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New Campaign to Protect Cats and Wildlife

Mar 25, 2008

Date: March 25, 2008
Bob Sallinger, Conservation Director, Audubon Society of Portland
Phone: (503) 292-9501 ext. 122
E-mail: bsallinger@audubonportland.org

Karen Kraus, Executive Director, Feral Cat Coalition of Oregon
Phone: 503-797-2606
E-mail: kkraus@feralcats.com

The Audubon Society of Portland and the Feral Cat Coalition of Oregon are teaming up on a new campaign to encourage Oregonians not to allow their cats to roam free in the environment. Free-roaming cats kill tens of thousands of birds each year in the Portland Metro Area and are one of the primary causes of cat overpopulation. Both organizations encourage cat owners to house cats indoors, in outside enclosures, or to walk cats on a leash. It is good cats and it is good for wildlife!

It is not about birds versus cats; it is about protecting birds and cats.

Audubon Society of Portland has been advocating for the protection of native birds since 1902. Cat predation is consistently the leading cause of injury for wild animals treated at Audubon’s Wildlife Car accounting for nearly 40% of intakes. The Feral Cat Coalition of Oregon (FCCO) has been conducting spay and neuter clinics for feral cats since 1995. During that time the Coalition has spayed and neutered more than 32,000 feral cats. This new partnership recognizes that treating cat-caught wildlife and spay and neutering feral cats, while important, are ultimately only treating symptoms of the problem. To prevent cat predation on wild birds and reduce the flow of new cats into feral cat populations we must address the root causes of cat over-population and promote responsible cat ownership. Current cat owners have the greatest potential to address these issues by spay and neutering their cats and not allowing them to roam free in the environment.

Many of our local bird species are in trouble. New reports released this year show that even many of our still common backyard species such as rufous hummingbirds and American goldfinches are experiencing significant long-term population declines. “Not allowing cats to roam free is one way that all of us can help make our backyards, neighborhoods and urban natural areas more bird friendly,” says Audubon Conservation Director Bob Sallinger. “I hear people say that keeping their cat indoors won’t make a difference, but with a problem like cat predation, changing owners behavior one cat at a time is ultimately the only way to make a difference.”

When it comes to feral cats, FCCO believes they deserve to live, and that trap-neuter-return is the compassionate solution to preventing future generations. To this end we will spay/neuter more than 4,000 feral cats this year who would otherwise be living outdoors and reproducing. By reducing the number of feral cats we are reducing the impact they have on birds and other wildlife. “While our program is making a difference for existing feral cats, we need the community’s help in preventing feral cats in the first place,” says Karen Kraus, FCCO Executive Director. “The two most important things people can do to help are to spay/neuter their cats before they can reproduce, and to not let their housecats roam free.”

Since the leading source of feral cats are free-roaming housecats, and the leading source of wildlife intakes at Audubon are from free-roaming cats, it makes sense that the two groups work together on a solution that helps cats and wildlife.

Beginning on March 30th, a series of public service announcements will begin airing on KGW/ Channel 8. We hope that this new non-traditional partnership will resonate with bird lovers and cat lovers alike. It is not about birds versus cats; it is about protecting birds and cats.

What you can do to help cats and wildlife:

  • Spay and neuter pet cats
  • House cats indoors, in an outside enclosure or walk cats on a leash
  • Never abandon an unwanted cat. Abandonment is inhumane and against the law. Unwanted cats should be provided with new homes or taken to a shelter.

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