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  • Sallie Rhodes

Kitty Post: PURRedator

Cats are both predators and prey, but they have a reputation for being lethal towards birds and small mammals. However, when it comes to blaming feral or free-roaming cats for declining bird populations, the facts do not support the claim. Avian populations are being most impacted by human activity above predation.

Birds are equipped with anatomical skills to evade their natural predators. Since they are not easy to catch, predatory cats target weak or injured birds and small mammals. Humans, rather than cats, are responsible for the changing environment resulting in the loss of natural habitat, spread of mosquito-borne diseases, and the introduction of food-chain toxins, micro-plastic and lead contamination, and pesticide usage. Additionally, millions of birds die annually from fractured skulls when they fly into glass windows.

Our environmental impact is monumental and trumps the predatory/prey relationship that exists between cats, birds, and small mammals. To help birds, environmental and conservation efforts must become more widespread. Furthermore, TNR (trap, neuter, return) programs reduce feral cat populations by sterilizing and vaccinating the feline community. Oftentimes, cats are successfully trapped by their volunteer caretakers who feed them regularly. So, there is no reason for bird-enthusiasts to oppose TNR groups who regularly feed ferals because this activity results in a substantially reduced cat population.

Beltsville Community Cats is contributing to a better environment through the care and management of feral and free-roaming cats. As a volunteer organization, it needs donations to cover veterinary expenses and pet food required to operate. Tax-deductible donations may be mailed to Beltsville Community Cats, P.O. Box 942, Beltsville, MD 20704. Follow our work on Instagram @beltsville_Cats and view adoptable cats and kittens. To volunteer or report feral cats, call 240.444.8353 or email

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