Letters to the Editor, Opinion

Cat colony on campus

An enormous and growing population of free-roaming cats exists in Florida, posing a threat to the state’s native animal species and creating a serious public health concern.

Cats are not indigenous to Florida or anywhere in North America. As a non-indigenous species, or “invasive” species, cats have spread throughout the continent and threaten to destabilize native ecosystems.

Not only do cats impact Florida wildlife through predation and spread of disease, but they can outnumber and compete with native predators, such as owls, hawks and foxes. Domestic cats hunt many of the same animals that native predators do, and when present in large numbers, cats can reduce the availability of prey for native predators.

The instinctive hunting behavior in cats is decoupled from their hunger mechanism so that they kill impulsively even when they are not hungry.

The study of two Miami-Dade County cat colonies found that the colonies did not decline in size over time, partly because people continued to illegally dump their unwanted cats and also because not all the cats were sterilized.

The problem, as well as the solution, lies with human behavior. At the state and local levels, there must be a loud and continuing campaign to educate the public about the impacts of free-roaming cats on Florida’s wildlife and human health. The campaign must include public service announcements on television, radio and in newspapers, as well as education in public schools.

Local governments should post signs in public parks warning that it is illegal to feed stray cats and dogs as well as to feed wildlife. Local governments should enforce mandatory sterilization of all cats and dogs placed for adoption at shelters.

If state and local governments continue to ignore this crisis and pass the buck, the feral cat population will continue to grow. It is up to the human population to decide how many native Florida species we will let become extinct, and how big a public health problem we will allow free-roaming cats to become.

Ana Zanetti, BSCE ’06, writes from Miami, FL.

March 6, 2019

Reporters

Letter to the Editor


Around the Web

Caribbean experts assessed the coronavirus’s impact on the region in a webinar on Nov. 19 hosted by the University of Miami Institute for Advanced Study of the Americas. ...

A project on race, housing, and displacement in Miami connects past patterns of discrimination to modern disparities. ...

United Black Students and the Black Student Athlete Alliance, in partnership with the University of Miami administration, mobilize to honor the lives lost due to police brutality. ...

As students and faculty and staff members prepare to wrap up the Fall 2020 semester, here’s a look at the availability of facilities and services during the break. ...

The University of Miami president called for increased cooperation, new powers for the World Health Organization, and transparency incentives as critical to manage and mitigate future health outbreaks. ...

TMH Twitter
About Us

The Miami Hurricane is the student newspaper of the University of Miami in Coral Gables, Florida. The newspaper is edited and produced by undergraduate students at UM and is published in print every Tuesday.