keeping the rodent population in check. I realize snakes also kill frogs and lizards. I am worried about nature not being in balance.

Wounded Bear

(59,281 posts)
15. If you don't 'overstock' them...
Tue May 3, 2016, 12:13 PM
May 2016

feral cats will become part of the local biosphere. Nature will balance out.

hamsterjill

(15,319 posts)
17. I don't agree with the songbird decimation sentiment.
Tue May 3, 2016, 12:16 PM
May 2016

I know it's a long battle between cat people and bird people, but I simply wanted to state my disagreement.

Birds fly and cats don't.

callous taoboy

(4,610 posts)
20. I'm sorry, but it is a well-documented fact that cats are decimating song bird populations.
Tue May 3, 2016, 12:22 PM
May 2016

And lest anyone thinks I am anti-cat, I've been a cat owner my entire adult life. Cats may not fly, but they can sure stalk as evidenced by the routine piles of feathers I see by my bird feeder from the feral cats in my neighborhood.

www.usatoday.com/story/news/.../cats-wild-birds.../1873871/

hamsterjill

(15,319 posts)
25. And there is plenty of evidence that refutes those statistics, too.
Tue May 3, 2016, 12:32 PM
May 2016

Since you are a cat owner, I'm sure you are familiar with Alley Cat Allies. Their findings are located at this link:

http://www.alleycat.org/page.aspx?pid=945

I manage a feral cat colony. The cats are well cared for and I have YET to see a pile of feathers ever. Yes, cats can and do kill birds, but so do humans, dogs, airplanes and disease.

callous taoboy

(4,610 posts)
36. Not familiar with ACA, but I noticed that while
Tue May 3, 2016, 05:15 PM
May 2016

the study I linked to offers statistics based on science, the president of the ACA does not. She just makes the statement that, "Human impact is the real threat" to birds as if that just proves it. She offers no empirical data to back that claim up. Then she offers this logical fallacy: The Trap-Neuter-Return policy is growing because people see it as a way to protect birds without killing cats. Huh? Also, the study I mention did not focus solely on cat predation, but on human factors causing cat deaths as well. Their findings indicate that felines are the main culprit in bird loss. Can you link me to any scientific study which would give me more information dispelling the Smithsonian findings?

Also, I am suspicious of the ACA's stance that the Smithsonian's findings are based on a tiny sampling size. The ACA cites only the catbird study which did rely on data from 3 sites (and perhaps needs to be expanded and replicated to satisfy the ACA). However, the Smithsonian article based their conclusions on a much larger collection of data and sites, and I believe the ACA is being misleading:

"Marra and his colleagues extrapolated findings from 21 studies in the U.S. and Europe to come up with an estimate of 30 million to 80 million "unowned" cats and 84 million "owned" cats in the U.S., their kill rates, and other factors leading to bird predation."

I also agree with this: "George Fenwick, president of the American Bird Conservancy, says the issue is not cats vs. birds but "a runaway and invasive population of cats" that are killing too many birds." I have seen this in the completely unmanaged feral cat population in my neighborhood which leaves dead birds in their wake many times per month on my property alone. Do you monitor the cats you are managing 24 hours a day? If not, then what proof do you have that they are not preying on birds, toads, reptiles and mammals as other studies have shown that they are doing in alarming numbers?

The fact is feral cat numbers are out of control and they are having a negative environmental impact, except on the rats in Chicago, I suppose.

TexasMommaWithAHat

(3,212 posts)
40. Some of those critters eat mosquitoes
Wed May 4, 2016, 03:17 PM
May 2016

Feral cats don't belong in that ecosystem, although I understand why folks would want them for rats in the city.

 

KittyWampus

(55,894 posts)
8. as long as local activists trap/neuter/release. That cat should have a notched ear-
Tue May 3, 2016, 11:36 AM
May 2016

indicating it has been neutered and isn't breeding.

hamsterjill

(15,319 posts)
18. This!!!!
Tue May 3, 2016, 12:18 PM
May 2016

And an ear tip also indicates that the cat has received a rabies vaccination, something that is vastly important in case anyone was ever bitten, or in some cases, "claims" to have been bitten.

Hekate

(92,320 posts)
31. Great idea. Neutering is vital. Our cat Othello was a big guy & a mighty hunter...
Tue May 3, 2016, 03:38 PM
May 2016

He was neutered, and that never slowed him down. We never saw a live rat in his lifetime.

DetlefK

(16,425 posts)
9. I saw a documentary how the British use Terriers to fight rats.
Tue May 3, 2016, 11:39 AM
May 2016

A farmer had a barn and he wanted to get rid of the rats therein. So he called in a guy with lots of Terriers. The dogs were positioned at strategic positions inside the barn. Then the farmer started removing equipment... Suddenly there were rats everywhere and the little Terriers hunted them down one by one: A bite to the neck and then they shook them violently for a few seconds until the rat's neck snapped. The rats were screaming in panic but the dogs had helluva time and hunted them down one by one.

 

packman

(16,296 posts)
11. Back in the old days - They would bet on rat-killing dogs
Tue May 3, 2016, 11:51 AM
May 2016

a wooden pit, throw a lot of rats in it, set a dog (usually a Terrier or Bit Pull - hence the name) and bets would be taken by the crowd as to how many rats would be killed in a set number of minutes.

 

closeupready

(29,503 posts)
28. Yes! I first read about that in Crichton's book, "The Great Train Robbery".
Tue May 3, 2016, 02:20 PM
May 2016

I honestly NEVER knew there were dog breeds which were good at killing rats.

Hekate

(92,320 posts)
32. "Rat Terriers" -- I don't hold with "pit" killings, but those little dogs were bred to kill rats...
Tue May 3, 2016, 03:42 PM
May 2016

... and it is really a necessary job. Rats foul whatever they come in contact with and are vectors for disease that can sicken or even wipe out human communities when sanitation breaks down. In fact, getting rid of rodents is part of modern sanitation.

TonyPDX

(962 posts)
10. Feral cats don't work
Tue May 3, 2016, 11:47 AM
May 2016

In the 'fifties Mobile, Alabama had a really bad rat infestation near the port and they attempted to use feral cats to eradicate them. Unfortunately the cats were no match for the rats and in short order the cats were wiped out.

Wounded Bear

(59,281 posts)
16. Wharf rats are nasty...
Tue May 3, 2016, 12:15 PM
May 2016

I'm not surprised the cats didn't work. Many wharf rats are bigger than the cats, and would outnumber them in that situation, I would bet.

In more suburban/rural areas thew work fairly well.

 

fasttense

(17,301 posts)
19. Yes, same here.
Tue May 3, 2016, 12:21 PM
May 2016

I'm in the country and the rats don't really get that big but they are very healthy. The cats have nothing to do with the rats. Yes, if they stumble upon a nest of babies, or find some smaller rats, they will kill and eat them. But mostly cats around here hunt mice not rats.

Now dogs here hunt rats. They are very good at hunting rats and they keep them cleared away from the house. Out in the field there maybe some rats but around the house, the rats don't have a chance.

It's strange that the cats hunt the rats there. Must be very hungry cats.

 

KamaAina

(78,249 posts)
22. There were cats all over my old neighborhood in upper Manhattan
Tue May 3, 2016, 12:23 PM
May 2016

it almost felt like a shift change at dusk: the people were coming home, and the kittehs were heading outside.

mucifer

(23,832 posts)
26. I got a dog from the city pound here in Chicago
Tue May 3, 2016, 01:02 PM
May 2016

She looked a lot like a wolf. She killed a few alley rats that came into the backyard.

Go Harpo!


1monster

(11,012 posts)
27. Many years ago, my husband decided to hang a bird feeder
Tue May 3, 2016, 01:16 PM
May 2016

form the California rafters over our deck.

One night there were loud, continuous noises coming from the deck. DH turned on the outside lights and revealed a mass of rats climbing the rafters, getting the bird seed, fighting over the seeds and mice down below scarfing up what the rats dropped.

The next morning the bird feeder was taken down and we started getting cats... (The damage the rats caused to the beams holding up the roof was eye opening, to say the least... they are incredibly destructing little critters.)

We live two blocks from a marsh area (with a natural rookery) and the river is just beyond that, so rats are a given. Once we got our first cats (about 25 years ago, the rat problem got considerably less. Many of our neighbors also got cats.

The only real rat problem we've had since then was about ten years ago when one of my cats brought a live rat into the house. He sat beside it waiting for our reactions. The rat was terrified. The cats tend to view the house as neutral territory and thus, let the rat alone. (Sigh) It took us three weeks to capture that little rodent and release it back outside.

I have come to respect their intelligence and can even admit, that singly, they are kind of cute -- as long as they ARE NOT IN MY HOME!!!

In the meanwhile, DH was driving home a couple of nights ago and saw an old, somewhat mangy Opossum trucking down the middle of the road. It turned into our driveway and trundled to within an inch or two of one of our cats, stopped while the two acknowledged each other, then continued on its way through the fence to the wooded area behind the house...

Cats are incredible animals!

GaYellowDawg

(4,589 posts)
33. Hell no, they shouldn't. Some of us have severe allergies to them.
Tue May 3, 2016, 04:36 PM
May 2016

I'd rather not have a side order of EpiPen with my meal, thanks.

cui bono

(19,926 posts)
37. When I was in NYC some of the little markets that had delis had a cat loose inside.
Tue May 3, 2016, 09:11 PM
May 2016

To get the rats. Made me not want to get a sandwich at those places.

.

amborin

(16,631 posts)
42. Breaks my heart! cats KILL so many songbirds, who have not evolved to defend against cats
Wed May 4, 2016, 04:08 PM
May 2016

i live in Los Angeles and we have rats; there are other, safer and saner ways to deal with them

Raissa

(217 posts)
43. We have a feral cat problem in FL
Wed May 4, 2016, 04:11 PM
May 2016

Feral cats are responsible for killing many native reptile and amphibian species, many with very limited populations. While I love cats I am also aware of how damaging they are to the local ecosystem.

amborin

(16,631 posts)
45. I love cats, too, but as you say, they are so destructive
Wed May 4, 2016, 04:13 PM
May 2016

Cats #1 Threat to Birds

Predation by domestic cats is the number-one direct, human-caused threat to birds in the United States and Canada, as the graphic on the left details. (2014 State of the Birds report.)

In the United States alone, outdoor cats kill approximately 2.4 billion birds every year. Although this number may seem unbelievable, it represents the combined impact of tens of millions of outdoor cats. Each outdoor cat plays a part.

amborin

(16,631 posts)
44. more here, from ABC: in US, Cats Kill 2.4 Billion Birds Per Year
Wed May 4, 2016, 04:12 PM
May 2016
https://abcbirds.org/program/cats-indoors/cats-and-birds/


Cats #1 Threat to Birds

Predation by domestic cats is the number-one direct, human-caused threat to birds in the United States and Canada, as the graphic on the left details. (2014 State of the Birds report.)

In the United States alone, outdoor cats kill approximately 2.4 billion birds every year. Although this number may seem unbelievable, it represents the combined impact of tens of millions of outdoor cats. Each outdoor cat plays a part.
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