During the last century, global domestic cat numbers rocketed past 200 million, along with a surge in cat diseases and numbers of feral cats and sick, injured and malnourished cats. Cat shelters are overflowing. Hundreds of thousands of cats are euthanised every year by despondent animal welfare workers. Misplaced sentimentality, sometimes promoted by corporate greed of cat food companies, has exacerbated this situation through promoting irresponsible feeding of strays.
Ecologist and author John Read has travelled the world consulting cat experts and collating the most recent science. In Among the Pigeons he balances the allure of indoor cats with the animal welfare, human health, and conservation issues they create when allowed to roam. But he also presents solutions, from breeding ideal indoor pet cats to development of humane and targeted tools to control feral cats.
In striking parallel to the repercussions of human-induced climate change, warnings about the damage wrought by free-ranging cats have been largely denied or overlooked. But we ignore these issues at our peril. For our own mental health and endangered wildlife worldwide, time is running out.
"[...] Recognition of the dangers posed by cats may be coming, but it is pitifully slow as the pro‐cat lobby remains strong. In some areas work is being carried out to try to reduce cat numbers and some new humane methods of doing so seem to hold promise for the future. It is hard to read this work without becoming convinced that cats really do belong inside."
– Christopher Perrins, Ibis, August 2020