Sunday 5 January 2020

Why not genetically engineer feral cats to stop them reproducing?

This may be an idea that has been put forward before but which has just occurred to me. It is possible, nowadays, to genetically engineer animals so that when they reproduce the female cat is rendered sterile. This genetic modification is passed on from the male to female.

Feral cat colony. Picture in public domain.

Therefore, if you introduce into a population of feral cats some male cats who can pass on this modified gene then eventually that colony would disappear and in a very humane way.

The technology is called "gene drives". As an alternative to passing on a gene which renders female cats sterile, you could ensure that offspring are nearly always males which would create an imbalance between males and females in a large colony. This also would have the result of reducing the colony's size to the point where it became zero ultimately.

I am convinced that it must have been discussed. It is new technology but I don't recall it being discussed in relation to feral cats. In The Times newspaper date 'gene drive' is discussed in relation to grey squirrels in the UK which have had a decimating impact upon red squirrels as many people know.

A lot of people consider that the domestic and feral cat is an invasive species (like the grey squirrel in the UK) and gene drives are one way of dealing with invasive species. I don't approve of it particularly and neither does the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. They dislike it because genetic engineering is unapproved for people and therefore why should it be approved for animals.

Another issue is that it may be difficult to confine this kind of genetic engineering to the target animals concerned. If it spread beyond the targeted species it may have a detrimental impact upon ecosystems.

However, I believe that this risk is being tackled. Like many other people, I am concerned about the plight of feral cats in many parts of the world. They are often abused or live rather short and miserable lives. However, sometimes their lives are quite decent because there are many volunteers running TNR programs in America, for example, which I think is wonderful.

TNR programs, I would argue, are similar to genetic engineering. In the former surgery is employed to make cats sterile and in the latter that objective is achieved through genetic engineering. Both are humane methods or considered so, certainly in relation to alternatives such as mass killing which is employed in Australia.

I would certainly recommend that the Australian government looks at this method of controlling feral cat populations. They have struggled for many years with methods to reduced the number of feral cats on their continent. As it happens, those efforts which are very cruel now seem rather futile and stupid in comparison to the estimated half a billion animals of native species which have been killed in the infamous wildfires which are largely out of controlled in the east of the country.

These fires have arguably been inflamed by global warming and Australia contributes to global warming by being one of the world's major coal mining countries. They export coal to China where it is burnt in coal power stations which contributes to global warming.

Arguably, Australia is in a complete mess with respect to the preservation and conservation of their native species. This is because of the ambivalent approach by their government and because they pursue economic growth at all costs as do most other countries which is very hard to stop in a competitive world. However, global warming is having a devastating impact upon wildlife conservation.

Two new Illinois animal laws for 2020



There are 2 new animal laws for Illinois for 2020. One was introduced by state senator Jill Tracy. Cats four months and older must get a rabies shot. This does not include feral cats. Also, dog and cat kennels must now be equipped with a fire sprinkler or alarm system if the facility is not staffed 24 hours a day and seven days a week.

This is a very brief notice primarily directed at Illinois' boarding catteries.

Tuesday 10 December 2019

Children should be encouraged to explore the natural world in the interests of wildlife conservation

I agree with two children's authors, Sir Michael Morpurgo and Julia Donaldson, when they say that children should be encouraged to explore the natural world on their own and take risks. They should not be crowded out by regulations but exposed to the countryside.

"People tell them to love the planet, but if you don't actually know what the planet is, and love things about it, why would you? You need to get dirty." - Julia Donaldson.



They should get dirty. They should scratch their knees and talk to trees. They need to smell the earth and cut grass. They need to feel the wind in their face. Silently falling rain should please them.

They should listen to the landscape, look up at the sky and admire the clouds. See them scuffling against a blue-grey backdrop and learn how to read the weather.

They should love to watch squirrels and birds feeding. The sound of the fox at night should not disturb them but make them smile. All these things will give them an understanding of nature. Through that understanding they will be more sensitive to the needs of wildlife.

And through their sensitive they will wish to protect wildlife rather than abuse it, use it and trash it as it is so commonplace nowadays.

And when they understand wild species better they will also understand and respect their domestic cat companions. In the domestic cat they have a miniature wild animal in their home. The traits of a wild cat are in the domestic version.

It is a great pleasure to have such a special relationship with our domestic cats. Two completely different species getting on beautifully. One is almost wild and the other is us, full of baggage and contradictions. They are innocently pure. Such a joy to experience it.

Why are domestic cats so small?

Because they are descended from the North African wildcat, a cat of similar proportions and appearance even after about 10,000 years of domestication. I suppose you might ask why was the North African (African-Asian) wildcat domesticated?

Comparison domestic and wildcat ancestor.

It is because the place where they were first domesticated - the Fertile Crescent (in the area of Syria) was suited to farming and it so happened that this wildcat was present in that landscape. The cat and farmer met to mutual benefit and the rest is history as they say. 

The North African wildcat has a relatively nice temperament suited to domestication. They kept the rodents down and the farmer had a working cat and some company and fun. This happened around 9,500-12,000 years ago it is believed.

There are other small wild cats who are also suited to domestication to various extents e.g. the margay, but it just happened that the North African wildcat got their first perhaps because 10,000 years ago the Middle East was a developing and active area for farming. 

Farmers would have encroached onto the wildcat's territory forcing them together. There may have been conflict between human and cat but some farmers liked their presence for their rodent killing habits.

There must have been the very first domestic cat. At that time there was a single domestic cat in the world. Now there are around half a billion domestic and feral cats.

It is worth arguing that the question is incorrectly formulated as what is 'small'? There are smaller animals than the domestic cat and there are larger ones. They are small compared to us. It might be argued that the domestic cat is somewhere in the middle range of animal size. 

Therefore it could also be argued that they are not small. I think perhaps the reason why the question has been formulated is because the questioner is comparing the cat to the size of humans. Therefore relative to humans the domestic cat is small. That is not a good reason to ask, "Why our domestic cat so small?"

Thursday 5 December 2019

Luka Magnotta the babyfaced kitten killer and then a man killer

A page which I wrote some time ago has suddenly gone viral (at 4th and 5th Dec. 2019) and I think it is because Netflix have made a documentary about him and it is going to be aired on television on 18 December 2019.

Please click this link to go to the page I wrote about Magnotta a while ago. It has been regularly updated as more information has been revealed.


Photo: Rex Features.

The man that I am referring to is the Canadian Luka Magnotta. He is a classic psychopath and he is truly infamous. First he killed two kittens and made sure that he was videoed doing it and he uploaded the video to the Internet. It was subsequently deleted but screenshots were made of it.

Then he met up with another gay person who he murdered and dismembered. He sent body parts to politicians and teachers. You can read about it on the page that I have referred to above. It's a classic case to of a psychopath moving from animal cruelty and torture to doing the same thing to people. You could write a textbook about this boy as he was when he kill the kittens but is now a man and a very dangerous one.

As I said, he so infamous that Netflix decided to make a full-blown documentary about him. He has that baby face: a veneer to a truly evil mind.

Featured Post

i hate cats

i hate cats, no i hate f**k**g cats is what some people say when they dislike cats. But they nearly always don't explain why. It appe...

Popular posts