Forest Feline

Feral Cat Nov. 29 2020

The recent reopening of the lower passage through the Native Plant Area — the forested grove on the west side of the park — has brought some previously obscure wildlife into view. Case in point: this feral cat. It emerged into the passage from the shrubbery below, followed the trail for a bit, and then disappeared into the bushes on the uphill side. It appeared well fed and healthy, at least in my passing view.

I first noticed feral cats in the meadow below the forested grove in 2012, and published a picture here. A few years later, I learned that a local nonprofit, Fix Our Ferals, maintained feeding stations in and near the park for feral cats. One such station was in the Native Plant Area. A volunteer from the organization came once a week to fill the residents’ kibble and water bowls, and they padded out onto the nearby bench for personal handouts and attention.

Feral Cats on feeding day, March 19 2018

I have not seen the feeding station nor the volunteers, nor any feral cats, since that time, until now. Staff member Erin from Fix Our Ferals responded on Nov. 30 to my email inquiry about the cat I saw on November 29, saying,

We don’t manage colonies anymore but there are people that feed at Golden Gate fields and the area around there so I am sure this cat is either being fed by them or someone else.”

Feral cats in the park raise obvious concerns. In the first place, they got there very likely because humans dumped them. That’s poor behavior; few pets survive. If they do survive, it’s by hunting. There may be plenty of mice and voles to go around, but the prime victims of feral cats are birds.

Cats are the Number One threat to birds, according to the American Bird Conservatory.

Predation by domestic cats is the number-one direct, human-caused threat to birds in the United States and Canada. In the United States alone, outdoor cats kill approximately 2.4 billion birds every year. Although this number may seem unbelievable, it represents the combined impact of tens of millions of outdoor cats. Each outdoor cat plays a part….Even well-fed cats will hunt and kill. Upon reflection, most cat owners will have observed this behavior. When a cat plays with a feather toy or laser, it is practicing predatory behaviors. When these behaviors continue outdoors, the results are deadly for birds and other wildlife. Unfortunately, the mere presence of cats outdoors is enough to cause significant impacts to birds. Because cats are recognizable predators, their presence near nesting birds has been shown to reduce the health of chicks and decrease nest success.,of%20millions%20of%20outdoor%20cats.

This report makes it clear that cats will hunt and kill even if they are well fed. It’s in their DNA. People who take it upon themselves to feed feral cats in the belief that this prevents harm to birds are mistaken. If you are feeding a cat in or near the park, please stop, and see what you can do to trap the animal and take it to the Humane Society for adoption. Feral cats don’t belong in parks.

3 thoughts on “Forest Feline

  • Marty is spot on. The best solution is for an agency to gather up these cats and adopt them out. The lives of many beautiful birds are on the line. Thanks for your great coverage of all things Chavez.

  • Wendy, I love all the birds and other native wildlife that have come to inhabit the Park –wildlife which all too often become prey for the feral cats. I prefer that those wildlife have their odds improved to provide food for each other rather than for feral cats. I love cats too –in their domestic roles as caring peoples’ well-tended-for pets / companions.

  • I love cats! I feel worry for these cats. I guess you saw this cat recently so there are still some there….I do hope someone is caring for them, but it is so cold at night now…poor things…

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