Stray cats pose a serious threat to biodiversity, Spanish scientists warn

The Spanish scientists who sign this document are considered the top specialists in conservation biology. And they defend that stray cats not only threaten the protection of biodiversity but also health (REUTERS)

Stray cats have caused more than a quarter of extinctions contemporary birds, mammals and reptiles worldwide, so they are listed as one of the most damaging invasive predators for the conservation of biodiversity, as well as a threat to public health. so of overwhelming is the content of the article published in the latest issue of the scientific journal Conservation Science and Practice by a group of researchers from the Pablo de Olavide University of Seville and the Doñana Biological Station (EBD-CSIC).

The research, based on a study in which experts from the Miguel Hernández University of Elche, the Mediterranean Institute for Advanced Studies (CSIC-UIB) and the Institute of Natural Products and Agrobiology (CSIC) have also participated, indicates that feral cat predation is the leading cause of small mammal and bird mortality, ahead of road kill, poisoning or human hunters. For this reason, they criticize the proposal to protect the colonies of stray cats contained in the preliminary draft of Animal Protection, Rights and Welfare Act approved last February in the Council of Ministers of Spain.

Regarding the proposal also contained in the Law to give a official status to the people who care for them voluntarily providing them with water and food, the article points out that, Contrary to what is usually thought, that a cat is well fed does not mean that it does not continue with its predatory activity, because it is shown that stray cats they not only hunt for their need for foodwhich together with their abundance ends up making them the main predators of the environment in which they act.

According to the signatories of the brief, the new bill pays special attention to cat colonies, that is, groups of cats without an owner that are maintained thanks to the continued supply of food and other care (REUTERS)
According to the signatories of the brief, the new bill pays special attention to cat colonies, that is, groups of cats without an owner that are maintained thanks to the continued supply of food and other care (REUTERS)

“Cats are top predators. They can consume different types of prey depending on the density of these animals in their territory. Yes ok being well fed does not inhibit predatory behavior, hunger exacerbates it. Another risk of an excessive number of cats on public roads are the infectious diseases for other cats but also for people, for example, some endoparasites and rabies”, he explained to Infobae the clinical ethologist Silvia Vay.

“The current approach to wellness is an integrative approach thate encompasses human welfare, animal welfare and environmental welfare. The scientific article says that We must not favor the installation of these colonies of stray cats, since it is detrimental to human, environmental and animal well-being”, The veterinarian and specialist in clinical ethology explained to this medium Maria Virginia Ragau.

Is that the stray cats they not only pose a great threat to biodiversity, but also act as vectors of diseases due to the high density of individuals in their colonies and the interactions between these and cats with owner. Thus, it is proven that feral cats were the source of the outbreak of feline leukemia that was about to wipe out the population of Doñana lynxes -a Spanish protected natural area located in the provinces of Huelva, Seville and Cádiz, Andalusia- in 2007 and are the reservoir of Toxoplasma gondii, a parasite that can generate toxoplasmosis Therefore, it poses a threat to public health.

The specialists suggest that, to guarantee animal welfare, the law should focus exclusively on the protection of companion animals, avoiding conflict with international standards and strategies for nature conservation. Although they acknowledge that wildlife management can sometimes trigger ethical challengesprioritizing the welfare and fate of individuals of a few species over the conservation of global biodiversity would promote impoverished and homogeneous biological communitiesdominated by a handful of privileged animals.

“It would be positive keep the number of cats on public roads and cattery within certain limits so that it does not affect biodiversity through castration campaigns At the same time, the smallest and those who can quickly adapt to living with a family are given a home. And so gradually limit stray animals, since many of them are not in a state of well-being”, he concluded. Wow.

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