Domestic cats are endearing companion animals. They deserve our attention and protection. When they are permitted to wander freely unsupervised or essentially live outdoors for most of the time, they receive neither and are not truly safe. The aggregation of cats roaming at or adjacent to Mazza Recycling as a result of the misguided program by the Monmouth County SPCA is not humane, does not result in population reduction, and is far from a green initiative. Domestic cats are the leading direct human-related cause of wild bird and small mammal mortality. Utilizing cats for ‘rodent control’ is similar to scattering poison – non-target species are destroyed. For every outdoor cat, 21 to 55 wild birds will perish annually. This is neither sustainable nor environmentally friendly.
Birds of prey, snakes, fox, and coyotes are natural predators of rodents – not domestic felines, which are not a natural part of any landscape. That said, wild animals at a waste management company can present an issue. Better options for controlling rodents include tending to site hygiene and sanitation, minimizing exposed waste, exclusion, traps, integrated pest management, and trained rat terriers.
‘Saving’ lives should not come at the expense of our natural resources or public health. Felids are the definitive host for Toxoplasma gondii and can spread myriad zoonotic diseases. Given the pandemic, if we still do not understand the importance of preventative and sound, evidence-based practices regarding matters of public health, we never will.