Along with tropical weather and gorgeous beaches, Hawaii is known for its unique biodiversity. Unfortunately, thousands of endemic species are at risk because of human encroachment on habitats and invasive species. One main culprit is the feral cat population in Hawaii. Discover their effects on Hawaii’s native inhabitants and how they can be reduced through spaying and neutering programs.
What Is a Feral Cat?
A feral cat lives in the wild and preys on insects and other small animals. Cats can become feral if they’re separated from their owners, or they’re born to stray animals. With established feral cat populations on all of the main Hawaiian islands, evidence of environmental disruption is growing, making a strong case for utilizing spaying and neutering treatments.
What Problems Do Feral Cats Cause?
Because of feral cats, endangered and protected species are dwindling. For example, they feed on endangered birds like the Palila and ‘Ua‘u. Overall, feral cats have contributed to the extinction of at least 33 species.
In addition to preying on wildlife, cats carry the Toxoplasma gondii parasite, which lays hundreds of millions of eggs in one cycle. These parasites cause toxoplasmosis, which has been linked to the deaths of a number of protected species, including the Hawaiian monk seal and the nēnē.
What Can Be Done About Them?
Spaying and neutering programs are the humane way to control the feral cat population. Once caught, cats can be spayed or neutered, then released with the assurance they won’t be able to reproduce. Pet owners should also take advantage of microchipping to ensure lost cats can be located through a veterinarian.
The veterinarians at Wahiawa Pet Hospital in Hawaii offer pertinent services to aid in feral cat management, including spaying and neutering. They pride themselves on offering personalized and compassionate care to every animal. Plus, they offer a variety of specials during the month as well as active duty military discounts. To learn more about Wahiawa Pet Hospital and the services they provide, visit them online, or call (808) 621-7000 to schedule an appointment.