Art saw an article in the Star Advertiser and thought it might interest everybody. It was written by Matthew C. Tuthill who is an assistant professor of molecular biology and microbiology at the University of Hawaii's Kapiolani Community College. Here is the link to the original article.
Mr. Tuthill said that the idea of cat colony caregivers who were trying to feed stray cats in order to gain their trust so that they could be brought in for sterilization was not working. It was, in fact causing more of a problem by increasing the feral cat numbers.
Incredibly 73 percent of the feral cats in Hawaii are infected with Toxoplasma gondii which is a single- celled parasite that are harmful to people who are immune-compromised or pregnant. He stated that an infected cat sheds about a million resilient cysts into his surroundings that stay viable for a year until a mouse, pet or human becomes infected.
As if that wasn't bad enough, many other studies have shown that surface runoff spreads the Toxoplasma cysts into the water possibly infecting the seal population. He said 13 percent of otter deaths were proven to be from Toxoplasma infection.
Even though human infection is pretty much thought to be benign if healthy and not pregnant, some research showed that it may cause mental or physiological (brain inflammation, cellular damage, clinical depression) alteration.
The part of his article that worried me also was his statement that people are also feeding birds (no kidding!) and mongoose. Cats can harbor Toxoplasma, hookworm, roundworm, heartworm, ringworm, feline leukemia, Salmonella, fleas, etc. Birds and mongoose also harbor parasites and microbes that can be passed on to humans and pets.
There are a lot of feral cats in the neighborhoods of Hawaii. Art loves animals and was tempted to feed them at one time. We've also heard recently that outdoor cats have been killing 1.4 billion to 3.7 billion birds a year. Pretty darn amazing. I don't think it's pigeons they're killing though.
Again, I believe this is another instance of humans upsetting the balance of nature. It's hard to know what is the right thing to do.