Free-roaming domestic cats (i.e., cats that are owned or unowned and are considered ‘at large’) are globally distributed non-native species that have marked impacts on biodiversity and human health. Despite clear scientific evidence of these impacts, free-roaming cats are either unmanaged or managed using scientifically unsupported and ineffective approaches (e.g., trap-neuter-release [TNR]) in many jurisdictions around the world. A critical first initiative for effective, science-driven management of cats must be broader political and legislative recognition of free-roaming cats as a non-native, invasive species. Designating cats as invasive is important for developing and implementing science-based management plans, which should include efforts to prevent cats from becoming free-roaming, policies focused on responsible pet ownership and banning outdoor cat feeding, and better enforcement of existing laws.
Using a science-based approach is necessary for responding effectively to the politically charged and increasingly urgent issue of managing free-roaming cat populations.
David Hunter, Christopher A. Lepczyk, David C. Duffy, David M. Bird, Michael Calver, Dmitry Cherkassky, Linda Cherkassky, Christopher R. Dickman, David Jessup, Travis Longcore, Scott R. Loss, Kerrie A. Loyd, Peter P. Marra, John M. Marzluff, Reed F. Noss, Daniel Simberloff, Grant C. Sizemore, Stanley A. Temple & Yolanda v. Heezik,
A Science-Based Policy for Managing Free-Roaming Cats,
Available at: https://digitalcommons.wcl.american.edu/facsch_lawrev/2203