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Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Boycott Cape May?

You might think that Cape May is the birding capitol of the United States. But you would be wrong. Cape May city council has decided to allow feral cats to roam free. Letting cats roam free is bad for the cats, and will result in dead birds. This is what happens when birders allow misguided cat lovers to have a disproportionate say in civic life. 1,500 emails from cat lovers and 50 cat people at a public meeting and this is what we get. Where were the birders? Shame on you Cape May. Enjoy your cat-astrophe!

But here's the good news. No civic action is ever set in stone. Decisions can be overturned. But it will take pressure. Lots of it. If you think Cape May made a bad call here, you might want to do something:

1) leave a comment on the Cape May website.
2) urge the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service to bring action against Cape May for knowingly violating the Migratory Bird Treaty Act and other provisions in place to protect birds (New Jersey is in USFWS Northeast Region 5)
3) email Cape May Mayor Jerome E. Inderwies (
4) spread the word that Cape May needs to clean up its act
5) avoid Cape May until they realize that protecting birds is better for the health of cats, the environment, and business.

Note: I am not anti-cat. I actually like cats. I want them to be inside where they belong, safe from harm. This is not a forum for anti-cat messages. Please be respectful of those who care about cats. Lets help Cape May do the right thing for cats, birds, and people--keep cats inside, don't let them roam, require them to be fixed, licensed, and tagged.

Much as I'm in favor of feeding birds, lets not let this happen to any more cats in Cape May:


Anonymous said...

How dare you attack the Holy Shrine of East Coast birding! The Temple of Dunne! Don't mess with the 61st Annual Cape May Autumn Weekend.

birdchaser said...

I'm not attacking Cape May. It is the Cape May city council that has decided that birds and birding is not as important to Cape May as its 100 feral cats. If anyone wants to be offended, be offended by that. I'm just the messenger.

Anonymous said...

Rob - agree with you 100%. How could the Cape May council think allowing a non-native predator to roam the "Holy Shrine of East Coast birding" is anything less than a disaster in the making.

John said...

Can't believe cat lovers have that much power. The decision the city council made is ridiculous. Here's the message I sent:

Cape May is visited by large numbers of bird lovers each year. How many come to see your feral cats? I'm betting somewhere in the vicinity of zero. Cats kill large numbers of birds. Allowing feral cat colonies to proliferate in an area of such importance to migratory birds is a shame and stupid as well. I for one will avoid Cape May as long as local government favors unwanted cats (nobody wants to take them home, right?) over our native birds. There are plenty of communities that value and take pride in their wildlife, places deserving of ecotourism. Too bad Cape May is opting not to be one.

Chris said...

I also sent a comment. I've visited Cape May in the past, but until they revoke this decision, I'm going to go elsewhere.

What bothers me is that a lot of birders live in Cape May--many have retired there. Where were they when that meeting was held?

Say this about the cat people--they show up.

So has the eastern coyote, and I guess that's about the closest thing Cape May has to a feral cat control program now.

Anonymous said...

In my opinion the people who were "for" the feral cats are not true cat-lovers. I'm not a birder (I found this site from Birdchick's post... and I visit her site mostly for the disapproval... of bunnies, that is).

Anyway, even though I'm not a birder, I still don't want to see birds harmed.

I've always been a cat person, and I'd never think of letting my cats roam outside.

Why don't they set up some kind of adoption for these cats? Some of them may be beyond placement, but I'm sure at least a portion of them would be happy in someone's home. I might be put through the ringer for this, but in my opinion, I'd honestly rather see a cat humanely put down, than see it fending for itself outside. Poor things.

Anonymous said...

I read the article. What they are doing is trapping, neutering and releasing. This has been proven to be the most efficient and humane way to reduce the feral cat numbers.

Love the birds but do not forsake the cats.

birdchaser said...

Sorry, but this just isn't true in the least. TNR programs do not help cats, but leave them exposed to the elements, cars, predators, diseases, and other factors that make the life of a feral cat short and brutish. Nobody is helping a cat by letting it live like that. That isn't really saving a cat--just prolonging the day until it inevitably gets maimed or killed. Take a good hard look at the picture on my original post. How many dead cat pictures do I have to put up before we can accept the reality that letting cats outdoors, no matter the noble motive, is really just cat abuse.

Anonymous said...

I am an animal lover- all animals and I live in Cape May.
In the Cape May TNR program cats are released to the "colony" where they were trappped. This colony can be as small as several cats and is monitored/managed by a caregiver. The designated caregivers care about these cats and, yes, do try- if a cat is particualrly friendly to find a home. Homes are sometimes found- even for adult cats. I know this is true because I live in Cape May.
Usually there is a form of outdoor shelter as well. There is nothing cruel about this in Cape May. Cats once they are spay/neutered & have a food source tend not to roam as un-neutered cats do.
It's easy, (I would probably think the same thing if I didn't live in Cape May) to judge this decision of City Caouncil as stupid...because well what about the birds?!
The 3 endangered birds do not nest on Cape May City's beaches. And not because of the cats. There is also a busy arcade , restaurants & shops. There is the beach "grooming" equipment nightly, hoards of people in the summer, radios, along with beach equipment sales. All told, the season really goes from March - November.
The piping plover prefers a completely open sretch of sand from dune line to shoreline. Not something you'll find with all the tourists.
The Black Skimmer nests on sandbars, primarily- again there aren't any in Cape May. Look north for these along the inland waterway or along the bay.
The Least Tern might be seen if blown off-course in a Nor'easter of hurricane.
The City council established some smart well thought out guidelines.
It was not done in haste. It was done with regard for the facts of the matter-for the birds and the cats and the requirements of the relationship between Fish, Game & Wildlife & the Cape May City and with compassion.

Other cities would be so lucky to have such an involved and informed and compassionate populace.

birdchaser said...

I just got a long and detailed anonymous comment defending the Cape May city council decision. Since I think there is more at stake here, I'm going to enforce my No Anonymous Comments policy. I'd be happy to address the issues brought up in this recent comment, but I'm not going to debate an anonymous poster here. Anyone care to chip in, and please do so, but better to leave your name, and if possible, your email so I can know who I'm dealing with. Thanks!

Unknown said...

The online Cape May paper says that the feral cats have been reduced from 400 to 100 over the years, through a privately funded trap, neuter, and release program, in which they also vaccinate and check for other diseases. The article goes on to say that *ALL* friendly cats and kittens are adopted or fostered out -- they are not put back into the colonies.

Cape May's TNR program gives BIRDERS exactly what BIRDERS want - reduced population, reduced disease, a monitoring of the population and its proximity to nesting birds, all accompanied by an active volunteer population with a regular eye on the colonies, and an active hand in the placement of adoptable cats. The only point on which I disagree with the council's decision was the lack of requiring cats to be licensed.

If you don't advocate the TNR program, what DO you advocate? Scooping up all the feral cats and euthanizing them at the already overloaded shelter? That's the option - they are already un-adoptable. All the cute fuzzy ones are already inside.

If the TNR program is abandoned, that means that after Cape May euthanizes 100 cats (at a cost of $16,000), any future cats dumped off in Cape May will go un-monitored, left to breed and create new colonies. And presto, new problem, with a dismantled TNR program, and embittered former volunteers. The original old problem - people who dump cats on the roadside - will sadly continue to exist.

And I'd like to know... what do you have against vultures making a meal out of a dead cat? that's what vultures're there for... to clean up. :)

Anonymous said...

To Birdchaser,

I can appreciate your wanting to know a name from my anonymous comment but since you allowed a previous anonymous comment (not mine) I just assumed you allowed them. No big deal.
Yet after your comments -I wonder why you want my e-mail address ? Isn't this an open forum? Guess not.
I don't want harassing e-mails if my e-mail address is posted. And your comment that you "want to know who you're dealing with" is odd to me. I told you whom you're dealing with. An animal lover, who lives in Cape May & has done TNR work. How else would you like to identify me? I am also a homeowner, a person who holds a job & pays taxes. What else could you want to know?
I like a public dialogue. Nothing personal. It's your choice to not print my comment. There was nothing inappropriate about my comments. So I don't understand why you would print someone else's comment and not mine.

Have you done TNR work? Have you or do you live in Cape May ? All I'm saying is walk in the shoes of the many of us animal lovers in Cape May who know & understand and have seen the benefits of TNR.

And what more do you think "is at stake"? (you wrote in your comment)
The 3 endangered bird varieties were considered in the decision as well as a host of other issues.
But you weren't there at the meeting- it was an open meeting you could have been there.

I never liked debate class in highschool because people often made it personal. I still feel that way. I am coming from the point of view that the issues are what matters, not someone'e e-mail address or other personal info. People can make up a name anyway.

Still anonymous.

Marianne Arkins said...

I'm a cat owner. I'm also a novice birder. My cats live indoors -- proven to be a healthier option, by far, than letting them roam. I've managed to talk friends and family into keeping their cats inside, though some still think that it's cruel to do so. They're wrong -- for the reasons you noted here: disease, cars, cruel people, other predators, hunger and more.

The bird issue aside, those supposed cat lovers did a huge disservice to the very animal they wanted to help.

It's very sad.

birdchaser said...

Here's the bottom line: cats outside kill birds. Its not enough to just "reduce the threat" by reducing numbers. Any cats outside=birds killed.

So cats cannot be allowed to roam. I can appreciate all the efforts that go into TNR. But they still don't get cats out of harms way and don't protect birds. So they are incomplete. If we don't want to euthanize the cats, and I can understand why that isn't popular--I'm not a big fan of putting animals down, myself--then the cats need to be taken where they can't harm birds. Those that can't be adopted should be taken to a property devoid of habitat for native birds and fenced so they can't roam.

Those who argue that this is too expensive still have a choice--animals can be put down if nobody wants to put up the land and money to care for them. I'm not for that, personally. I think those who don't want the cats killed have the responsibility to get them off the streets.

It isn't right for cat lovers to allow cats to roam all over the place. You can't let your dog, horse, cow, or goat roam around your neighborhood. Cats shouldn't be allowed to roam as well.

Lots of issues here. I still haven't allowed a post from an anonymous Cape May cat enthusiast, who refuses to give us a name. But I will address additional concerns brought up by our anonymous commenter next time.

Anonymous said...

A boycott is a good idea... we left some comments on the Cape May site but I doubt they will care much. The boycott is the best idea. When you remove the money, people start to listen.

I really hope the Fish & Wildlife Service files a lawsuit here, even just to make a point. Feral cat enablers are violating the law and this law needs to be enforced.

Anonymous said...

I can't believe you would post a photo like that of a dead cat. Disgusting.
And do your research, the best way to REDUCE the number of free roaming feral cats is to TNR. You can't eliminate the feral cat population, you can only control and reduce the numbers by TNR.
You have a lost a fan today.

birdchaser said...

I had an anonymous poster (remember, I'm not going to post anonymous comments) upset that I put up a photo of a dead cat. The poster argued for TNR and ended by stating "you have lost a fan today".

My response:
1) Anyone who argues that cats should be allowed to roam needs to take a good hard look at what that really means--dead cats. Not cats humanely put down, but cats ground up under cars and disemboweled by vultures. If you don't like that, don't blame me or the photographer. Blame our culture and ignorance that allows cats to roam free and meet this kind of end. Don't shoot the messenger!

2) I did not bring up this issue to be popular. I know that there are closed minds on all sides of this debate. While I know I risk angering lots of folks here, I know that if we can get through all the hysteria we can come up with real solutions to this situation. Not answers that leave cats outside to be maimed and to kill birds, but answers that are good for both birds and cats.

Anonymous said...

I was there at the hearing and spoke against TNR. Prior to the meeting the council had been considering cat licensing. But a comment was made by a Councilmember that this would penalize responsible cat owners. We don't think responsible dog owners are penalized, so go figure. The Mayor made a comment about "microchipping the ear". Suffice it to say, a lot of education is needed about a lot of things. The problem is that if people are doing something, then that is looked upon favorably, whether or not what is being done is making matters better or worse. And as far as I could tell, no birders were present. This was at 10 am in the morning so they were either working, on a birdwalk, or did not know about the hearing.

The City Council has neglected to make natural resources, the environment, or health and welfare a priority. Do tell them so. Write the Mayor, the Solicitor, the Health Dept and encourage the wildlife community to attend these meetings.

And to the blogger who posted that TNR gives birders what they want. This is not the case. Colonies do not get eliminated. Cats that die off are replaced by new ones. The cats are always there and able to predate.

There is no proven reduced risk of disease. There is no proof that TNR works AND the ACO in Cape May can only account for the 88 cats that remain in 28 registered colonies (after 10 years). He has no idea about the overall population of cats in Cape May City. His words - and I appreciate his honesty. I just don't see the benefit of TNR. I only see this method as a way to avoid euthanasia. And given the fact there are a lot of friendlies in these colonies in general, that does not have to be the case.

For more information visit You will find an example of a managed colony in Cape May County that shows some of the negative impact of TNR and how this is not a humane outcome for domestic cats. The example cites David Douglass Park near the ferry.

birdchaser said...

Thanks for the report, Linda. The truth is, most local land use and other environmental decisions are made by people paid to be at meetings and if we want to influence their actions, we have to go to meetings and otherwise become part of the process. Most birders are pretty poor at getting involved to that degree. While I can understand seeing birding as a diversion--a way to relax or escape from the cares of the world--I don't think we can afford that kind of luxury anymore. Thanks for attending the meeting and I hope we can get more folks involved so we can get some change there.

From what I have read, it sounds like the head of the local shelter there is passionately anti-euthanasia, and it sounds like he has a lot of support from the city council. Perhaps the least contentious chance for change is to work with him to come up with other solutions that will keep him from having to kill cats if he's opposed to that.

Susan Gets Native said...

I write this with a heavy sigh. I just got back yesterday from Cape May. I saw quite a few roaming cats.
This is my very biggest pet range cats. I am with you on all of your opinions. TNR doesn't help the birds getting killed by cats who are just doing what they are born to do: hunt. TNR doesn't save a single cat from getting ripped to pieces under tires.
"The Temple of Dunne"....THAT'S funny.

During my education programs (I run the Ed. Dept. at a raptor rescue center) I always get the question: Why is that owl/hawk/etc diving at my cat? My response back: Why is your cat outside? They stutter and spout crap about "controlling the rodents" and so on. I give them the stats on how many mice and rats can be eaten by owls and hawks in a month. I tell my "red-tail" after an RT started hanging out in the yard and suddenly I wasn't catching any mice in the basement anymore. I see a glimmer of change in their eyes. I don't know if I change many minds, but I think I get them thinking. I try.
I'm disappointed in the Cape May resident birders. But I am pissed at irresponsible cat owners worldwide.
I have 4 indoor cats. Three were either adopted from shelters or found outside.
I liked your comment that it is cat abuse. I think I will start using that phrase in my programs.
Thank you for this post. It's needed. Don't listen to anonymous cat "lovers". I get the same thing from righteously indignant house sparrow lovers when I post about why they need to be actively controlled. Keep it up!

Anonymous said...

Bravo for you Rob, I really hope that this picks up steam and that Cape May City Council reverses their ill-thought through decision on TNR's. I've also posted on the subject, hopefully it will make a difference. Unfortunately the threat of reduced tourism revenues won't work in so many other places that have TNR programs.

Perhaps as we continue to try an educate on the problems with outdoor cats change will come. One lives in hope.

jackii said...

I live in a rural area of southern California. Remarkably, even with all the housing divisions, horse facilities, and just old dumpy neigborhoods, there is a wonderful native diversity still existing. As each new neighborhood gets built the dogs, cats and cement, lights etc. continue to spill out into a beautiful diversified area. Dogs and cats are man's friends and thus, should be next to him. They are products of our culture. To be able to still see nature work, to still see some bare bones structure of survival on the hardest hit of mammals is amazing. I don't feed birds, or any wildlife. I try to plant native and just get out of the way so they can continue their struggle. Cats have decimated the wildlife in Hawaii and in most of the world. People often don't see past their preferred "pets." My love for the wild, roaming animals in my neighborhood exceeds or at least equals my love of my pets.

Anonymous said...

Diseases and parasites which feral cats are known to transmit to people.

1)Rabies virus- fatal in humans
2)Psittacosis –bacteria- parrot fever – fever, pneumonia- fatal in humans
3) Campylobacter- bacteria -diarrhea- fatal
4) Ringworm fungus- round, scaly eczema-like skin disease
5) Conjunctivitus (sporotrichosis)- swollen eyes , lymph nodes
6) Streptococcus / Staphlococcus – bacteria, some antibiotic resistant
7) Pasteuralla – bacteria - meningitis, peritonitis, liver abscesses
8) Salmonella- bacteria -can be fatal in humans
9) Cat Scratch Fever- bacteria- fever, swollen lymph nodes, pus filled lumps
10) Helicobacter pylori – bacteria- causes gastric ulcers
11) Mycobacterium tuberculosis – bacteria - tuberculosis- fatal in humans
12) Cowpox Virus- lesions
13) Roundworms- from cat feces – invade liver, lungs , brain , eyes
14) Hookworms- from cat feces- skin lesions, intestinal bleeding
15) Ascarid worms- intestinal worms- invade brain, spinal cord, liver, lungs, blood
16) Tapeworms- from cat feces - solid masses in brain,liver,lungs,
17) Fleas- carry a host of diseases transmitted to people- Lyme disease
18) Ticks- carry a host of diseases transmitted to people –Lyme disease
19) Crytosporidiosis –chronic diarrhea, no cure
20) Giardiasis- from cat feces- protozoan- diarrhea , abdominal cramps , fever
21) Toxoplasmosis – protozoan -brain parasite, transmitted to fetus, brain damaged
22) Skin mites- itchy rashes, viral host
23) Ear mites- itchy rashes- viral host
24) Chiggers- itchy rashes- viral host
25) Feline plague- bubonic plague, pneumonic plague – fatal in humans
26) Capnocytophaga –bacteria – saliva -fatal in humans
27) L-Form bacteria – autoimmune diseases, antibiotic resistant - fatal in humans
28) Strongyloides – worms - parasite, peptic ulcer, gallbladder, Crohn-like, fatal
29) E. coli – bacteria - from cat feces- fatal
30) Bordetella – bacteria , meningitis, pneumonia –like , whooping cough
31) Q Fever- bacteria - heart disease, liver dysfunction, acute fever, fatal
32) Anthrax- bacteria – vomiting, fever, diarrhea fatal in humans

Anonymous said...

If you think the cats are a problem, don't go to Cape May. I looked up their history online; it is a resort beach town. I’m sure we are not their only source of revenue. We may like going there but if the town doesn't see the cats as a problem and according to the anonymous poster actually from Cape May they have done their research and still don’t see a problem;
"The 3 endangered birds do not nest on Cape May City's beaches. And not because of the cats. There is also a busy arcade, restaurants & shops. There is the beach "grooming" equipment nightly, hoards of people in the summer, radios, along with beach equipment sales. All told, the season really goes from March - November.
The piping plover prefers a completely open stretch of sand from dune line to shoreline. Not something you'll find with all the tourists.
The Black Skimmer nests on sandbars, primarily- again there aren't any in Cape May. Look north for these along the inland waterway or along the bay.
The Least Tern might be seen if blown off-course in a Nor'easter of hurricane.
The City council established some smart well thought out guidelines.
It was not done in haste. It was done with regard for the facts of the matter-for the birds and the cats and the requirements of the relationship between Fish, Game & Wildlife & the Cape May City and with compassion."

Its people supposedly run America and the people of this town are obviously saying to keep the cats. ("1,500 emails from cat lovers and 50 cat people at a public meeting and this is what we get.")

What gives us the right to tell them how to live? I love bird watching but I love it because I love nature. I’m not about to walk in to someone else’s hometown and tell them to get rid of their “pets” because I think I know what’s best for them in their town, based on what’s best for me in mine. I will just continue down the east coast without their town. It’s not that big of a deal.

If the people who actually live in this town don't want to change their town shouldn't we, as visitors, respect their wishes.

What makes one animal takes precedence over another animal?

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