• Beltsville News

Kitty Post January 2022: The Truth About Community Cats and Birds By Sallie Rhodes

Updated: Jan 30


Although cats are both predators and prey, they have a reputation for being lethal towards birds and small mammals. The truth is, when it comes to blaming free-roaming, community cats for declining bird populations, the facts do not support the claim. Avian populations are impacted much more by human activity than by predatory cats.

Birds are equipped with anatomical skills to evade their natural predators. Since they are not easy to catch, predatory cats target the 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, 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. At the same time, humane methods, including trapping, neutering, vaccinating, and returning (TNVR) adult cats and rescuing young kittens need to be employed to control and reduce the population of free-roaming, community cats.

Beltsville Community Cats (BCC) has been successfully using humane strategies such as these for almost 3 years now. As of December 1, 2021, BCC volunteers have trapped just under 900 cats and kittens (457 were released to field and 433 were taken into foster homes, socialized to people, spayed/neutered, vaccinated, and adopted into forever homes). There is significant evidence that BCC’s efforts have had a positive impact on the free-roaming cat population in Beltsville. Consequently, we see no reason for bird-enthusiasts to oppose TNVR groups like BCC.

As an all-volunteer organization, BCC needs your help. If you see free-roaming cats in your neighborhood or if you would like to volunteer for BCC, please call 240-444-8353 or email hello@beltsvillecats.net. We currently need more foster homes. BCC is always in need of donations to cover the cost of spay/neuter surgeries and vaccinations. Tax-deductible donations can be mailed to BCC, PO Box 942, Beltsville MD 20704, or you can visit BCC’s website and donate through PayPal or Venmo (https://www.beltsvillecats.net/donate). View the cats/kittens BCC has available for adoption at https://www.petfinder.com/member/us/md/beltsville/beltsville-community-cats-md506/.

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