Monday, December 7, 2009

Fur is Flying

I live in Texas. Have a lost a cat or two over the years.

For all I know, Cruella de Ville may be wearing them to the next Dallas big-haired, big-busted, big-blonded celebritycharityathon.

But I suspect coyotes.

Having two new cats, I decided to do a little research.

Good golly Miss Molly, what a mess I've stumbled onto.

Who'd a thunk there would be spin-meisters of Paul Begala's level and high-pitched caterwauling between rival animal rights groups who have latched on to the coyote versus cat (or vice versa) issue.

So, here's how it started.

A couple of professors published an article on coyotes and cats.

These two professors surely didn't expect the dust-up to follow. All they were doing was their required "publish or perish" work to continue their search for tenure.

Here are the highlights.

Journal of Wildlife Management 73(5):683-685. 2009
doi: 10.2193/2008-033

Observations of Coyote–Cat Interactions

Shannon E. Grubbsa and Paul R. Krausman1b

aGraduate Research Assistant, University of Arizona, School of Natural Resources, Biological Sciences E 325, Tucson, AZ 85721, USA

bBoone and Crockett Professor of Wildlife, Wildlife Biology Program, University of Montana, Missoula, MT 59812, USA


Coyotes (Canis latrans) pose a risk to domestic cats (Felis catus). We captured, radiocollared, and tracked 8 coyotes from November 2005 to February 2006 for 790 hours in Tucson, Arizona, USA. We observed 36 coyote–cat interactions; 19 resulted in coyotes killing cats. Most cats were killed in residential areas from 2200 hours to 0500 hours during the pup-rearing season. Single coyotes were as effective killing cats as were groups (>1) of coyotes. Documented cases of predators killing cats could encourage cat owners to keep their cats indoors and assist wildlife managers in addressing urban wildlife issues.

Thanks for pointing this out, perfessers.

And yippee for the good kitty surviving or better in half of these altercations.

As I continued reading the Google postings on this topic, this article keeps popping up.

Guess who's latched on to this "research" and is now peddling it? The American Bird Conservancy.

Yep. The good folks at the ABC are using this info to scare cat owners into never letting their cats outdoors.

Guess why.

Cats like to chase birds. And sometimes, the cats get one.

"Birding organizations such as the American Bird Conservancy (ABC), which estimates that free-roaming cats kill more than 100 million birds each year, were quick to encourage cat owners to keep cats inside", reports the usually more reliable Christian Science Monitor that has now swallowed the hook on this non-story.

If one of my none to excitable cats would just put a scare into the grackles I would give him a pound of fresh lox.

But the story is not nearly over.

Oh, no. The good folks at the ABC have now offended the good folks at the Feral Cat Coalition.

“The bird people are always exaggerating the danger cats pose,” says Carol Ameer, treasurer of the San Diego-based Feral Cat Coalition.

The perfessers must be amazed that their half-assed study of 36 coyotes has now become real live research that these other Nimrods have glommed onto and turned into a bitch fight that has nothing to do with coyotes.

Seems to me the obvious missing headline in all of this is:

"Coyotes Getting Their Asses Kicked by Pussies."

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