Anyone disagree with Bill Mollison on cats?

Discussion in 'Breeding, Raising, Feeding and Caring for Animals' started by Nickolas, Dec 8, 2011.

  1. pebble

    pebble Junior Member

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    "Foxes on the other hand are almost inedible, and have very few uses in a permaculture system."

    But animals aren't only for eating. Surely it's about designing for the human needs in the context of any particular landscape. If foxes are useless I would wonder what you do with them if they insist on sharing your land.
     
  2. floot

    floot Junior Member

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    "I like pigs. Dogs look up to us. Cats look down on us. Pigs treat us as equals. - Winston Churchill"

    Any mention of cats on a permie forum, especially in Australia, will be divisive. Personally, I can see no need for cats in any part of Australia but would concede that their wildlife killing habits may be curbed in an urban environment or an aviary environment.

    In other parts of the world this may not apply, our member from Costa Rica points out that there are already cats of various sizes there so the impact of a domestic cat will probably never have the impact it has had in Australia. I also know that in Australia to mention something detrimental about cats causes emotional responses akin to saying 'your kids are ugly'. The responses are often not measured.

    Mollison is right to point out there does not appear a need for cats in a permaculture situation but I would imagine he was referring to an Australasian perspective.

    Cats, although not the only culprits, have been thought to have been largely responsible for the decimation and extinction of many species of small marsupial. To support this, there are many species surviving quite happily on islands around our coastline that do not have cats. There are cat-free sanctuaries where rare species do quite well. The fox is also to blame here but, of note, there is probably more than 40% of Australia where foxes do not exist and cats do.

    In the Northern Territory a few years ago 23 mala [a small type of kangaroo] where released back into the wild in a cat free zone in the desert. All was fine until a cat got in and managed to kill the last mala before it was caught. This species continues to do well in captivity but is extremely rare in the wild. The mala were natural across Australia's northern deserts very few people have seen them in the wild being naturally shy and nocturnal anyway.

    Two of the heaviest population densities I have seen for wild cats is Arnhemland and the Barkly Tableland in the Northern Territory and given that feral cats are shy and nocturnal, there numbers must be frightening.

    I will happily endorse people owning cats if they can guarantee that they are kept at home and under supervision. Good luck with that...:)

    cheers,
     
  3. pebble

    pebble Junior Member

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    "The responses are often not measured"

    On all sides of the debate ;-) I remember some pretty full on threads here on the PRI forum. People who are rapidly anti-cat are just a big a problem as people who are in denial of the problems cats can cause.

    I'd like to see the original Mollison quote, and the context. I don't understand the point of having that stance where feral cats exist. Over here at least, they are like any other introduced, problematic species (stoats are more of a problem for native animals than cats). We will never get rid of feral cats, so it makes more sense to me to include them in the design than have an abstract idea like 'cats are bad'. It reminds me of the permie view on wilding pines, which tries to redress the inherent problems in condemning a whole species. By including them in the design, I mean things like hunting/harvesting them and designing to minimise their impact.

    Domestic cats don't need to be at home and supervised. If they're to fulfill their function in the system they need to be able to hunt. You can teach cats what's ok to hunt (to a point and it does take some effort and good relationship with the cat). Having them neutered so they don't contribute to the feral cat problem makes sense.
     
  4. ppp

    ppp Junior Member

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    "my cat doesn't eat. .. much" denial? Talking in the Australian context there are no predators for them. I have seen quite a few cute little pussy wussies stalk and kill native birds and their chicks.
     
  5. Matt_95

    Matt_95 Junior Member

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    My cat keeps me warm in winter and also hunts geckos (the feral asian ones) which keep us up at night and poo all over my mums tablecloths she sells (we've fixed that now though). She is kept indoors but during summer when we leave the doors open she will go outside to cool off in the breeze. We also let her out when we are gardening or hanging out the washing so she can get some fresh air. She is terrified of birds and they all know it too, we used to have a pee wee that would fly in the house and terrorise her. The only animals she can sucesfully hunt are geckos and teh occasional skink that gets in the house.
     
  6. pebble

    pebble Junior Member

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    Not sure what your point is ppp. Yes cats kill birds. They also kill rats and mice, which is incredibly useful. In permie terms, it's about appropriate design. Besides, you can teach cats to not kill certain kinds of animals (up to a point), or at least I know people who have done this.

    I have no problem with feral cats being hunted in native ecosystems in the same ways as stoats, ferrets, possums and any other introduced animal that is causing decline in bird numbers. Nor do I have a problem with cats not being allowed as pets alongside or in native ecosystems. But most permies don't live in a such a situation, so it makes more sense for cat permies to design around cats if they want to. I'd still like to know how rats and mice are to be controlled without cats. It might be different in OZ, but in NZ there are few other options.
     
  7. Grasshopper

    Grasshopper Senior Member

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    I grew up in suburban Melbourne with cats, they mainly killed blackbirds, Indian minors and sparrows,they also killed rats and mice. On rare ocasions they killed native birds I remember a few doves and a lorikeet.
    I cant vouch for every kill but the routine was to display it at the front door.We had a siameese and burmese who killed a few possums.
    They where locked up at night and hung around the house most of the day mainly sleeping in the sun.
    Since not having a cat dad has to net his fruit trees and even his tomatoes,possums strip fruit of trees and eat the rind of the lemons,nest in his ceiling and he now sets baits and traps for the rats and mice.
    He never had lizards or frogs or any other wildlife as they had been devestated by decades of suburbia.
    He is too old to be bothered caring for another cat so never replaced the last one.
    As for me I cant justify a cat as I have millions of lizards, frogs and little native birds,and a few snakes it would have to be a house cat 100% of the time and then he would eat my house gheckos.
    and Im not prepared to eat him,milk him or make felt hats from his fur.
     
  8. Curramore1

    Curramore1 Junior Member

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    A quoll or tiger cat is our largest Australian native marsupial predator, are several species, usually comes in brown with white spots or black with white spots. Is a ferocious killer of domestic chickens and the like. Not many near densely populated areas. Would probably give a cat a run for it's money, but not anywhere near as fecund.
     
  9. pebble

    pebble Junior Member

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    Thanks Curramore, are they native?

    Grasshopper.... cats killing possums, that's very impressive!
     
  10. Pakanohida

    Pakanohida Junior Member

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    Which is why the fox has a home in some permacultural designs.
     
  11. pippimac

    pippimac Junior Member

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    Cats are a bit of a hot topic and one I usually avoid, but here goes:)
    pebble, I've never heard of anyone training cats not to attack certain species.
    So they'd go for rodents but not birds?
    I'm not into cats, but when my parents old moggies die and if they decide to get a youngster, I'd love to avoid fantails on the doorstep!
     
  12. pebble

    pebble Junior Member

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    I think you have to be a cat person. Some (not all) cat people get cats in a way that induces the kind of relationship where it's to the cats benefit to do or not do certain things. I know of a cat that will happily kill and eat feral rabbits but not only doesn't eat the pet rabbit in the household when it is out, but plays with it. Cats are generally very intelligent but you can't train them like dogs. You have to have cat mind. Train might not even be the right word. But people teach cats all the time: to toilet outside, to not jump on the kitchen bench. I taught my cat to fetch a toy.

    There are other ways of managing cats killing native birds (I personally don't have a problem with cats killing non-natives unless that is a problem for a specific reason). I lost some waxeyes one year, because my cat learnt how to sit by the compost where they were feeding. I covered the compost and the cat stopped getting the wax eyes. Where I live now, there is a tree that the fantails love. The neighbour's cat gets a few of them. I think the solution is to remove the easy cover for the cat (tussocks) and to take the branches of the tree up (at the moment they hang very low near the ground). Haven't convinced the tree owner yet.

    Observe and interact! ;-)
     
  13. Nickolas

    Nickolas Junior Member

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    I have a 2 year old male cat that i trapped with a cat/fox cage trap when he was an 8 week old feral kitten. I never let him go out side.
    It took a lot of work with him but he is now as friendly as a domesticated cat and kills like a feral cat(best of both worlds), apart from humans he killes anything that sets foot in the house like rats, mice, birds and he evan got a snake once.
    I like my pet cat but i have killed about 20-percent+ of his feral kin in my area and i dont plan on stoping any time soon as they kill so many things in my local area, they out number humans about 5 to 1 in my area.

    p.s. sadly i had to kill another lot of feral cats last night when 6 of them broke into 1 of my 2 chook pen where they killed and ate 1 rooster, 10 of my chickens and 6 of this years baby chicks, sadly i now only have 3 hens, 2 roosters and 3 chicks left that were in my other chook pen.

    This was very bad as i have never seen feral cats work together befor, but at least i killed all 6 of the feral cats that got into my chook pen.
     
  14. andrew curr

    andrew curr Moderator

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    not much meat on a cat

    good for tennis rackets
     
  15. garnede

    garnede Junior Member

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    I think I disagree with Mollison. While it may be true where cats are not native, OZ & NZ, here in the US they fit pretty well. We still have coyotes, bobcats, mountain lions, black bears, foxes, and alligators that are native plus wild dogs and feral hogs that will all kill and eat cats. In towns the wild life can't keep up with the feral cats, but that is not a good reason to not have a pet cat that has been fixed. I live in town and hunting is not allowed. My yard is surrounded by live oak trees, which harbor lots of grey squirrels. If not for my cats I would not get any fruit or veggies because the squirrels would eat it all. They also kill mice, rats, snakes, insects, some birds, and anole lizards. I don't feel bad for any of them, because they are benefitting from the permaculture design/deep mulch garden that make the environment much more favorable to wildlife than before I started. The cats keep the excess from becoming a problem. And most importantly they make my wife happy.
     
  16. Wolf_rt

    Wolf_rt Junior Member

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    Yeah, i love cats, but there really not the go generally... even if they don't get the birds they do scare them off..

    On the other hand, if you can train them to crap in the compost heap, then that's something...

    Perhaps only fat cats with bells?
     
  17. pebble

    pebble Junior Member

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    "I don't feel bad for any of them, because they are benefitting from the permaculture design/deep mulch garden that make the environment much more favorable to wildlife than before I started. "

    That's a good point. Where I live the best way to encourage birds is to plant more trees and habitat for them.
     
  18. ppp

    ppp Junior Member

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    Does any one know if chooks would eat a dead cat?They love protein.
     
  19. Dzionik

    Dzionik Junior Member

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    Woow you want to feed chooks with cats? how inventive :) waste nothing.
     
  20. pippimac

    pippimac Junior Member

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    In my experience, chooks will eat anything if it's boiled first...
    they love possum and I imagine they'd love cat too!
     

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