Cat Wars: The Devastating Consequences of a Cuddly Killer
Marra’s book tells the story of the threats free-ranging cats pose to biodiversity and public health throughout the world. His lecture will trace the historical and cultural ties between humans and cats from early domestication to the current boom in pet ownership, along the way accessibly explaining the science of extinction, population modeling and feline diseases.
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[00:00:00.251]Thanks to everybody for coming tonight.
[00:00:03.933]Just want to say that, you know,
[00:00:06.163]I get it. I really do understand.
[00:00:08.114]Cats. I like cats. They are adorable.
[00:00:11.015]They are fascinating animals.
[00:00:12.527]For anyone who studies animal behavior,
[00:00:14.782]having a cat in your home, watching a cat
[00:00:18.744]exhibit the behaviors that it does, is fascinating.
[00:00:21.816]They'll curl up in your lap, they'll rub against your leg,
[00:00:24.986]they'll sleep on your neck and at the same time
[00:00:27.582]contemplate your demise, how they're gonna kill you.
[00:00:29.972]They'll do that.
[00:00:30.805]They'll hide around the corner so as soon as you
[00:00:32.666]turn around the corner they'll attack your shoelace.
[00:00:35.482]They are perhaps America's favorite pet
[00:00:38.200]because they have all these incredible behaviors
[00:00:40.516]that they have this facial disc, this face,
[00:00:42.869]that will stare at you.
[00:00:44.088]They'll be loving, they'll be cuddly.
[00:00:45.893]They'll do all these things.
[00:00:46.856]Kittens. I mean, what's not to like about kittens?
[00:00:50.708]On You Tube there are some sites.
[00:00:53.634]One of my favorite sites is Cats Attacking Babies.
[00:00:57.376]Go to it. Google it.
[00:00:58.961]There are millions and millions of views
[00:01:01.570]of this site that have cats attacking babies.
[00:01:06.994]But all these behaviors that make cats
[00:01:09.359]such wonderful animals to have as pets
[00:01:12.724]are behaviors that are also linked
[00:01:14.821]to a lot of things they do that are not so good.
[00:01:18.222]Like the behaviors they exhibit when they are doing
[00:01:20.404]what comes naturally to them, which is preying
[00:01:23.626]Whether they're fed or not.
[00:01:25.938]Cats will prey on things that move.
[00:01:28.157]They'll attack things that move. That's what they do.
[00:01:29.959]That's just what they do.
[00:01:30.930]It's really not that surprising.
[00:01:33.161]And cats can have a horrible impact on mammals,
[00:01:37.135]on birds, on reptiles, amphibians.
[00:01:40.073]I'll talk about that in more detail tonight.
[00:01:43.047]But cats also carry a whole suite of diseases.
[00:01:46.022]Many of these diseases are transferred to humans
[00:01:48.814]in various ways, and we'll talk a little bit
[00:01:50.654]about that, as well.
[00:01:52.227]But cats, when they're outdoors, it's also bad for them.
[00:01:56.457]They live half the life outdoors than they do indoors.
[00:01:59.956]They have enormous numbers of diseases
[00:02:02.345]that they're exposed to outdoors.
[00:02:04.149]They get hit by cars, they get eaten by predators.
[00:02:06.831]It's not good for cats to be outdoors, either.
[00:02:09.976]They are a non-native, invasive, predator.
[00:02:13.463]That's what they are. They're domesticated.
[00:02:15.389]We'll talk about this.
[00:02:16.608]The other thing I want to make sure we're clear on
[00:02:18.680]is that this is a global problem.
[00:02:20.911]This is not a problem just in the United States.
[00:02:23.484]It's a problem globally, except on the Poles,
[00:02:26.543]everyone is dealing with this issue.
[00:02:28.262]It is a tremendous issue.
[00:02:30.274]So tonight as I walk you through this issue,
[00:02:32.285]much of which is things that are pulled from the book,
[00:02:35.491]I'm not going to tell you everything in the book
[00:02:37.198]because I really want you to buy the book.
[00:02:38.856]Frankly I want you to buy multiple copies of the book,
[00:02:40.831]not because I want to get rich and go retire in Barbados,
[00:02:43.797]because that's not gonna happen,
[00:02:46.170]but I want to get this message out there.
[00:02:48.572]I wrote this book because there are a lot of people
[00:02:49.742]who had not made up their mind.
[00:02:51.350]There are a lot of people that don't understand the issue.
[00:02:53.967]and so we wrote this book with a hope
[00:02:55.893]of reaching a lot of those people to get their voices...
[00:03:00.397]Can everyone hear me?
[00:03:02.579]To get their voices out there.
[00:03:04.310]I want people to talk about this issue.
[00:03:05.894]I want birders to become conservation biologists,
[00:03:08.162]which is a big challenge.
[00:03:10.003]It is a big challenge.
[00:03:11.344]So today as I'm talking, as I'm presenting this information
[00:03:14.391]to you, I want you to ask this question of yourself.
[00:03:17.110]Despite how cute they are, despite how wonderful an animal
[00:03:20.499]these cats are and what good pets they make,
[00:03:22.461]should we let them persist outdoors
[00:03:24.741]despite the consequences they have for wildlife,
[00:03:27.521]for humans, through those diseases
[00:03:29.096]that I'll describe to you, and for themselves?
[00:03:32.116]And ultimately, what you need to know is that this comes
[00:03:35.405]down to this question of whether or not
[00:03:38.355]we are okay with euthanizing these cats.
[00:03:41.001]If that is one of the solutions.
[00:03:42.841]Unfortunately, as you'll see, it really is,
[00:03:46.109]has to be one of our discussions.
[00:03:51.716]Let's start with a little bit of background on cats.
[00:03:55.081]There are about 40 species of cats.
[00:03:58.384]Native, species of cats around the world.
[00:04:00.701]Most of us are familiar with the seven big cats.
[00:04:03.127]Things like lions and tigers and cheetahs and cougars
[00:04:07.149]and snow leopards, I always forget a couple of them.
[00:04:10.892]John, feel free to jump in, throw them out.
[00:04:12.903]But there are about 33 other species of really fascinating
[00:04:17.438]Things like flat faced cat, sand cat, a bobcat, linx,
[00:04:23.765]these are all ones you've probably heard of.
[00:04:25.825]There are really fascinating species that occur
[00:04:27.971]within native ranges.
[00:04:29.190]This is the European wildcat and there are about
[00:04:31.543]20 different so-called subspecies of the European
[00:04:33.725]wild cat that occur in places like Scotland and
[00:04:38.258]Europe and Northern Africa and parts of Asia.
[00:04:41.879]Today's domesticated cat was thought to have risen
[00:04:44.536]from five different subspecies of the European wildcat.
[00:04:49.047]No one knows exactly how it happened,
[00:04:50.607]but we think it happened about 10,000 years ago.
[00:04:52.789]There are bones of a domesticated cat
[00:04:55.057]that were found in tombs.
[00:04:56.739]It was about the same time, in an area known
[00:04:59.616]as the fertile crescent where people started
[00:05:01.932]to store water, build houses, store grain.
[00:05:04.785]And when you do that, what happens?
[00:05:06.260]You start attracting mice, birds, other small animals.
[00:05:10.112]When you start doing that
[00:05:11.282]you're basically creating an ecosystem
[00:05:14.306]and when you do that you attract predators.
[00:05:16.146]What we thing happened was these European wildcats
[00:05:19.414]started to come closer and closer to humans
[00:05:21.961]in this situation, and we now know there's a gene
[00:05:25.387]for tameness so there may have been some
[00:05:26.789]individuals that came into that situation
[00:05:28.605]They may have been captured and bred in captivity.
[00:05:30.946]Over time they may have just acclimated to humans.
[00:05:34.103]We don't know exactly, but we've think they've been
[00:05:36.529]domesticated for about 10,000 years or so.
[00:05:41.259]Since then they've become deeply embedded in our culture,
[00:05:45.969]They are in Roman and Egyptian sculptures,
[00:05:49.317]all over the place.
[00:05:50.585]This is a famous painting by Pablo Picasso.
[00:05:52.584]Pablo Picasso painted about 50,000 different paintings
[00:05:55.437]that he left us with.
[00:05:56.448]Many of which, not all, not the majority, but many,
[00:05:59.252]have cats in them.
[00:06:00.130]This is Cat Eating Bird, and he's got several with
[00:06:02.020]the same conceptual idea in it.
[00:06:07.344]Mark Twain used to be seen with a cat
[00:06:09.651]draped around his neck.
[00:06:10.907]He loved cats.
[00:06:12.297]Ernest Hemingway, same thing. Loved cats.
[00:06:13.954]You go to any of Ernest Hemingway's houses
[00:06:15.759]they're still surrounded by outdoor cats.
[00:06:18.429]The one in Cuba I've been to a couple of times
[00:06:20.002]there's all these outdoor cats that are essentially
[00:06:22.708]next generations of cats that he had.
[00:06:26.573]They are in our contemporary culture.
[00:06:28.657]Let me see if I can get this...
[00:06:30.754]This pointer's not working.
[00:06:33.070]Felix the Cat, and then there's Morris the Cat.
[00:06:38.410]That's sounding pretty darn good right now, to me.
[00:06:41.006]Garfield. Garfield the Cat. Little Kitty. Grumpy the Cat.
[00:06:45.931]There's actually a coffee named after Grumpy
[00:06:47.687]called the Grumppuccino.
[00:06:48.520]Felix the cat.
[00:06:50.088]But the point is, is that cats, not only are they cute,
[00:06:53.489]not only, they're probably America's favorite pet,
[00:06:56.001]they're embedded in our culture in many, many ways.
[00:06:59.226]It's created a lot of misunderstanding,
[00:07:02.880]a lot of love for an animal, a caricature,
[00:07:04.989]a meme that we scratch our heads over.
[00:07:08.305]How could any of these characters be that devastating?
[00:07:12.133]Well the fact is, they are.
[00:07:13.925]The main point I want you to understand, and there's
[00:07:16.985]no question about this, this is fact.
[00:07:19.423]The cat, this is a domesticated species.
[00:07:23.031]They occur in no native ecosystem anywhere in the world.
[00:07:26.822]They're domesticated like the sheep, like the cow,
[00:07:30.077]like the dog, the chicken, pig, and the rabbit.
[00:07:32.662]These are all domesticated species
[00:07:34.807]that occur in no native ecosystem.
[00:07:37.343]It's really important. And we have a hell of a lot of them.
[00:07:42.024]There's a lot of cats in the United States.
[00:07:44.535]When I think of the different types of cats
[00:07:46.803]there's a lot of confusion out there over this
[00:07:48.692]but this is how I'm gonna be referring it.
[00:07:50.826]Basically as owned cats, that are the indoor cats,
[00:07:54.312]or outdoor cats
[00:07:56.165]And then there's unowned cats, and these are cats
[00:07:58.506]that are sometimes around humans.
[00:08:00.846]And then there are the truly feral cats
[00:08:02.736]that are not associated with humans at all.
[00:08:05.052]They're out in woodland areas and in National Parks
[00:08:07.710]and a variety of places.
[00:08:08.721]So that's how I think of these various categories
[00:08:11.883]But they're all the same domesticated cat species.
[00:08:14.975]For owned cats we have pretty good estimates
[00:08:17.876]of the numbers out there.
[00:08:19.047]There are about 90 million owned cats.
[00:08:22.009]Roughly 66% of these go outside.
[00:08:25.666]These are owned cats that are let outside by their owners
[00:08:27.678]and their owners feel really strongly that cats
[00:08:29.726]have to go outside.
[00:08:32.570]They do it because they want to enrich their cat's life.
[00:08:34.456]They think that's what they want to do,
[00:08:35.748]to enrich their cat's life.
[00:08:38.052]That 66% number, some people think that's gone down
[00:08:41.331]because of educational campaigns, and some people think
[00:08:43.794]it's an underestimate, because a lot of low income areas
[00:08:46.280]have not been sampled well in this number.
[00:08:49.730]I'm gonna leave it at 66%, so that means there's
[00:08:51.998]roughly in the United States,
[00:08:53.839]60 million outdoor, owned cats.
[00:08:57.374]For the unowned cats it's a much more difficult thing
[00:09:00.153]to get a figure on because we don't really have,
[00:09:02.604]I would say, a good estimate.
[00:09:04.079]There've been all kinds of numbers thrown out there.
[00:09:06.005]Some people say there're somewhere between 60 and 100
[00:09:08.175]million unowned cats, these are cats that are typically
[00:09:11.125]associated with a colony, they're being fed,
[00:09:13.258]or they're in the cities.
[00:09:14.465]I use the number as low as 30 million
[00:09:17.598]and I go to 80 million in a lot of the modeling
[00:09:19.585]and a lot of the statistics and things that I do
[00:09:21.731]to be as conservative as possible.
[00:09:23.791]Because I want to be as conservative as possible
[00:09:25.644]so I'm underestimating things as much as I can.
[00:09:28.118]But I always use a range so we understand
[00:09:30.130]the range, and the uncertainty.
[00:09:31.605]It's really important.
[00:09:33.275]Now as far as feral cats, we have no clue.
[00:09:36.762]We really have no idea how many truly feral cats
[00:09:40.760]I will tell you that I recently served on a panel
[00:09:43.625]for the National Parks Service, and they have a problem
[00:09:45.929]on a minimum of 40 National Parks with feral cats.
[00:09:50.598]I think the number is actually probably a lot larger
[00:09:53.328]than we think.
[00:09:55.803]So we have somewhere between 90 and 160 million
[00:09:58.132]outdoor cats in the United States and that number
[00:10:00.655]I'm certain, is growing.
[00:10:02.922]And it's probably growing exponentially.
[00:10:06.116]At the same time, in the United States, we have
[00:10:08.847]roughly 750 to 800 species of regularly occurring birds.
[00:10:13.492]Things like Swallows and Terns and Tanagers and Ducks
[00:10:16.174]and Gnatcatcher and Grosbeaks and Buntings and Sparrows
[00:10:20.050]and Catbirds and Hawks, almost 50% of these species
[00:10:24.134]have shown significant declines in the last 50 years.
[00:10:27.925]We are in the sixth mass extinction.
[00:10:29.742]That's not a belief, that's fact.
[00:10:32.509]That is clear.
[00:10:33.557]The evidence is overwhelming that
[00:10:35.325]we are in the sixth mass extinction,
[00:10:36.532]and it's all caused by humans.
[00:10:38.885]All this is a human problem to be clear.
[00:10:40.908]I know that I understand it.
[00:10:42.432]It's all a human problem.
[00:10:43.931]All the extinctions we've seen in the last 125 years,
[00:10:47.564]and birds have been 11 extinctions in the United States,
[00:10:51.660]in the last 125 years or so
[00:10:53.135]have all been caused by humans.
[00:10:54.744]Over harvesting, habitat loss have been the primary causes
[00:10:59.413]but one has been related to cats.
[00:11:01.815]We're talking about species that are going to decline
[00:11:04.948]in our very lifetimes.
[00:11:06.801]Species like this Cerulean Warbler.
[00:11:08.349]That's declined by about 75% in the last 40 years.
[00:11:12.335]I'm working on a paper now, I'm entitling it,
[00:11:14.347]The Collapse of the North American Avifauna.
[00:11:16.907]The Piping Clover, another species.
[00:11:19.881]A species that's constantly encountering cats
[00:11:23.234]as a problem.
[00:11:24.916]We have a responsibility to protect these native species
[00:11:28.159]no matter what the threats are.
[00:11:30.012]By all means, the major threats are habitat loss,
[00:11:33.608]But today, unlike the days of DDT or the days of
[00:11:37.009]over harvesting where it was pretty much a single factor
[00:11:39.667]that was driving these extinctions that were causing
[00:11:42.056]these species to decline, today we're dealing
[00:11:44.531]with multiple and interacting effects that are
[00:11:46.908]causing these declines
[00:11:47.932]And for most of those species, we don't know what
[00:11:50.553]the true declines are.
[00:11:52.284]We don't. That's exactly what I work on.
[00:11:54.624]These are truly enigmatic declines that we cannot
[00:11:57.014]put a finger on.
[00:11:58.391]We just can't do it.
[00:11:59.610]No species went extinction due to DDT
[00:12:02.658]because we stepped in there, we solved the problem.
[00:12:05.377]Could you imagine what it would have been like,
[00:12:07.486]trying to tell our kids, what a bald eagle was,
[00:12:09.412]or not being able to show our kids
[00:12:10.765]what a bald eagle was?
[00:12:11.911]I was birding last weekend in Maryland.
[00:12:13.544]I saw six in an hour.
[00:12:15.361]I was actually looking at them through the window.
[00:12:17.323]Identifying them through the sky roof.
[00:12:18.835]It was fantastic.
[00:12:20.456]Because we can actually see now, that many bald eagles.
[00:12:22.590]Brown Pelicans, Peregrine falcons, these are species
[00:12:25.393]that were all so close to the brink.
[00:12:27.576]Now we're dealing with that again with so many
[00:12:29.941]other species and we don't know why.
[00:12:33.147]Tonight I'm going to talk about the consequences of cats.
[00:12:36.353]What the evidence is.
[00:12:38.859]Both on wildlife, as well as on humans, and on themselves.
[00:12:42.751]I'll talk about the evidence
[00:12:43.726]and I'll talk about the science.
[00:12:45.421]This is not a belief system.
[00:12:46.737]Most of this science, actually isn't mine.
[00:12:48.761]In my book I've got hundreds of citations that have
[00:12:52.869]been studying this for a long time
[00:12:54.478]and believe me, I'm a researcher, I don't believe
[00:12:57.282]we need any more science in this field
[00:12:59.696]to make a decision.
[00:13:00.830]This is overwhelmingly clear.
[00:13:02.634]The science is clear. We have to stop rejecting it.
[00:13:07.108]We'll talk about that and then we'll talk about
[00:13:10.034]What are the solutions?
[00:13:11.045]The solutions are very different
[00:13:12.264]for owned versus unowned cats.
[00:13:14.056]We'll talk about what those are,
[00:13:15.141]and we'll talk about the wars.
[00:13:17.653]The wars are not our wars on cats.
[00:13:20.335]The cat wars refers to the wars between people
[00:13:24.223]and the denial of science.
[00:13:26.150]I thought the book was coming out at
[00:13:27.564]a really appropriate time because as a culture
[00:13:30.623]we are denying science, we are denying facts.
[00:13:33.354]We aren't looking to, sort of, the roots of where these,
[00:13:35.768]of where the science comes from.
[00:13:37.450]It's pretty clear, and so we can't keep pushing back
[00:13:40.547]on the facts.
[00:13:42.570]If we really want to take control of the environment
[00:13:45.216]and protect the environment like we really need to.
[00:13:49.251]Imagine yourself back in 1890.
[00:13:51.774]It was a time where we moved around the planet
[00:13:54.163]primarily in ships.
[00:13:55.663]Most of those ships were wooden ships.
[00:13:58.515]We moved things, like a variety of products.
[00:14:01.783]But when a wooden ship came into port,
[00:14:03.891]if it came into port at night and it was
[00:14:05.354]an unfamiliar port, it was actually quite a
[00:14:08.743]Because if there wasn't a lighthouse there
[00:14:10.389]there was the risk of that ship hitting rocks
[00:14:14.266]and if they did, it was almost certain death
[00:14:16.533]for the sailors.
[00:14:17.366]Most sailors couldn't swim at the time, it wasn't like
[00:14:19.203]they could go out in swimming pools and practice
[00:14:23.043]Couldn't do that at the time.
[00:14:24.213]So in New Zealand this happened to be
[00:14:25.469]a big problem.
[00:14:26.773]Right near Stephens Island there had been
[00:14:28.760]three major shipwrecks in the 1880s.
[00:14:30.601]Hundreds of sailors had died.
[00:14:32.247]So the New Zealand Maritime Agency decided
[00:14:34.441]to put up a lighthouse on Stephens Island.
[00:14:39.012]And put out three different lighthouse keeper families
[00:14:42.962]on Stephens Island to monitor the lighthouse.
[00:14:47.107]One of those keepers was a guy by the name
[00:14:49.399]of David Lyle who is also an armature naturalist
[00:14:52.873]and so he knew most of the birds of New Zealand.
[00:14:55.421]He went out there with his wife and at least one child,
[00:14:59.212]and apparently he brought a cat with him
[00:15:01.150]by the name of Tibbles.
[00:15:02.577]When I look at the research it's not clear
[00:15:03.918]if was actually his cat or it was somebody else's cat,
[00:15:07.343]but it was clear there was a cat, the cat may have been
[00:15:09.403]impregnated, or there may have been other cats out there,
[00:15:11.842]but they were the first cats to ever make it
[00:15:14.060]to Stephens Island.
[00:15:15.950]Within that first six months cats do what cats do,
[00:15:20.009]and Tibbles brought in lots of little presents
[00:15:21.862]for David Lyle, and David knew how
[00:15:23.215]to put up specimens, and so he saw some
[00:15:26.653]of the typical species that were out there
[00:15:28.067]like Rifleman and a few others, but he also noticed
[00:15:30.201]this individual specimen, something now known
[00:15:32.431]as the Stephens Island wren.
[00:15:35.552]Tibbles brought in 15 of these specimen, they're now
[00:15:38.100]in several museums in the US and the UK
[00:15:40.587]and in New Zealand.
[00:15:43.366]David knew this was something new.
[00:15:45.256]He figured it out and it was identified as
[00:15:48.304]a new species and by the end of the year,
[00:15:50.071]or by the end of the six months, there were
[00:15:51.546]no more specimens being brought in by Tibbles,
[00:15:54.350]and by the end of the year
[00:15:55.264]the Christ's Church newspaper's headline was,
[00:15:57.410]Extinct in Less Than A Year.
[00:15:59.287]This was a species discovered and then went extinct
[00:16:01.177]within a year.
[00:16:03.335]I wish I could say that this was the first
[00:16:04.944]and it was the last species to go extinct
[00:16:06.943]from a cat, but I can't.
[00:16:10.308]When the book came out, when I actually recited
[00:16:12.941]another paper that I talked about 33 species extinctions
[00:16:16.256]from cats that were primarily on mainlands,
[00:16:18.561]and then about two weeks after my book came out
[00:16:20.450]another paper came out and the proceedings of the
[00:16:22.291]National Academy of Science.
[00:16:24.010]I'm going to point out, when I talk about these papers,
[00:16:26.180]I'm going to point out the Journals, because in most
[00:16:28.154]cases these Journals are in the top 5% of journals
[00:16:30.946]in terms of their impact factors, the information
[00:16:33.799]is coming out in really excellent places.
[00:16:36.554]But we're still ignoring it.
[00:16:37.980]But this paper came out and the proceedings
[00:16:39.370]of the National Academy of Sciences by a guy by the name
[00:16:42.393]of Tim Doherty, he's a mammalologist,
[00:16:43.451]and he was able to show
[00:16:44.792]that cats have contributed to the extinction
[00:16:47.991]of 63 species of animals.
[00:16:52.774]Two reptiles, 40 birds, 21 mammals.
[00:16:55.584]Some of these, like the Socorro Island Dove,
[00:16:57.487]are just extinct in the wild and hopefully they will
[00:17:00.092]be reintroduced to the Socorro Islands
[00:17:02.340]once it's all clear on that island.
[00:17:05.456]Others are now permanently extinct.
[00:17:07.295]Wiped off the face of the earth, forever.
[00:17:09.338]That's 63 species of animal that have gone extinct
[00:17:13.208]that cats have contributed to.
[00:17:14.638]Now, believe me, I say contributed to, not caused,
[00:17:18.035]because I know that going back in time it's probably
[00:17:21.062]multiple and interacting things that caused
[00:17:23.246]these extinctions like I've said.
[00:17:24.715]Probably a combination of habitat loss,
[00:17:26.653]as well as cats.
[00:17:28.678]It's never just, it's probably not just one thing
[00:17:30.972]that causes extinction.
[00:17:33.237]But that's important, that's sufficient.
[00:17:35.380]But still that hasn't been enough for us to make a case
[00:17:39.032]to keep cats indoors.
[00:17:40.935]One of the things that I typically get from managers
[00:17:43.489]in places like Fish and Wildlife Service and
[00:17:45.367]other groups like the National Audubon Society,
[00:17:47.448]or the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds,
[00:17:49.454]when I talk about this issue with them, they say,
[00:17:51.510]"Yeah, but those are on islands."
[00:17:53.234]The fact of the matter is, actually, they aren't
[00:17:54.690]all on islands.
[00:17:55.826]Many of those are on mainlands.
[00:17:57.538]They'll all say,
[00:17:59.300]"They're not having population level impacts."
[00:18:02.403]Well what does that mean?
[00:18:03.693]Basically what that means, in simplistic terms,
[00:18:06.082]is that the predation caused by cats, they would argue,
[00:18:09.555]cats can actually reproduce enough so the population
[00:18:12.148]rebounds back to the original number.
[00:18:15.404]So they're basically compensating.
[00:18:17.333]Animals can compensate and reproduce enough so they
[00:18:19.683]can actually cover that mortality.
[00:18:22.352]That's called compensatory mortality.
[00:18:24.395]And if it's compensatory, then you would say they don't
[00:18:26.694]have population level impacts.
[00:18:29.146]Alternatively the populations actually don't rebound,
[00:18:32.582]and the mortality is called additive, so it adds
[00:18:34.893]to the typical mortality that's in the environment
[00:18:37.537]and whatever else is contributing to that mortality
[00:18:40.053]and the population remains suppressed.
[00:18:42.402]Turns out there's enormous amounts of evidence
[00:18:45.506]that cats indeed are having population level impacts
[00:18:49.031]on birds, and mammals and other animals.
[00:18:52.939]In fact, 63 species extinctions, each one of those
[00:18:55.787]is a population level impact.
[00:18:57.511]That's what that is.
[00:18:58.852]There's other evidence.
[00:18:59.685]In fact we just published a paper
[00:19:00.767]in the a journal called Frontiers, that summarizes
[00:19:04.139]all of these impacts in one place.
[00:19:07.549]Tonight I'm gonna talk about one study in particular
[00:19:10.001]That did an exceptional job of measuring
[00:19:12.300]population level impacts in Southern California.
[00:19:15.543]This was a study done by Kevin Crooks and Michael Soulé
[00:19:20.179]Not fragments of forests but fragments of grassland.
[00:19:23.857]Grassland that varies, vary in size.
[00:19:25.684]This paper was published in the journal Nature,
[00:19:28.442]another very high profile very good journal.
[00:19:32.772]They looked at these fragments that,
[00:19:34.955]some were small, some were big, they were all
[00:19:36.795]surrounded by houses, many of these people had cats
[00:19:40.613]in these houses that were around these fragments,
[00:19:43.768]and they actually looked at the ecosystem there.
[00:19:46.398]It turns out in these small fragments they didn't support
[00:19:49.489]coyote populations so the cats flourished,
[00:19:52.324]and cats were the dominant predator there.
[00:19:54.253]In the large fragments, coyotes were abundant,
[00:19:57.931]and flourished there.
[00:19:59.195]And it turns out, as you can tell from this picture,
[00:20:01.226]coyotes like to eat cats.
[00:20:03.192]They love cats.
[00:20:05.121]Kevin and Michael looked at this ecosystem really well
[00:20:07.828]and were able to show that in these large fragments,
[00:20:09.999]where there are coyotes, and there are no cats
[00:20:12.043]because the coyote is eating the cats,
[00:20:13.726]bird populations flourished.
[00:20:15.089]Abundances were high, diversities were high, they did
[00:20:19.457]In the small fragments where there were no coyotes,
[00:20:21.845]cats were eating all the birds and they were actually able
[00:20:24.080]to show, through fecal analysis and other studies,
[00:20:26.430]that the cats were actually causing major population
[00:20:29.687]level impacts to the point where several species
[00:20:31.385]went extinct, locally extinct, in these areas,
[00:20:33.786]and overall abundances were significantly lower.
[00:20:36.966]It's a very good study.
[00:20:37.975]I'm not going to go into all the specific details,
[00:20:40.261]but it's very, very convincing.
[00:20:42.598]And there are other studies.
[00:20:43.646]There are some in the UK, there's some in Australia,
[00:20:45.740]there are even been experiments, with cat exclusions,
[00:20:47.758]that show clear population level impacts on mainland areas.
[00:20:52.713]So that is hooey.
[00:20:57.450]Clear evidence for population level impacts
[00:20:59.541]on islands and mainlands.
[00:21:01.588]Still, we haven't done much to really solve this problem.
[00:21:05.866]Several years ago in about 2010
[00:21:06.699]the US Fish and Wildlife Service came to me and they said,
[00:21:09.697]"Pete, we really need to get a handle
[00:21:11.703]"on the number of birds that are killed
[00:21:14.040]"on an annual basis from a variety of direct
[00:21:17.730]"anthropogenic sources, because we're dealing
[00:21:19.646]"with all kinds of things.
[00:21:20.859]"Everything from collisions, to wind turbines,
[00:21:22.775]"to automobiles, to cats.
[00:21:24.461]"How many birds are killed?
[00:21:25.636]"We get all these estimates out there and they're...
[00:21:27.513]"We had a previous analysis that had been done like in
[00:21:31.574]I went back and looked at that, and the data supporting
[00:21:34.243]the papers and the data supporting those initial
[00:21:37.104]estimates were really quite weak.
[00:21:39.147]There was really not much there but people were still
[00:21:40.909]throwing around this number that and this estimate
[00:21:43.847]that buildings and collisions with windows was the
[00:21:46.707]number one killer of birds in the US and in Canada.
[00:21:50.500]But if you looked behind that and tried to figure out
[00:21:52.889]what was driving it, it was really, really unclear.
[00:21:56.362]I think it was like 500 million birds were killed
[00:21:58.470]per year by collisions.
[00:22:01.113]We decided to take this on and I brought on
[00:22:03.029]a post doc by the name of Scott Loss, very talented guy
[00:22:05.813]and we started to really build the data base of all
[00:22:10.130]the papers that had been done that looked at mortality
[00:22:13.361]in, say, cats, and not just birds,
[00:22:15.838]but the mortality of cats.
[00:22:18.213]The number of amphibians, reptiles, mammals, and birds that
[00:22:22.568]cats were causing within the united states.
[00:22:25.621]We just basically looked at the papers
[00:22:27.511]that estimated this.
[00:22:28.737]And there are papers where homeowners are actually
[00:22:30.474]estimating the number of animals that brought in that killed
[00:22:33.539]people had put radio collars on cats and tracked them
[00:22:36.246]24/7 to really get an estimate of the number of things
[00:22:39.018]they were killing.
[00:22:39.975]And there were several other people who actually put on
[00:22:41.814]kitty cams on cats and could actually track them
[00:22:45.198]to see what they were doing at that moment, red handed,
[00:22:48.673]they could figure out exactly how many animals these cats
[00:22:51.125]were killing, so we got really good estimates.
[00:22:53.449]And were able to figure out that actually these homeowner
[00:22:55.684]surveys underestimate what these cats are killing.
[00:22:58.979]Cats only bring back about 1/3 of the things they kill.
[00:23:02.926]That's been shown in several different studies.
[00:23:05.556]If you know the number of animals that cats kill,
[00:23:08.545]owned cats, and unowned cats, because there's a variety
[00:23:11.329]of papers on all those things.
[00:23:12.632]You know the number of cats that are out there,
[00:23:14.598]it's not rocket science to then take those data
[00:23:17.319]and build a simple model, to estimate the mortality
[00:23:20.384]that's caused by cats.
[00:23:21.712]It's really, it's not that hard.
[00:23:23.845]So we did that.
[00:23:24.726]And when we did that we came up with a median estimate
[00:23:27.612]of total mortality of 2.4 billion birds per year.
[00:23:31.967]But a range of 1.3 to 4 billion birds per year.
[00:23:36.437]That may sound really, really high, because it is
[00:23:39.208]but it's also a lot higher than we ever imagined.
[00:23:42.618]Especially compared to what we thought was going on
[00:23:44.087]with collisions, because collisions was previously
[00:23:47.062]thought to be the highest estimate out there.
[00:23:50.255]Unowned cats were responsible for about 69% of the
[00:23:52.848]mortality and free ranging pet cats, so those owned cats
[00:23:56.181]that were going outside, responsible for about 31%
[00:23:59.795]of that mortality.
[00:24:01.340]It's not just birds. It's mammals.
[00:24:03.524]And cats, as we knew, were killing a lot more mammals.
[00:24:06.704]About 12.3 billion mammals.
[00:24:08.620]Cats are opportunistic predators.
[00:24:10.625]They will just kill what moves, and what's
[00:24:12.668]in their size range.
[00:24:15.567]They also kill hundreds and millions of frogs, amphibians,
[00:24:20.535]They'll kill lots of insects, as well, for that matter.
[00:24:25.318]To put this into context with our other estimates
[00:24:28.223]and I know this is a tough graph to read
[00:24:29.781]but I have to use it because it gives you sort of a relative
[00:24:33.306]scale of what these direct sources of mortality are causing.
[00:24:37.929]There's green bars, and there's light blue bars.
[00:24:41.411]The green bars are the United States,
[00:24:42.842]the blue bars are Canada.
[00:24:44.527]The same time we were doing this assessment of direct
[00:24:47.005]anthropogenic mortality, turns out Canada was doing
[00:24:49.993]the same thing.
[00:24:51.258]We didn't know that, so they were doing it
[00:24:53.429]But remember what I told you, in Canada, and in the US,
[00:24:55.855]buildings and collisions were the number one killers
[00:24:57.809]before we did this study.
[00:24:59.521]After we did this study it totally flipped.
[00:25:01.985]In the US cats killed 2.4 billion and only about 500...
[00:25:07.835]My Y axis disappeared for some reason, sorry about that.
[00:25:11.308]About 500 to 600 million birds per year.
[00:25:16.187]So cats are killing 5 times as many birds in the US
[00:25:19.252]as collisions are
[00:25:20.963]In Canada it's about 400 million, I can't see it
[00:25:24.309]without my glasses, I think it's 200 million cats per year
[00:25:29.124]There are many, many fewer cats in Canada than there are
[00:25:32.547]in the US, so that's why there's such a big difference there
[00:25:35.446]but going all the way down the X axis there you can see
[00:25:39.137]after collisions, buildings and collisions, automobiles
[00:25:42.738]is at about 200 million, all the way down to like
[00:25:44.615]wind turbines which is, you know,
[00:25:46.582]in the hundreds of thousands of birds.
[00:25:48.293]Trivial, compared to cats.
[00:25:50.554]One of the reasons I wanted to do this was to prioritize
[00:25:53.683]where I was going to put my effort.
[00:25:55.193]If I was going to focus on wind turbines,
[00:25:57.362]if I want to deal with these
[00:25:58.345]direct anthropogenic sources of mortality,
[00:26:00.107]which is different than habitat loss.
[00:26:01.755]That's a different story, that's indirect.
[00:26:04.232]After doing this it became clear that cats were the thing
[00:26:07.451]we needed to focus on.
[00:26:08.664]So that's what I did.
[00:26:10.809]We got 63 species extinctions, tons of evidence
[00:26:14.909]of population level impacts, and a huge number of birds
[00:26:18.140]that are killed every year by cats in the United States
[00:26:21.703]and this same estimate has been done in the UK,
[00:26:24.232]they've got incredibly high numbers in the UK,
[00:26:26.160]and a few other places.
[00:26:28.408]Still, in most states, in most cities, in most counties
[00:26:32.124]in the US, this problem persists, and we're not really
[00:26:36.109]grabbing the bull by the horns.
[00:26:38.229]We should also talk about another problem.
[00:26:40.068]And that is the disease problem, and how cats carry
[00:26:43.005]a variety of diseases that are transmitted to humans.
[00:26:46.173]Tonight I'm going to talk primarily about
[00:26:47.961]Toxoplasma gondii which is a protozoan parasite.
[00:26:51.460]But there are others. There's plague, there's rabies.
[00:26:54.563]There's a whole series of other diseases that are
[00:26:56.568]transmitted to humans.
[00:26:57.909]Roundworms, a whole bunch of things.
[00:26:59.697]Because of time I'm gonna talk about Toxo.
[00:27:02.366]In the book I go into all, a whole variety of these other
[00:27:06.555]This is a human eye, by the way, and that's a scar
[00:27:08.854]caused by Toxoplasma gondii.
[00:27:11.293]Next time you go to your eye doctor ask him
[00:27:14.141]how many of his patients he actually sees Toxo scars from.
[00:27:17.551]Let me explain a little bit about Toxoplasma gondii
[00:27:20.769]because it's a fascinating animal.
[00:27:25.099]Unfortunately this mouse isn't working.
[00:27:27.053]Toxoplasma gondii only reproduces sexually in cats.
[00:27:31.037]Cats are the definitive host for Toxoplasma gondii.
[00:27:34.358]If we didn't have cats, we wouldn't have Toxoplasma gondii,
[00:27:38.432]They are dependent on cats for their sexual reproduction.
[00:27:43.387]It's not just domestic cats.
[00:27:45.226]Mountain lions, bobcats, all carry different strains,
[00:27:47.959]different types of Toxoplasma, but they all carry
[00:27:51.228]this protozoan parasite.
[00:27:53.706]Every once in a while when a cat is infected
[00:27:56.465]with Toxoplasma gondii it starts to excrete the,
[00:28:00.066]basically the eggs of this parasite, these things
[00:28:03.668]These oocysts are the most indestructible things in nature.
[00:28:07.397]They survive for up to a year in the environment,
[00:28:10.500]they survive in frozen soil, they survive in dry areas,
[00:28:13.833]and in drought areas, deserts,
[00:28:16.260]they survive in fresh water environments,
[00:28:17.971]they survive in marine environments.
[00:28:20.398]That's a problem but if you're a parasite,
[00:28:22.735]it's exactly what you want to do.
[00:28:24.574]The idea behind this incredibly
[00:28:31.052]is to get into something like a rodent, or a bird.
[00:28:35.088]And once a rodent or a bird eats an oocyst
[00:28:37.476]or gets an oocyst, it's behavior changes.
[00:28:40.069]That oocyst actually changes from an oocyst into two
[00:28:43.300]different forms, but eventually moves through muscle
[00:28:45.292]or nerves up to the brain where it changes brain
[00:28:48.511]It changes the behavior of that host, that new host
[00:28:52.419]the directed host, into actually being afraid of cats,
[00:28:55.637]to being attracted to cats.
[00:28:57.489]From being afraid of cat urine to being attracted
[00:28:59.532]to cat urine.
[00:29:00.950]This has been demonstrated in a wonderful experiments
[00:29:03.376]published in some of the best journals out there.
[00:29:05.049]It's really clear.
[00:29:06.441]This parasite changes the behavior of its host
[00:29:09.455]so it makes that host susceptible again to being
[00:29:12.801]eaten by that cat so that it can once again find a new host
[00:29:17.884]There's lots of parasites, wonderful parasites stories
[00:29:20.374]out there like that that are doing similar things
[00:29:23.427]But this one's pretty clear.
[00:29:25.713]The problem is that those oocysts, because they're
[00:29:28.305]throughout our environment, on the globe, get into
[00:29:31.958]a lot of unintended hosts, like humans.
[00:29:34.678]In fact there are estimates that in the United States
[00:29:36.900]somewhere between 15 and 22% of people in the United States
[00:29:40.297]are infected with this lifelong parasite in their brains
[00:29:44.780]and other muscle tissues, for the rest of their life.
[00:29:47.053]It's not curable.
[00:29:48.471]It's estimated that 2 billion people, two billion
[00:29:51.319]of our roughly seven billion people, on the globe,
[00:29:53.911]are infected with Toxoplasma gondii.
[00:29:56.274]How do we get it?
[00:29:57.181]Well we get it either through
[00:29:59.071]direct fecal oral transmission,
[00:30:00.910]because, how many of you have been out in your garden
[00:30:03.247]and you come across a cat Snickers Bar?
[00:30:05.852]When you do that, you touch that, that little
[00:30:08.228]Snickers Bar potentially has oocysts in it,
[00:30:11.829]and that's how you, and if you touch your mouth,
[00:30:13.298]touch your eye, your nose, you eventually can
[00:30:15.533]contract that oocyst.
[00:30:17.499]It also gets into our livestock, it gets into sheep,
[00:30:20.692]gets into pigs, and if we don't cook our meat,
[00:30:23.745]we can also get it through our food.
[00:30:26.605]In fact the CDC says that Toxoplasma gondii is the most
[00:30:30.705]common foodborne illness in the world.
[00:30:34.191]But they still don't treat it as a reportable
[00:30:38.252]Most people are familiar with the dangers
[00:30:40.513]of Toxoplasma gondii when they're pregnant,
[00:30:43.348]especially in their first trimester.
[00:30:44.855]Most pregnant women in the United States know
[00:30:46.988]that they should not change kitty litter.
[00:30:49.734]It's funny, because when I ask about why that is,
[00:30:51.845]and people that I talk to, many people don't know
[00:30:53.711]why that is.
[00:30:55.282]This is why.
[00:30:56.418]Because if you ingest a Toxoplasma oocyst,
[00:30:59.024]during your first trimester,
[00:31:00.058]or at any time during pregnancy,
[00:31:01.782]you have, you run the risk of miscarrying,
[00:31:04.222]or having that fetus developing some mental abnormalities.
[00:31:08.589]This is a serious problem in a lot
[00:31:10.250]of developing countries still.
[00:31:12.101]We've gotten it under control here,
[00:31:13.787]but still every year
[00:31:15.141]there's somewhere between 500 and 1000 cases
[00:31:17.848]of Toxoplasma gondii infection
[00:31:19.968]with pregnant women where there's a miscarriage
[00:31:21.948]or something else.
[00:31:23.072]It's probably a realLY under reported disease
[00:31:25.881]as you might imagine.
[00:31:27.337]This is why, we've done a very good job
[00:31:29.317]since the 1950s of trying to tell people
[00:31:31.591]and educate people about the dangers of Toxoplasma gondii.
[00:31:35.653]The problem is, is that it doesn't stop there.
[00:31:38.679]Most people have thought that this was, you know,
[00:31:40.608]if you come infected most of us have immune systems
[00:31:42.741]that can deal with this.
[00:31:44.299]But we're now learning that it's not that simple.
[00:31:46.866]There's lots of things that change when you become
[00:31:49.254]infected with Toxoplasma gondii.
[00:31:51.221]These cysts that lodge in your brain are not just dead,
[00:31:55.805]they don't just stay there.
[00:31:57.146]They actually continue to change your brain chemistry.
[00:31:59.241]You release dopamine, you release a variety of hormones
[00:32:01.642]in your brain that are then somehow influencing other parts
[00:32:04.873]of, other behaviors.
[00:32:06.418]People have now shown that people who are infected
[00:32:08.219]with Toxoplasma gondii are attracted to cat urine
[00:32:12.165]compared to people who are negative to Toxoplasma gondii.
[00:32:15.716]There's a whole suite of other things.
[00:32:17.848]Schizophrenia, Parkinson's Disease.
[00:32:20.071]There was just a paper that came out that showed
[00:32:21.450]several cancers are now linked
[00:32:23.302]to Toxoplasma gondii infection.
[00:32:26.775]There's one guy that's been studying this
[00:32:27.938]for 20, 25 years.
[00:32:30.070]His name is Fuller Torrey he's the director of
[00:32:32.241]The Stanley Medical Research Institute,
[00:32:33.710]a colleague of his who is chair of neurobiology
[00:32:36.494]at Johns Hopkins.
[00:32:37.631]They've studied this for their entire lives.
[00:32:39.444]I was digging into the literature, I interviewed them
[00:32:41.475]for the book, and I said,
[00:32:43.071]"Fuller, you know, 20 years ago you said nothing
[00:32:45.417]"about cats and the impacts on humans,
[00:32:49.286]"and as you published this incredible body of work,
[00:32:51.470]"looking at the links between schizophrenia
[00:32:53.284]"and Toxoplasma, what is your current position on cats?"
[00:32:59.439]And he says,
[00:33:00.272]"Well, what I tell my, what I tell people
[00:33:01.444]"is that if they have young children, they should not
[00:33:04.995]"have outdoor cats because of the danger of them
[00:33:07.127]"developing schizophrenia later in life."
[00:33:09.184]Schizophrenia is something that is developed
[00:33:11.980]It's not the kind of thing that you're going
[00:33:14.573]It shows up 20, 30 years later, that's typically
[00:33:16.974]what happens as you age.
[00:33:20.064]Most people will not show any symptoms.
[00:33:22.338]But if you're immune compromised you also run the risk
[00:33:24.509]of showing all kinds of symptoms.
[00:33:27.433]Toxoplasma gondii is one of the most common ways
[00:33:30.358]AIDS patients die, actually.
[00:33:33.998]This is one study that I'm gonna refer to,
[00:33:35.735]This is a study done in Denmark.
[00:33:37.510]It looks at Toxoplasma gondii infections
[00:33:39.643]in self directed violence in women that had given birth.
[00:33:43.295]45,000 women were included in this study and they
[00:33:47.088]measured their Toxoplasma gondii antibodies,
[00:33:50.434]if they gave birth between '92 and '95, and because
[00:33:54.878]of the link between Toxoplasma and suicide risk,
[00:33:57.931]and depression they thought this would be
[00:33:59.259]an interesting study.
[00:34:00.664]What they found was that women with Toxoplasma gondii
[00:34:02.822]infection are two times more likely to commit suicide
[00:34:06.028]than those that are negative.
[00:34:07.879]The data out there in the medical fields on the impacts
[00:34:11.596]of Toxoplasma gondii are jaw-dropping.
[00:34:14.916]It's in the book, but if you don't believe it from me,
[00:34:17.943]or if you don't believe the book,
[00:34:19.029]Google the Atlantic, it's a fairly good magazine,
[00:34:21.468]and just look up Toxoplasma, your cat is making you crazy.
[00:34:25.082]It's a wonderful article.
[00:34:26.334]There's also articles in Scientific American.
[00:34:28.671]There are other good articles out there that really
[00:34:30.880]talk about this issue.
[00:34:32.336]Again, I talk about it a lot in the book.
[00:34:34.839]CDC considers it one of the five most neglected
[00:34:38.734]parasites and diseases, although they continue
[00:34:40.931]to neglect it, mainly because of financial reasons.
[00:34:43.690]I was just talking in Atlanta about this
[00:34:45.605]and there were several people from the CDC there.
[00:34:47.316]They recognize it's an issue, they have it
[00:34:49.181]on their website,
[00:34:50.203]but relative to everything else
[00:34:51.799]it's not something that's reportable,
[00:34:53.332]it's not something they can do something about.
[00:34:54.851]But they warn people. They do warn people about it.
[00:34:57.265]I wish it stopped there.
[00:34:59.015]I wish Toxoplasma was just a human problem.
[00:35:00.726]But it impacts huge numbers of wildlife.
[00:35:03.408]As soon as the book came out there were impacts
[00:35:06.090]on this species, Hawaiian monk seals,
[00:35:08.887]another endangered species.
[00:35:10.317]Less than 1,000 left on the island of Hawaii.
[00:35:12.616]Hawaii is covered in cats. It's crazy. It's covered in cats.
[00:35:18.376]When those cats defecate and they have Toxoplasma,
[00:35:20.636]just like plastic runs out into the ocean and we have
[00:35:24.327]these big masses of plastic out in the ocean,
[00:35:27.137]oocytes, through run off, go out into the ocean
[00:35:30.828]stick to algae, on all kinds of things,
[00:35:32.782]and a variety of animals eat them.
[00:35:35.119]Two monk seals, two Hawaiian monk seals died in the fall,
[00:35:38.465]in October, just after the book came out,
[00:35:40.891]because of Toxoplasma poison and many others died.
[00:35:43.407]California sea otters?
[00:35:44.595]Primary cause of mortality is Toxoplasma gondii,
[00:35:48.797]and the list goes on.
[00:35:49.754]Spinner dolphins, whales, birds, a variety of birds,
[00:35:52.858]Hawaiian crow, an endangered species, extinct in the wild,
[00:35:57.634]The last release done several years ago, half of the birds
[00:36:01.453]died within a couple weeks because of Toxoplasma poisoning.
[00:36:05.297]It goes on.
[00:36:06.612]There are people that have spent their entire careers
[00:36:07.953]studying Toxoplasma poisoning in wildlife alone.
[00:36:11.721]But we continue with this allowing of the cats out there.
[00:36:15.539]Hopefully I've convinced you've we've got
[00:36:18.310]a few issues here with the consequences of cats.
[00:36:21.452]They come in a variety of shapes and sizes
[00:36:23.904]What are the solutions?
[00:36:25.296]Well in the same way I've discussed owned versus unowned,
[00:36:27.838]let's do that with solutions.
[00:36:29.179]Let's first talk about that with the owned cats
[00:36:30.012]and the owned cats that go outside
[00:36:33.355]and what we can do about it.
[00:36:34.811]The way I've been thinking about this,
[00:36:36.969]there are a variety of ways,
[00:36:37.802]but one of the most obvious things is that,
[00:36:39.664]when I was growing up, dogs were roaming free.
[00:36:42.090]People were not responsible. We did not license dogs.
[00:36:44.798]Licensing wasn't a big deal.
[00:36:46.088]But people got bit by dogs.
[00:36:48.105]Dogs were the primary carrier of rabies,
[00:36:51.132]and transmitter of rabies to humans
[00:36:52.907]from a domesticated species perspective.
[00:36:55.002]Today, guess what?
[00:36:56.509]Cats are the primary way people get rabies
[00:36:59.204]from a domesticated animal.
[00:37:00.672]Back to the primary animal in general
[00:37:02.856]but from a domesticated animal prospective
[00:37:06.036]But the issue is clear.
[00:37:08.072]When are we gonna start treating cats like dogs?
[00:37:11.092]From the owned cat perspective?
[00:37:13.008]Why don't we require licensing?
[00:37:16.252]Why don't we require people to put their cats
[00:37:19.205]Why is it okay to just open your door and let
[00:37:20.415]this non-native, invasive, incredibly destructive predator
[00:37:25.128]just to go outside?
[00:37:26.341]How is that okay?
[00:37:28.691]The day that op ed came out
[00:37:31.884]my wife and I were at a local bar,
[00:37:33.442]celebrating our 18th wedding anniversary
[00:37:34.949]and our waitress comes up to us and she says,
[00:37:36.583]"I'm a crazy cat person."
[00:37:38.307]I didn't know who this person was.
[00:37:39.891]I get this a lot for some weird reason, but she said that
[00:37:42.918]to me and I'm always nice.
[00:37:45.385]"That's fantastic. I hope you keep your cat inside."
[00:37:48.575]And she said, "Now I do.
[00:37:50.044]"My two previous cats died horrible deaths.
[00:37:52.049]"The first one was eaten by a coyote, and the second one
[00:37:54.642]"was hit by a car."
[00:37:55.638]Cars, by the way, are the primary way cats are killed.
[00:37:58.907]She said, "Now I walk my cat on a leash."
[00:38:02.317]She showed me her pictures.
[00:38:03.773]She said, "This is Moustachio, AKA Moose.
[00:38:06.488]"You can see, he's got a little mustache."
[00:38:08.641]She said, "I've taught Moose to stop at the sidewalk,
[00:38:12.587]"to sit, to walk across the street."
[00:38:14.643]I mean, it's clear you're not gonna go out running
[00:38:16.648]with your cat.
[00:38:17.481]You're not going to get an aerobic workout with your cat.
[00:38:19.551]The whole idea here is that you need to enrich
[00:38:22.731]the cat's life.
[00:38:24.072]It's a pet, just like a dog, you gotta run your dog.
[00:38:26.537]I've got a dog.
[00:38:27.370]I take him out to the park several times a day,
[00:38:29.155]and I throw the ball for him.
[00:38:30.176]He's a retriever. Easy to exercise.
[00:38:32.156]But if you get a pet cat, we have to, inside,
[00:38:36.051]with your laser pointer your feather toy,
[00:38:37.941]to enrich that cat's life,
[00:38:40.265]because that's really important.
[00:38:41.696]Then you need to take it out
[00:38:42.539]and put it on a leash and walk it to give it exercise
[00:38:45.757]so it gets enriched by animals out there.
[00:38:48.132]Or, you need to get a catio.
[00:38:50.393]Catio is basically an outdoor enclosure
[00:38:53.650]where that cat stays safe, it gets to be stimulated
[00:38:56.855]by a variety of things in the environment.
[00:38:59.141]This is something that's actually taking off.
[00:39:01.287]I've given this talk all over the country.
[00:39:03.304]In Portland they have catio and wine tours.
[00:39:06.216]It's really growing out there.
[00:39:07.583]Austin, Texas. People are starting to build these things.
[00:39:10.265]Lots of places people are starting these up
[00:39:11.823]as a business.
[00:39:13.585]This is a reasonable thing in addition to licensing.
[00:39:17.267]To actually have people put their cat in a catio
[00:39:19.665]and the cat is safe, and birds are safe,
[00:39:22.832]and mammals are safe.
[00:39:25.105]Where we get into the problem, real, the big problem
[00:39:28.285]because there's really no excuse
[00:39:30.469]for letting owned cats outside.
[00:39:32.321]That should be a simple problem but it's not.
[00:39:35.398]It should be.
[00:39:36.944]All the groups agree, most of the groups agree on that.
[00:39:39.294]There are a few people out there that I would describe
[00:39:41.733]as on the fringe, that still think it's okay
[00:39:43.700]for owned cats to go outside, but for the most part,
[00:39:45.692]we're all on the same page.
[00:39:47.914]Where we start to differ is on what to do
[00:39:50.149]with the unowned cats.
[00:39:51.452]All 30 to 80, or 60 to 100 million, however many there are.
[00:39:55.871]That's where we start to get into some hot water.
[00:39:58.157]There are a couple of things that we do agree on
[00:40:01.132]and I like to focus on what we agree on first,
[00:40:03.559]so we have some common ground.
[00:40:05.564]The first is that we need to stop pet abandonment.
[00:40:09.957]You might think, pet abandonment, are there really
[00:40:12.971]that many people that are abandoning pets?
[00:40:14.478]Yeah. There are that many people abandoning pets.
[00:40:17.313]For a variety of reasons, and that's gonna be
[00:40:19.331]my next book if you're wondering why the hell
[00:40:20.749]are people abandoning pets of any kind, but it happens
[00:40:23.175]more than you want to think.
[00:40:24.976]Because people adopt things, because the adoptions
[00:40:27.594]might be pushed, because they adopt things without
[00:40:29.727]really understanding the responsibility of caring
[00:40:31.845]for another living thing
[00:40:33.096]Because there are lots of responsibilities that come along
[00:40:36.654]and if you're at a university or you're at a military base
[00:40:39.254]and you're what's known as a transient
[00:40:41.463]and you move somewhere else and you think,
[00:40:42.945]"I'll just leave the cat here, he'll do fine,
[00:40:44.886]"or I'll leave the dog there,"
[00:40:46.406]that's a form of abandonment.
[00:40:47.440]Or you see somebody feeding cats
[00:40:48.781]and you'll dump the cat there.
[00:40:50.327]So stopping pet abandonment is a big deal.
[00:40:53.009]That has to be done.
[00:40:54.605]The second thing is we have to stop cat reproduction.
[00:40:57.619]We really do.
[00:40:58.743]We have to neuter as many cats as possible.
[00:41:02.293]Neuter and sterilize as many cats as possible.
[00:41:05.154]We have to figure out a way to do that.
[00:41:07.274]Non-invasively, through some oral thing,
[00:41:09.739]but no one has been able to solve that problem.
[00:41:13.289]That's where we stop. In agreement.
[00:41:15.639]Where we really start to differ is in this so-called
[00:41:19.138]management approach that has been promoted
[00:41:21.143]by a lot of what we call humane groups out there.
[00:41:23.991]I don't call them humane groups, they call themselves
[00:41:27.031]They've been promoting for the last 30 or 40 years
[00:41:29.432]something called Trap-Neuter-Return,
[00:41:33.825]or Trap-Neuter-Vaccinate-Return, and feed.
[00:41:36.967]This is a methodology where basically their idea is that
[00:41:41.424]if you trap as many cats as you can and you neuter them
[00:41:43.633]and you put them back out there and you feed them
[00:41:46.519]that over time, if you neutered enough,
[00:41:48.652]you sterilize enough, the population will go extinct
[00:41:51.870]through natural attrition.
[00:41:53.505]So they'll die, but they won't die directly
[00:41:56.762]at that point.
[00:41:57.595]It'll take time.
[00:41:59.482]When I look at the literature of this, I found
[00:42:01.873]really weak emperical support that this actually works,
[00:42:06.404]but I also, in looking at it really carefully,
[00:42:09.865]found lots of other problems with this whole approach.
[00:42:12.113]From multiple perspectives.
[00:42:14.424]I'm gonna share that with you tonight.
[00:42:16.646]I'm gonna focus on one study in particular.
[00:42:19.047]This is a study done by Julie Levy, and this is
[00:42:21.614]one of the primary studies that's put out there
[00:42:24.628]as the example of how this does work.
[00:42:27.016]And you're gonna see that we do see a cat decline in here.
[00:42:30.950]That the number of cats does go down.
[00:42:32.968]That's clear. But the devil's in the details, right?
[00:42:37.144]Let me walk you through this.
[00:42:39.289]Immediately, Julie Levy, who, I think I said this,
[00:42:41.575]is at the University of Florida,
[00:42:42.916]immediately adopted out 73 of these cats.
[00:42:45.828]47% of the 155.
[00:42:48.153]That's fantastic. That's exactly what you want to do.
[00:42:52.788]But that's not Trap-Neuter-Return.
[00:42:54.845]That's a different experiment,
[00:42:56.045]so I tossed those out immediately and we start off
[00:42:58.012]with 82 cats because what we're look at
[00:43:00.106]is Trap-Neuter-Return as a way of getting cats
[00:43:02.967]off the landscape.
[00:43:04.691]Immediately 17 of these cats were euthanized,
[00:43:07.628]which should tell you something right there.
[00:43:10.055]That being outdoors as a cat, is not a good thing.
[00:43:13.031]They carry a variety of diseases.
[00:43:14.665]They get a variety of diseases.
[00:43:15.879]Feline leukemia, a whole bunch of things.
[00:43:18.203]That responsible vet, whoever it was, euthanized at least 17
[00:43:22.660]of these cats immediately.
[00:43:25.035]Ten were found dead, so they died a natural attrition.
[00:43:29.441]6 killed by cars, and then 4 they couldn't even assign
[00:43:33.439]the cause of mortality.
[00:43:35.278]So ten animals were found dead.
[00:43:38.496]This is what I love, 32 were lost.
[00:43:41.651]32 were lost?
[00:43:42.775]These were non-native, invasive predators, on the landscape,
[00:43:45.788]they're watching this, this is a study,
[00:43:48.432]and, by the way, they didn't even talk about
[00:43:51.408]how they counted the animals, and for those of you
[00:43:53.413]who are wildlife biologists, you need to be able
[00:43:55.673]to demonstrate how you're counting.
[00:43:57.397]The cats were incredibly difficult to count.
[00:44:00.156]32 were lost.
[00:44:01.701]You probably also know that when an animal is hit by a car
[00:44:04.383]it typically doesn't just lie dead on the road.
[00:44:06.720]Sometimes it does, but many times when an animal is hit
[00:44:09.236]or is injured, it runs.
[00:44:11.407]It runs off the road.
[00:44:12.723]And then it bleeds out somewhere. Hemorraghes.
[00:44:15.698]It's not a humane way for that animal to die.
[00:44:18.827]Or these animals took off
[00:44:20.028]and set up colonies elsewhere.
[00:44:23.757]They never actually even talked about
[00:44:24.894]how many animals were actually sterilized
[00:44:26.899]in this colony.
[00:44:29.325]After 11 years, 11 years these cats were on the landscape,
[00:44:33.182]23 were remaining so yeah, there's a decline from 82 to 23
[00:44:38.252]after 11 years, but over those 11 years, and they also
[00:44:41.534]didn't report this, those cats were all still continuing
[00:44:43.348]to impact local wildlife.
[00:44:46.413]I actually gave this talk on a webinar in the fall
[00:44:48.571]to a global veterinarian group.
[00:44:51.470]There were people on this call from all over the place
[00:44:53.220]and Julie Levy was actually on the call
[00:44:56.093]and she said "Pete, how can you say that this is not
[00:44:59.184]"a success, there was a clear decline."
[00:45:01.317]And I'm scratching my head because I'm looking
[00:45:03.092]at the details and thinking this is not a humane way
[00:45:05.237]to treat any animal out there in the...
[00:45:08.251]And she said, "Well besides, we're down to ten now,
[00:45:11.061]"after 27 years."
[00:45:13.117]Down to ten? I mean, the math doesn't even work.
[00:45:15.352]Down to ten. 27 years there's still this cat colony.
[00:45:19.728]Doesn't make sense to me.
[00:45:21.061]So yeah, there's been a decline,
[00:45:23.098]but the devil's in the details here.
[00:45:25.039]It is not a humane way for the animals to persist,
[00:45:27.811]and the impacts in wildlife continue.
[00:45:31.080]One of the most challenging things
[00:45:32.549]the real detail here is that in order
[00:45:35.639]for the population eventually to decline,
[00:45:38.525]you need to neuter a minimum of 75% of these cats,
[00:45:42.727]but more like 90%.
[00:45:44.451]And for those of you, who like me, study the population
[00:45:47.159]of animals in a particular plot, then you try to catch
[00:45:49.304]as many of your animals as you can
[00:45:51.348]and I spent countless, I'm embarrassed to say how many
[00:45:54.285]hours and days I've spent trying to catch my animals.
[00:45:57.095]I still rarely get 75% of my animals captured.
[00:46:00.160]And these are like dumb birds.
[00:46:01.590]Catching a really smart, invasive predator like a cat
[00:46:04.272]is not an easy thing to do.
[00:46:05.907]It is hard to expect a citizen out there who's not
[00:46:08.257]a biologist to go out there and catch that many cats.
[00:46:11.398]It rarely happens.
[00:46:13.544]As I've said, it's inhumane to leave them outside.
[00:46:16.072]They're hit by cars they're taken by predators,
[00:46:18.499]coyotes, they get all kinds of diseases.
[00:46:21.148]It's been interesting because a lot of these eagle cams
[00:46:23.518]that are now being put out there are showing
[00:46:26.201]that almost every one of them actually has eagles
[00:46:29.220]feeding cats to their eaglets.
[00:46:31.595]Now they could be roadkill, that the eagles are getting,
[00:46:33.843]but in some cases they're not.
[00:46:35.184]In either case, it's not humane.
[00:46:38.619]And immigration continues in these colonies
[00:46:40.382]which makes it difficult to stay ahead of that 75%
[00:46:44.226]If after 27 years she has 10 cats left,
[00:46:47.036]they're continuing to get cats dumped into that colony.
[00:46:52.412]Said, that. Cats continue to kill.
[00:46:54.647]The other point is that it's not even
[00:46:56.486]scratching the surface.
[00:46:57.827]If we've got, let's say we've got 30 million cats out there.
[00:47:00.432]That's a low number, right?
[00:47:01.991]The cat groups have had a campaign of trying
[00:47:04.800]to neuter one million cats over five years.
[00:47:08.695]That's 200,000 neutered cats a year, right?
[00:47:13.321]Say they get a million of these cats
[00:47:15.209]and our number's down to 29 million cats.
[00:47:17.878]Let's give them some credit.
[00:47:19.321]Let's say we're down to, they've got 10 million cats
[00:47:21.045]already neutered, and they neuter another million
[00:47:23.638]that leaves us at 19, let's say half of those
[00:47:26.026]are female, we'll say they're even 10 million
[00:47:27.609]in female cats that are still in reproductive condition
[00:47:30.869]They are producing two to three litters a year
[00:47:32.973]multiple kittens per year,
[00:47:34.838]the numbers are growing exponentially
[00:47:37.877]These folks are not even scratching the surface.
[00:47:40.329]This is an environmental disaster that continues to occur.
[00:47:43.880]And these folks are pretending to put a bandaid on it
[00:47:46.345]and it's not even a bandaid.
[00:47:48.235]The bleeding is continuing.
[00:47:50.189]And how are we evaluating this?
[00:47:52.219]Why are we only thinking about the cats?
[00:47:54.646]We need to think about the whole ecosystem.
[00:47:56.791]From a human perspective as well
[00:47:58.311]as the wildlife perspective.
[00:48:00.035]This is a, what's known as a one-health sort of a deal.
[00:48:04.301]It's not just about the cats.
[00:48:06.306]That is ridiculous.
[00:48:09.128]All that being said, folks, we have an ecological dilemma
[00:48:12.678]on our hands.
[00:48:13.511]We have a real problem and we need to find a way
[00:48:15.744]out of this and it is a problem between humans.
[00:48:18.847]It is trying to figure out and negotiate this.
[00:48:21.414]About, with people who are on different sides
[00:48:23.164]of this coin.
[00:48:25.373]I don't have all the answers, I really don't.
[00:48:28.553]But when I think of the solutions and trying
[00:48:31.592]to make progress here, what I, what occurs to me is that
[00:48:34.632]the landscape is not created equal when it comes to
[00:48:37.940]how important it is for biodiversity,
[00:48:40.647]or the risks associated with exposure to humans.
[00:48:44.453]Elementary schools, for example.
[00:48:45.845]We shouldn't have cat colonies on elementary schools.
[00:48:48.310]But you know what? We do.
[00:48:49.766]We have TNR colonies at elementary schools.
[00:48:52.231]And they're dumping in the sand boxes
[00:48:54.159]and et cetera, et cetera.
[00:48:55.883]I still, I think we're gonna have to live
[00:48:58.424]with TNR in some places.
[00:49:00.008]I don't want to, but if we're gonna do it, we're gonna
[00:49:02.307]allow it to persist, if I'm gonna offer that olive branch,
[00:49:05.283]it has to be in low impact areas.
[00:49:07.594]And it has to be in areas where wildlife biologists say
[00:49:11.515]this is an okay area.
[00:49:12.984]If we put them there, if we allow them to persist,
[00:49:15.704]we have to confirm that they have no impact,
[00:49:18.373]we have to insure that there's maximum sterilization,
[00:49:21.195]and vaccination, and we have to make sure
[00:49:23.520]they're counted properly.
[00:49:25.078]If at any time those things are not happening,
[00:49:27.862]then we have to reevaluate the persistence
[00:49:29.663]of that population in that area.
[00:49:32.344]At the same time, however,
[00:49:34.605]in the high priority conservation areas
[00:49:37.466]we have to have a zero tolerance policy.
[00:49:40.186]I will tell you that every town, every city, every state
[00:49:43.366]has these areas, and there are cats on them,
[00:49:46.495]in most of these areas.
[00:49:47.823]In many of these areas.
[00:49:49.087]The entire state of Hawaii should be zero cat,
[00:49:52.638]but there are tons and tons of cats there.
[00:49:55.115]That has to be zero tolerance.
[00:49:57.542]There's just no if, ands, and buts about it.
[00:49:59.521]If we're gonna offer you a solution and provide you areas
[00:50:03.033]where you can do this in low impact areas,
[00:50:06.098]then these high priority conservation areas
[00:50:08.193]there is no cats, whatsoever.
[00:50:09.789]What are we gonna do with those cats?
[00:50:11.003]Well, we can adopt out as many as we can.
[00:50:13.404]If you can adopt them out, that's great.
[00:50:15.102]We'll adopt them out.
[00:50:16.022]Julie Levy showed that she adopted out 47%, early on.
[00:50:19.751]I don't think the rates are gonna be that high.
[00:50:21.500]Most of the older cats are truly wildcats, they are not
[00:50:23.965]adoptable, and that's a problem.
[00:50:26.609]Some of these kittens can be, but the older cats
[00:50:28.410]are not adoptable.
[00:50:30.159]It's a problem.
[00:50:31.756]Some people suggest that we can create cat sanctuaries.
[00:50:34.718]These do exist in a few places.
[00:50:36.724]There hundreds, sometimes thousands of cats
[00:50:38.358]that are in these enclosures that are fed
[00:50:40.938]and they're indoors and outdoors.
[00:50:43.135]If you want to do that, that's fine.
[00:50:45.421]But folks if you want to contain 30 or 60 or 100 million
[00:50:49.635]cats we're gonna have to fence in
[00:50:51.231]the entire state of Nebraska and I really don't think
[00:50:53.173]Nebraskans want to have that many cats
[00:50:56.634]in the state of Nebraska.
[00:50:59.188]Do the math, there's a lot of cats out there.
[00:51:01.576]What does that leave us with?
[00:51:03.045]That really leaves us with that uncomfortable solution
[00:51:07.617]There's no other way around it.
[00:51:09.864]We're not comfortable with this topic.
[00:51:12.291]We're not comfortable with it in terms
[00:51:14.615]of our own mortality and we're certainly not comfortable
[00:51:17.118]when making that decision when it comes to other animals.
[00:51:20.388]Many responsible veterinarians would tell you
[00:51:23.108]this is the most responsible thing to do in this situation.
[00:51:27.131]Most wildlife professionals will tell you,
[00:51:29.008]this is the most responsible thing to do in this situation.
[00:51:33.606]It's difficult, it's not an easy thing,
[00:51:36.032]but done humanely, this is really what we have to do
[00:51:38.753]to solve this problem.
[00:51:40.260]It's not a comfortable conversation, but we have to have it.
[00:51:42.890]We just have to.
[00:51:45.023]And this is where people have gotten into
[00:51:47.539]the most heated conversation.
[00:51:49.263]It's a life or death sort of a debate.
[00:51:51.741]People refuse to think, and I understand.
[00:51:53.912]Cats, again, as I've said, make wonderful pets.
[00:51:56.900]But they do what they do.
[00:51:58.152]They're a non-native, invasive predator.
[00:52:01.753]We do have this significant dilemma going on.
[00:52:06.210]But folks, I'm hopeful.
[00:52:07.654]We've seen some amazing things change over the years.
[00:52:10.387]We've solved the DDT problem.
[00:52:12.596]We now, I mean, I would never have guessed
[00:52:14.550]we would have stopped smoking in most bars.
[00:52:16.734]But it was a problem that we've gotten rid of.
[00:52:18.330]We've stopped that problem.
[00:52:19.454]We've dealt with these dilemmas in the past
[00:52:21.600]and we've pushed against the tide.
[00:52:22.685]We can't let the weight of the issue stop us
[00:52:25.610]from moving this forward.
[00:52:27.449]I now see people walking, more and more people
[00:52:29.658]walking cats on leashes.
[00:52:31.255]I see more and more of these catios coming up
[00:52:34.383]all over the place.
[00:52:36.133]I'm hopeful that we're gonna deal with these problems
[00:52:39.185]and science and information,
[00:52:40.424]if it gets out there to the right people,
[00:52:43.017]and people stand up for this issue,
[00:52:44.894]will solve this problem like we've solved
[00:52:46.210]so many other problems in the past.
[00:52:48.112]Thank you very much.
[00:52:53.103][Woman] The question is, what is the life expectancy of cats
[00:52:55.712]owned, versus unowned?
[00:52:58.560]In general, what we think is that owned cats
[00:53:01.229]live twice as long as unowned cats.
[00:53:04.754]Unowned cats, I've heard range of five to seven years.
[00:53:08.139]Owned cats can typically live ten,
[00:53:10.514]I've heard of cats living as long as 15 years,
[00:53:12.404]I'm not sure of the average for owned cats,
[00:53:14.281]but in general it's twice as long as unowned cats,
[00:53:21.395][Woman] Another question from the audience.
[00:53:24.383]Are cats the only carriers of Toxoplasma gondii?
[00:53:28.930]Not just domestic cats, but mountain lions, bobcats,
[00:53:33.400]there are a variety of wildcats that carry
[00:53:35.622]different strains of Toxoplasma gondii,
[00:53:37.589]but because cats are so common in the environment
[00:53:40.386]because their densities are so high, they are the
[00:53:42.403]primary contributor to oocysts being
[00:53:45.187]in the environment.
[00:53:46.375]There was a reservoir that became totally infected
[00:53:49.351]with Toxoplasma gondii in Vancouver.
[00:53:51.599]There've been several reservoirs that have become
[00:53:53.348]infected with Toxoplasma gondii because of cats,
[00:53:55.864]but in Vancouver there were cougars
[00:53:57.614]as well as domestic cats and both contributed
[00:54:00.436]to this Toxoplasma reservoir problem
[00:54:03.680]and many people got sick living around the reservoir
[00:54:05.902]but it as actually in that case it was from both
[00:54:07.409]cougars and from bobcats.
[00:54:09.338]There was a reservoir in Brazil that got totally
[00:54:11.560]infested with oocytes, and that was entirely
[00:54:16.272][Woman] Do foxes, like coyotes, kill cats.
[00:54:20.487]Do what like coyotes?
[00:54:23.846]Foxes and, coyotes are definitely major predators
[00:54:26.732]of cats, in fact, we're seeing that some areas
[00:54:29.733]are getting their cats completely wiped out
[00:54:31.521]because coyotes are moving in.
[00:54:33.679]Foxes, I have heard of a couple instances of foxes
[00:54:37.935]I'm sure foxes if it was a small cat, would take it.
[00:54:42.172]Foxes, if it was a small cat, yeah, foxes would kill them.
[00:54:45.748]No question. But coyotes kill a lot of cats.
[00:54:49.017][Woman] When you're doing your modeling, do you consider
[00:54:52.019]mortality of pest bird species like starlings and pigeons
[00:54:56.322]by cats an ecosystem service, and if it is
[00:55:00.333]an ecosystem service, does that balance your evaluation?
[00:55:04.764]When we look at the species in the,
[00:55:07.114]did everyone hear the question?
[00:55:08.710]When we look at the species that are killed
[00:55:10.256]in our model, and we didn't really keep,
[00:55:11.558]we don't really keep track of species because
[00:55:13.436]in many of those studies they didn't keep track
[00:55:15.032]of those species, but the majority of species
[00:55:17.050]that are killed by cats are actually native species.
[00:55:20.894]Cats don't really kill that many rats
[00:55:23.206]in urban ecosystems even though people are now
[00:55:25.351]putting out and using this as an excuse
[00:55:26.845]to put out more colonies.
[00:55:28.186]They call them working cats or blue collar cats.
[00:55:31.034]They're not actually killing that many rodents
[00:55:34.291]and there have been several good studies
[00:55:35.124]that actually show that cats, they'll take
[00:55:36.270]the small rats but they actually don't take very many
[00:55:38.761]of the very big, big rats.
[00:55:41.328]So, no, I do not consider that they're
[00:55:43.333]an ecosystem service at all.
[00:55:44.533]And most of the non-native birds are really
[00:55:46.551]not causing that many problems.
[00:55:49.220]So it's not really an ecosystem service.
[00:55:54.443][Woman] How much do you believe the government
[00:55:57.901]should play a role in addressing the problem of the cats?
[00:56:04.022]I think the government should take a leading role
[00:56:05.733]in addressing the problem with cats, at multiple levels.
[00:56:09.514]Both city, state, and federal.
[00:56:12.464]Certainly on federal lands, the US government, I would say,
[00:56:15.988]and I'm not speaking as, I'm actually a federal employee,
[00:56:20.152]but I'm not speaking as part of my federal position on this,
[00:56:24.481]but I do think the federal government,
[00:56:26.282]US Fish and Wildlife Service, should take a formal stance
[00:56:29.232]on this issue.
[00:56:30.394]If you don't know this, the US Fish and Wildlife does not
[00:56:32.693]have a formal stance on this issue.
[00:56:35.081]The CDC will encourage people to keep their cats inside,
[00:56:37.750]but that's it.
[00:56:39.181]I feel like states and cities should take a formal stance
[00:56:43.497]They've shied away from it because of the controversy
[00:56:45.809]and because they haven't understood the consequences.
[00:56:50.330][Woman] There are two questions about euthanasia.
[00:56:53.267]One wants to know what are the more humane euthanasia
[00:56:57.546]techniques for feral cats, and the other question is
[00:57:02.079]where are we as a country when it comes
[00:57:04.902]to euthanizing unowned cats, is this trending upwards
[00:57:09.704]as an approach?
[00:57:11.543]First question was, sorry.
[00:57:13.343][Woman] What's the best technique?
[00:57:14.378]The best technique.
[00:57:15.211]If you have a cat in the hand, the best technique
[00:57:17.839]is an injection of sodium pentobarbital.
[00:57:20.112]That's how most veterinarians euthanize animals
[00:57:23.841]and they will tell you it is simply the cat
[00:57:25.680]going to sleep.
[00:57:26.513]Takes just a matter of seconds and the cat will
[00:57:29.116]go to sleep fairly rapidly.
[00:57:31.108]It's a painless, humane way for an animal to die.
[00:57:34.007]The problem is that it's very difficult to actually
[00:57:37.072]catch most cats.
[00:57:38.745]Takes a lot of effort to catch most cats,
[00:57:40.763]so it gets into a much more difficult situation.
[00:57:43.560]And I didn't tell you this, but the government
[00:57:45.016]of Australia actually has taken the cat situation
[00:57:48.336]very, very seriously and they have basically said,
[00:57:51.989]"We're gonna kill or cull two million cats
[00:57:54.505]"in Australia over the next few years."
[00:57:57.863]They are working very hard to develop a variety
[00:58:00.328]of techniques to try to euthanize feral cats
[00:58:03.713]because they know feral cats there are actually causing
[00:58:06.165]species to go to extinction and they're expecting
[00:58:08.642]two or three species to go extinct in the next five years
[00:58:11.069]because of cats.
[00:58:12.831]They're developing a variety of techniques to do this
[00:58:15.092]with free living cats to avoid capturing them.
[00:58:17.659]They're not working.
[00:58:18.782]It is a big problem.
[00:58:20.341]Killing cats, euthanizing cats in the numbers
[00:58:23.853]that we have to do it is a very challenging thing
[00:58:26.483]and governments and scientists that are really working
[00:58:28.782]on this don't have all the solutions.
[00:58:30.787]We don't have all the solutions, it's that simple.
[00:58:32.984]It's not that easy.
[00:58:34.210]In terms of trending, we're not doing euthanasia
[00:58:36.636]and we have never done euthanasia.
[00:58:38.578]One of the criticisms I always get from cat people
[00:58:41.311]is that we tried the euthanasia route and it doesn't work.
[00:58:44.325]Fact of the matter is that we did it here and there,
[00:58:46.751]we did it sporadically, but we haven't taken it on
[00:58:48.846]as a real, designed experiment or designed approach
[00:58:53.175]to making sure we're getting cats off of this
[00:58:55.653]national park or getting cats off of this...
[00:58:57.568]We've never done that, so to say it hasn't worked
[00:58:59.637]doesn't make sense.
[00:59:01.629]We don't have any national estimates to really know
[00:59:03.979]what's going on out there and most of what's being done
[00:59:07.466]behind the scenes is really working.
[00:59:11.450][Woman] Couple questions about Toxoplasma gondii.
[00:59:18.002]Can cats that are walked or have catios still contract
[00:59:25.524]Keeping cats indoors minimizes the risk,
[00:59:27.516]but it doesn't guarantee the risk.
[00:59:28.810]If you're walking outside and you can get oocysts
[00:59:32.121]on your feet, your soles of your feet, your shoes,
[00:59:34.595]and bring it inside, but the risks are minimal.
[00:59:37.784]You're minimizing risk.
[00:59:38.862]We minimize risks in everything that we do.
[00:59:41.442]When you walk your cat outside, there's still a chance
[00:59:44.456]that the cat could be exposed, but hopefully it's not
[00:59:47.023]gonna prey on a rodent that's been infected
[00:59:49.041]or a bird that's been infected, exposing itself once again,
[00:59:52.093]or for the first time to Toxoplasma gondii.
[00:59:56.154]The risks are minimal.
[00:59:59.041][Woman] How do humans know if they have Toxoplasma gondii
[01:00:03.012]and is there a treatment?
[01:00:04.685]Humans can develop a variety of symptoms.
[01:00:07.802]Most of us will not develop symptoms that we recognize,
[01:00:11.263]the typical fever, things like that for some people
[01:00:13.663]that might have a compromised immune system
[01:00:15.605]will develop a much more significant symptoms
[01:00:18.491]and they may go away or they may not.
[01:00:20.292]You can go to your doctor and your doctor will do
[01:00:22.335]an antibody test and then will give you
[01:00:24.889]a variety of antibiotics which can reduce the symptoms
[01:00:27.980]but it is a lifelong illness you never get rid
[01:00:30.534]of Toxoplasma gondii.
[01:00:32.169]People thought for years that the oocysts were inert
[01:00:34.978]after they lodged in your brain or lodged wherever they are,
[01:00:38.912]but we now know that that's not necessarily true,
[01:00:41.121]that you're still responding to those oocysts
[01:00:44.033]and forms of endocrine responses, you're secreting
[01:00:47.277]a variety of hormones.
[01:00:49.333]We also know that the cysts sometimes move
[01:00:50.815]and then they cause ocular Toxoplasma bursts,
[01:00:53.739]that's what I showed you that picture of, that eye.
[01:00:56.012]That can happen at any time so again,
[01:00:59.229]when you go to your eye doctor, ask them how often
[01:01:02.091]they see evidence of Toxoplasma gondii scars
[01:01:06.025]and you'll be, you might be surprised.
[01:01:08.630]Often times when I give these talks a few people
[01:01:11.153]will come up to me and they'll tell me about their
[01:01:12.890]personal experiences with Toxoplasma gondii.
[01:01:15.764]One person, I gave a talk in Madison, Wisconsin,
[01:01:17.769]and they showed me the scar on their eye.
[01:01:19.595]And another, I won't tell you all the stories,
[01:01:21.358]but it's amazing how many people have had
[01:01:23.865]first hand experience with being exposed and being infected
[01:01:27.159]with Toxoplasma gondii.
[01:01:30.084][Woman] This person would like to know if you have
[01:01:32.725]any information on the bird populations
[01:01:34.717]for the Cat Island off the coast of Japan?
[01:01:38.472]I do not.
[01:01:39.889]Is that the island that's covered in cats, crawling in cats?
[01:01:43.835][Woman] Tashirojima, Japan.
[01:01:46.262]15 people, over 100 cats on a very small island.
[01:01:49.391]Yeah, I'm guessing there are very few birds
[01:01:51.830]on the island but I've seen pictures of that island.
[01:01:55.598]There are a few islands like that in Asia,
[01:01:59.442]It's not a good thing. I don't want to go there.
[01:02:05.320]Bob, do you want to go there?
[01:02:06.888][Woman] Do you know of any stories of people
[01:02:10.017]who have tried to get a city ordinance restricting cats
[01:02:13.453]to indoors, any success stories?
[01:02:16.339]There are a few success, I know of lots of stories,
[01:02:19.161]most of them are failures, unfortunately.
[01:02:21.269]There was just a story, Ann Arundel County in Maryland
[01:02:23.657]just had a big hearing on this.
[01:02:25.636]One of the biggest problems with this is
[01:02:28.063]the cat people are incredibly organized.
[01:02:30.157]The cat people have frankly been brilliant
[01:02:32.405]in their campaign at making sure that cats
[01:02:35.253]can stay outside.
[01:02:36.543]In part because they've got millions and million
[01:02:38.382]of dollars to back them up, from pet food companies,
[01:02:41.077]from simple campaigns that are put forward because
[01:02:44.039]people hear save cats, save animals, love animals,
[01:02:48.471]These are brilliant campaign ads that have really been
[01:02:52.660]used in great ways so they've raised tons and tons
[01:02:56.290]The US Humane Society which is a 130 million dollar
[01:02:58.764]a year organization supports TNR, it's a giant organization
[01:03:02.557]although their executive director just resigned
[01:03:04.652]for sexual harassment, Me Too, yeah, thank you.
[01:03:10.600]That is one of the problems, then there are
[01:03:12.034]a few successful areas.
[01:03:12.867]I'm just hearing stories about Nebraska being,
[01:03:15.431]perhaps a great case of where they do take it seriously.
[01:03:20.360]Where there's, I think in, somebody was telling me,
[01:03:21.929]in Omaha, the Humane Society there is an open admission
[01:03:24.907]shelter where they do tell people you should not
[01:03:27.130]be letting your cats outside and you must license them.
[01:03:29.914]I met somebody today who manages a local park
[01:03:32.264]who has full permission to deal with cats on that park
[01:03:35.521]and it is supported by their superiors.
[01:03:37.883]In many cases on federal property and state properties
[01:03:41.063]the people that work there understand the problem.
[01:03:43.004]they deal with the problem, but they're not doing it
[01:03:45.048]with authorization, and that's a problem
[01:03:47.232]because they're risking getting in trouble themselves.
[01:03:50.527]In Minnesota it's a felony if you get caught
[01:03:52.583]killing a cat.
[01:03:53.515]Some places it's a misdemeanor.
[01:03:55.329]There are serious consequences of getting caught
[01:03:57.487]doing something to a cat that you don't want to do,
[01:04:00.028]or we shouldn't do.
[01:04:01.625]Putting people in that sort of exposure
[01:04:03.515]is not a good thing.
[01:04:04.600]We need to do this legally.
[01:04:08.049][Woman] There's a couple of questions of trying to break
[01:04:10.408]the disease cycle of Toxoplasma.
[01:04:13.511]One question is, when cats are euthanized,
[01:04:17.164]how can they be disposed of
[01:04:18.620]to avoid putting the disease back in the environment,
[01:04:21.723]and is there a way to filter the disease out of water?
[01:04:28.913]If the cats are euthanized then I would assume
[01:04:30.305]they'd be incinerated.
[01:04:32.387]That would, I think, that's the one thing
[01:04:35.554]oocysts can't persist through, I hope.
[01:04:38.223]If they do I think we're all just screwed.
[01:04:40.777]That'd be bad news.
[01:04:42.527]I don't know, the filtering question is a really good one
[01:04:46.856]and I don't know if it can be filtered.
[01:04:49.947]I don't know the efficacy there I need to look that up
[01:04:52.808]I should check that out.
[01:04:53.944]It's a good question, because there are multiple cases
[01:04:56.741]where entire communities have gotten sick
[01:04:58.172]with Toxoplasma because of the infestation in water.
[01:05:03.076][Woman] The last two questions are very detailed
[01:05:06.881]and really are asking about the scientific methods
[01:05:10.623]behind counting cats and sampling and how can you take
[01:05:15.425]these studies and extrapolate out, and could you just
[01:05:20.253]generally talk a little bit about your methodology
[01:05:23.484]and maybe point these questioners to where they might
[01:05:28.899]find more information about sampling and so forth?
[01:05:32.513]Counting cats is a very, very challenging thing to do.
[01:05:35.387]With owned cats it's fairly easy because you just to out
[01:05:38.528]and you do surveys of people and you hope that people
[01:05:40.074]are giving you the right information, and there are
[01:05:42.653]a variety of ways to make sure you're accounting
[01:05:44.569]for the uncertainty there.
[01:05:46.344]The unowned cat estimate, I would say, is a tricky thing
[01:05:49.545]so we just used a variety of estimates out there
[01:05:51.861]that different groups from both sides have put out there.
[01:05:55.753]In our model, we used the lowest estimate out there
[01:05:58.498]that's put out by the US Humane Society, 30 million.
[01:06:01.449]Our minimum estimate of 1.3 million is basically
[01:06:04.539]based upon that minimum estimate of 30 million.
[01:06:07.809]We didn't go up to 100 million, we went up
[01:06:10.401]to 80 million, which is another estimate that's put out
[01:06:12.406]by a variety of groups, a couple of different groups,
[01:06:14.871]The ASPCA, or the AVMA, these are a variety
[01:06:17.336]of veterinarian and cat groups.
[01:06:19.277]That's where you start to, the model keeps, starts to go up.
[01:06:23.338]The best thing we can possibly do for extrapolating
[01:06:26.991]is use the variety of studies that are out there
[01:06:29.175]that have sufficient sample sizes.
[01:06:30.924]So we, when we include a particular study in our analysis
[01:06:34.858]or to build the model, we make sure they have
[01:06:36.620]a sufficient sample size of cats.
[01:06:38.791]None of the studies that were included had less than,
[01:06:40.707]say, 10 cats in their study.
[01:06:42.559]We tried to use only the most rigorous studies
[01:06:44.972]that lasted for a certain time, that didn't have
[01:06:48.421]really extreme numbers, so a few of these were like,
[01:06:51.728]studies had incredible killer cats in them
[01:06:53.912]that were killing so many...
[01:06:55.509]We decided to toss them out, so we got rid of
[01:06:58.803]We left some of the cats that were, some cats don't kill,
[01:07:01.498]that's just the reality of it.
[01:07:03.171]So we kept in what we felt were very, very conservative
[01:07:06.096]numbers and studies that were estimating the number
[01:07:10.349]of animals that were killed by cats.
[01:07:12.392]We don't have a beautiful plane of distribution of cats
[01:07:16.951]across the landscape, in part because the cat people
[01:07:19.352]don't want us to, frankly.
[01:07:20.948]They don't want to know the exact number of cats out there
[01:07:22.890]and they're not counting cats in a proper way.
[01:07:24.703]Counting cats really requires a capture, recapture study,
[01:07:28.062]primarily done with camera traps.
[01:07:30.118]You cannot census cats, because they have lots
[01:07:32.478]of long periods of inactivity, they're very difficult
[01:07:35.038]to census with traditional methods.
[01:07:36.737]So you have to use an array of camera traps
[01:07:39.130]that actually senses them properly.
[01:07:40.738]People have, I've done, with a master's student,
[01:07:43.359]used both methodologies and the error associated with it
[01:07:48.402]Also, because you've got this patchy distribution,
[01:07:50.177]you've got these solo cats that go out there,
[01:07:52.642]but then you've got these colonies of cats,
[01:07:55.081]it's hard to pick up the colonies versus
[01:07:56.920]the solitary individual.
[01:08:00.624]So you've got this difficult plane out there
[01:08:03.101]that you need to capture.
[01:08:04.468]What we do in science is to do local, intense studies
[01:08:08.516]and then try to extrapolate to larger, spacial areas.
[01:08:12.130]It's what we do. What we try to do.
[01:08:13.854]We try to set bounds into how we do that.
[01:08:16.651]That's how we did it, it's typical scientific method,
[01:08:19.985]and we tried to be as conservative as possible
[01:08:21.862]in the ways we did that.
[01:08:23.969][Woman] I'm going to just do one more question and then
[01:08:26.716]we'll let Pete, we'll thank him and then we'll let him go
[01:08:30.041]sign some more books.
[01:08:32.015]This one has to do with legal liability
[01:08:34.702]and the questioner would like to know, has anyone researched
[01:08:39.478]whether anyone's sued over a cat colony
[01:08:46.195]transmitting diseases to humans, and they were thinking of
[01:08:51.547]the legal risk of having rabies or another disease
[01:08:57.094]from unowned near elementary schools or residential areas.
[01:09:01.373]I'm not familiar with any lawsuits that have been around
[01:09:07.554]We're actually doing a full day symposium on cats
[01:09:09.470]and their impact and we've got two different attorneys,
[01:09:11.539]wildlife attorneys that are actually looking at that issue
[01:09:14.604]There is a lawsuit right now that's in New York state
[01:09:17.538]because the New York state parks is allowing
[01:09:20.169]a feral cat colony to be right next to, on Long Island,
[01:09:23.388]right next to a Piping Plover colony,
[01:09:25.150]so the American Bird Conservancy which is one of the few
[01:09:27.283]organizations out there that's actually taking this
[01:09:30.093]cat issue on, is suing New York State to remove
[01:09:33.898]that cat colony because of their proximity to this,
[01:09:37.474]the Piping Plover colony.
[01:09:40.156]I don't know of any other lawsuits that are out there
[01:09:43.272]that are based on a disease exposure
[01:09:45.827]or a disease risk model.
[01:09:48.751][Woman] Well thank you very much.
[01:09:50.309]You've been very kind to answer all our questions,
[01:09:53.017]and let's give Pete another round of applause.
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