Diminishing the Impact of Feral and Free-Ranging Domestic Cats on Wildlife Populations

Number: 2006-11


WHEREAS, of the more than 77 million domestic cats in the United States approximately 65% or 50 million are allowed outside and are largely the source of the increasing number of feral cats; and

WHEREAS, current feral cat population estimates range from 60 to 100 million in the United States; and

WHEREAS, scientific studies indicate that free-ranging domestic cats and feral cats kill hundreds of millions of birds, and more than a billion other small vertebrates such as rabbits, squirrels, frogs, snakes, shrews, voles and chipmunks each year; and

WHEREAS, free-ranging domestic cats and feral cats kill many songbird species such as Northern Cardinals, Black-Capped Chickadees, Gray Catbirds, bluebirds, wrens, warblers and vireos as well as many rare and endangered species such as Piping Plovers, Florida Scrub-jays, and California Least Terns; and

WHEREAS, free-ranging domestic cats and feral cats are not part of American natural ecosystems and their predation on a vast number of mammal, bird, reptile, amphibian and arthropod species compromises biological diversity; and

WHEREAS, free-ranging domestic cats and feral cats compete with native predators such as owls, snakes, weasels, bobcats and foxes, and unlike most predators, are not strictly territorial; this allows them to exist in high densities and outcompete native predators; and

WHEREAS, domestic cats are prolific breeders with females capable of producing 3 litters per year, with 4 – 6 kittens per litter; and

WHEREAS, unvaccinated domestic cats can transmit diseases, such as rabies, toxoplasmosis and feline distemper to other domestic cats, native wildlife, and sometimes humans as well as being suspected of spreading fatal feline diseases to native wild cats such as mountain lion, the endangered Florida panther, and bobcat;

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the National Wildlife Federation, at its annual meeting assembled March 17-18, 2006, in New Orleans, Louisiana, hereby urges the passage and enforcement of local and state ordinances providing for the humane control of feral free-ranging domestic cat populations; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that National Wildlife Federation supports programs such as the American Bird Conservancy’s Cats Indoors Program and similar state agency-based efforts to educate and encourage domestic cat owners to neuter, vaccinate and take measures to physically control outdoor activities.