The hazards of free-roaming felines
I had the back door open Monday during lunch and heard a hummer buzz by. Obviously, the neighborhood hummingbirds have yet to start their migration South.
My wife and I enjoy feeding the hummers in summer. So does a neighbor, who sets out a variety of food for various species that sing from the many trees around us.
A new study published in the peer-reviewed public health journal Zoonoses and Public Health has found that free-roaming cats pose a threat to wildlife and also “serious public health diseases” to humans and domestic animals.
Reading a story about the study on the American Bird Conservancy’s website, I’m reminded that Cheryl and I arrived home the other night in time to see a loose cat darting into our front shrubs.
Authors of the paper were R.W. Gerhold of the University of Tennessee’s Center for Wildlife Health, Department of Forestry, Wildlife and Fisheries, and D.A. Jessup, a California Department of Fish and Game retiree.
Among the key findings are that free-roaming cats are an important source of animal-transmitted, serious diseases such as rabies, toxoplasmosis and plague.
The study also says trap, neuter, and release programs (such as those advocated by the Rock County Humane Society) may lead to increased, un-inoculated populations of cats that can serve as sources of transmittable serious diseases.
The city of Janesville has an ordinance against letting your pet cat roam free, but many people ignore it. Will this report give any of these pet lovers pause? I doubt it.