DoE ramps up feral cats campaign

| 08/10/2021 | 152 Comments
Green parrot killed by a feral cat (photo from DoE social media)

(CNS) Feral cats are causing irreversible damage to critically endangered native animal populations across all three Cayman Islands. As a result, the Department of Environment is ramping up its education campaign on social media, making the case for a humane cull. The experts say the cats cannot be allowed to continue to roam freely and the issue will not go away unless something is done.

“It’s up to us,” a spokesperson for the DoE said this week as the department explained in a series of posts on social media why feral cats cannot coexist in Cayman’s fragile island ecosystem without catastrophic damage.

DoE Terrestrial Resources Unit Director Fred Burton recently explained to CNS the legal issues that have prevented the department from carrying out a cull. While no one wants to kill animals, invasive species such as feral cats and green iguanas are presenting a crisis to the native and indigenous birds and reptiles.

“Every day lost to delay is measurable in predation events where cats kill rock iguana young, birds, curly-tail lizards, and even boobies,” he said.

Every year roaming cats kill many critically endangered native blue and rock iguanas, and even domestic cats pose an enormous threat to precious native species.

According to the DoE, a feral cat hunting at night recently attacked a green parrot while it was resting in a tree. “A helpful human separated them as they fell to the ground but the parrot was already lethally injured and died soon afterward,” the department said in a Facebook post.

In another they said that an endangered baby blue iguana was fatally attacked by a free roaming, well fed domestic cat this month.

With the combination of feral and free roaming domestic cat populations reaching the thousands, most of Cayman’s endangered wild blue and rock iguana babies will not survive their first year.

The main problem with cats is their strong instinct to hunt, regardless of whether or not they are hungry, and they kill more prey than they can eat.

“They’ve already forced many species into extinction worldwide,” the DoE said. “We must protect our precious endemic wildlife from the same fate. Cats are smart. Some people believe feeding feral cats will keep them from hunting but in reality, human feeding gives them more energy to hunt. They also carry several diseases which can easily spread to both pets and humans.”

The DoE are continuing the battle to begin a humane cull because, as they have explained on many occasions, trapping and neutering is not a suitable solution for the feral cats in Cayman for a number of reasons, not least because there are so many, especially on the Sister Islands. Even if they could catch, neuter and release every cat, they would drive many indigenous specious to extinction before they died out.

Watch DoE video of baby blue iguana killed by a well fed domestic cat here.

Find more info and all DoE flyers on feral cats in the CNS Library.

Go to the DoE Facebook page.

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Category: Land Habitat, Science & Nature

Comments (152)

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  1. DoE says:

    The Department of Environment’s Terrestrial Resources Unit is comprised of several Biologists, Zoologists and volunteers working to protect the terrestrial biodiversity in the Cayman Islands. The issue of invasive species is not easy, but it’s one we must face to ensure our uniquely Caymanian animals are not moved from the endangered list to extinct. For accurate information about the work we are doing to protect our endangered species, please visit our web page and FAQ dedicated to these issues.

  2. Anonymous says:

    CITA members pound their fists and loudly complain about their own inflexible business models, meanwhile: animal control, trash cleanup, bike lane and curb painting and stencilling, boulevard landscaping…lots of mercedes-sized gaps that need someone enterprising to fill them with untapped PPP money. Many too proud to take the free advise that was offered and temporarily adjust their idle routine.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Punish the humans that are irresponsible with animal ownership. Like why are there dogs and cats everywhere that no one owns. My backyeard in west bay is f@cking Jumanji. Tag the animals to an owner when they arrive or are purchased then if they are found in the street fine the owner $5000. Its like everything, no enforcement, no accountability, no accountability for the people who are supposed to hold the others accountable. Machetes are legal pepperspray is band. We’ve spent millions killing harmless lizards but let cats and dog roam free. I just can’t anymore

    • Anonymous says:

      Another whataboutism argument.

      Some good points, but also some ridiculous ones.

      Harmless lizards, the green iguanas are not. They will push out the blue population if left unchecked.

      There should be mandatory microchipping of all dogs. A 5k fine if my dog manages to get free one day…errr what? He hasn’t, but if he did, I won’t be getting fined into the thousands. For regular offenders, yeah, not for one offs.

      Machetes are not legal as you think they’re restricted. There’s a difference, but not one that many know about.

    • Anonymous says:

      omg *banned dingaling

  4. Anonymous says:

    It’s ironic, they not realize they are the ones to be culled. Why this species think they are the only ones to have a right to life.
    Spayed, neutered and feed should be an option.

    • Anonymous says:

      spayed and neutered still gives the cats many years to continue killing the native animals

      it is also a myth that well fed cats do not hunt – it actually does the opposite – a well fed cat has more energy to hunt well

      your solution is not a solution to save the native animals in Little Cayman that are close to extinction.

  5. Anonymous says:

    I in little cayman now…ridin my motorbike..i see tons of ferral cats everywhere….

    • Anonymous says:

      and that is crazy – who wants to fly to a tiny island and see feral cats everywhere – its gross 🤮 people want to see lizards and birds. Cull the feral cat in Little Cayman now!

  6. Hugh Lockwood says:

    Mahatma Gandhi acutely observed that “the greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.”

    • Anonymous says:

      yeah and how is this nation treating our native animals?? we are allowing an invasive predator to hunt them to extinction!

  7. Anonymous says:

    When a Conservation Officer sits in a bar and advocates shooting Green Parrots to save his mangoes, you know you have a problem.

    • Anonymous says:

      nothing to do with cats

    • T.Milla says:

      When Conservation Officials are sitting in a bar. Talking about north side edge bar probably. Never seen a better parking lot full of enforcement vehicles must be enforcing the rugby or football games!!!

  8. Anonymous says:

    Once again this government isn’t addressing the issues that really affect the lives of Caymanians – affordable housing, education, jobs and the cost of living. Instead they want to focus on killing cats.

    • Anonymous says:

      well no – culling the cat is actually the most effective and low cost option

      all the feral cat lovers solutions require far too much money than its worth

    • Anonymous says:

      Once again, it is possible for a government to do more than one thing at a time.

      Did the iguana cull mean we chose to suspend teaching of children? Did the red bay roadworks stop because a jobs fair was being held?


  9. Anonymous says:

    What a catastrophe

  10. Anonymous says:

    That Parrot looks like me after a good spliff.

  11. Anonymous says:

    Also cull the dogs of inconsiderate owners that allow them to bark all day and all hours of the night.

    • Anonymous says:

      Dogs bark you fool. How you gunna stop that

    • Anonymous says:

      Dogs are barking about cats that are fighting about mates at night. That’s why I sleep in the daylight. I have gotten up at night thinking its someone trying to steal something and only find cats screaming at another cat.

  12. Anon says:

    Keep some of your kids indoors and off the streets

  13. Anonymous says:

    A cull on the Brac and Little Cayman especially in the area of where the Boobies nest seems appropriate. However having a general cull in Grand Cayman seems inappropriate particularly in town areas where cats assist with managing the rat population. Perhaps it may only be justified in the area of the Botanical Park to protect blue iguanas.

    I, along with many others, will not want to see local hunters being paid $10-20 to kill any cat. This is because it will result in the hunters not actually targeting the cats causing the issues but rather a general pogrom of slaughter in the towns and many loved pets being needlessly killed.

    Finally the DoE and Govt should consider carefully any move to undertake a cull because it will be reported around the world. Having a targeted cull is one thing, permitting mass slaughter is quite another.

    • Anonymous says:

      Cats rarely kill rats, they’re much too big in many cases.

      How about responsible owners keep cats indoors? Irresponsible owners do some reading about why cats should be indoors!

  14. Anonymous says:

    What about the farmers slaughtering the parrots in their mango patches?

    • Anonymous says:

      The humble cat is a friend of the Farmer.

      They don’t eat crops and certainly keep the vermin, cockroaches, worms, bugs, green iguanas and now, parrots under control.

    • Anonymous says:

      We can deal with one invasive species at a time.

      Human stupidity is more egregious, but harder to stop.

    • Anonymous says:

      Those farmers are protected

  15. Anonymous says:

    My main concern is HOW they think they are going to do this extermination? The DOE is totally silent about this. People on here seem to think they are going to shoot them like the iguanas. Killing them by shooting isn’t going to work after the first day. Cats are too smart to stand around waiting to be shot. Soooo, I expect they will try to poison them. This means the killing will not be humane and that plenty of other creatures are going to die too, such as agoutis and peoples pet dogs. If the DOE wants support from more people, tell us exactly what the plan is. Be transparent.

  16. Anonymous says:

    Cull the CHICKENS!

  17. Harley45 says:

    …and fit aluminum sheets around the trunks of trees.

    • Anonymous says:

      So the native lizards the cats are eating cannot escape, or forage in their natural environment?

  18. Anonymous says:

    After reading all these comments I’m feeling a bit catatonic.

  19. Larry says:

    Let the Iguana cullers shot cats at say 20dollars a head.

  20. Anonymous says:

    Where were all the protesters when a certain MLA some years back suggested there should be a reward of $10 per carcass paid to persons producing the dead bodies of parrots? This was because the farmers were complaining the parrots were eating the farmers mangoes.

    • Anonymous says:

      Good point 7:28 but that MLA was an aggressive individual especially where “furriners” were concerned and he represented a district where shooting birds was/is a cultural tradition ( like in West Bay) and if Mr Fred Burton had challenged him with tales of birds being killed it would have provoked the sort of response no one in search of a quiet life wants.

  21. Anonymous says:

    On the topic of culling, does anyone know the best way to kill wild chickens / roasters or if there is a service on island you can call? I have some loud ones that wake me up in the middle of the night near my house. I couldn’t find a cull service on ecaytrade.

    • Anonymous says:

      I’m also looking. Need to exterminate this infestation of pests which is what these chickens are.

      • Anonymous says:

        The chickens up in here are as invasive (as in the numbers) and destructive as the green iguanas. I’ve never understood how people find them so endearing. Shame they weren’t included in the green iguana cull for $.50 per head.

        My home is shoe-free. All I can think of when people walk in their homes with their shoes is tracking in all the chicken poo they think they haven’t stepped in…

    • Say it like it is says:

      7.11am I say we should close our boarders to roasters.

  22. Anonymous says:

    Personally I hate cats and never understood why people keep them as pets – they are all wild animals really. Obviously people’s domestic ones should stay but the feral cats and dogs should all be put down humanely.

    • Anonymous says:

      Why would anyone care what you personally feel about keeping a cat as a pet? Any type of pet for that matter.
      You should complain about those that keep exotics as pets. Like Sugar Gliders that are nocturnal and are kept awake to entertain their owners.

  23. Anonymous says:

    If you’re ready to meet your maker just step into my yard and try to murder my pets. I dare you

  24. Don’t cull my **$$¥ says:

    Simple, trap, inoculate and deport them to Grand Cayman We need all the help we can get with culling the chickens round here. Give them a NiCE job culling our feral chickens for a can of Starkist a day. Maybe they can kill a few stray green chickens from Honduras too.

  25. Anonymous says:

    Are you all ready to be overrun with rats? DEO will put out rat poison? Because rats will do more damage to the environment.

    • Anonymous says:

      I’m 99% sure DOE have thought about adverse effects. Ever took a minute to figure that rodents have predators other than cats? And that the rodents aren’t the ones hunting our critically endangered species?

  26. Anonymous says:

    I saw it move, polly is just resting, not gone to meet its maker yet.

  27. Anonymous says:

    Step 1) Spay and nueter the feral cats and release back into the wild.
    Step 2) Repeat the process with people who don’t take care of their pets and release them on the side of the road.

    • Anonymous says:

      You are a dumber than a brick.

      Suggesting to release the serial killers back into the wild minus their reproductive kit, is like putting a pedo back in front of a playground after taking his internet privileges away.

      It doesn’t solve the problem. Maybe it shrinks the spread of the problem, but it does nothing for the animals still in reach of these well trained hunters.

      Stop humanizing the cats. It is ecological genocide.

    • Anonymous says:

      Cats have no place in this environment. Neutered or otherwise.

  28. Anonymous says:

    What if I love cats better than birds?

  29. Anonymous says:

    This is actually a very serious matter, and also sadly serves as a partial-allegory for the whole Caymanian vs expat issue. I am a cat lover and have always been. The cats in question here are an invasive species and they are threatening the survival of the native species. There is therefore no question that they need to be culled. The courts should have never allowed the injunction in the first place and Government needs to stop trying to educate ignorant people on the matter, defy the injunction and carry out the cull ASAP with no apology.

    • Anonymous says:

      DOE needs to follow the law on this. It is ignorant to say otherwise.

      • Anonymous says:

        The law allows them to cull feral cats. The injunction is inappropriate. This matter has been dragging on for years, and every day it gets worse. If it is left alone it will be too late for the species they are trying to save. In this case the courts are the enemy of conservation, legality and common sense. So I disagree with you.

  30. Anonymous says:

    I don’t understand how this has not been resolved in the Courts yet. There is no other viable solution but to cull them.

  31. Anonymous says:

    Cull the cats 🐱

  32. Anonymous says:

    CHICKEN AND ROOSTER CULL NEXT PLEASE those noisy ***** waking me up!

    • Anonymous says:

      Agree and by FAR! The feral CHICKENS are worse than RATS, Iguanas and Cats!

      They destroy the landscape, dig up plants and gardens

      They defecate on cars from trees, scratch and destroy new paint on cars

      They screech at all hours of the night!

      They dig in trash!

      The carry lice and worms!

      DO SOMETHING!! We been complaining for YEARS!

      • Anonymous says:

        The chickens up in here are as invasive (as in the numbers) and destructive as the green iguanas. I’ve never understood how people find them so endearing. Shame they weren’t included din the green iguana cull for $.50 per head.

        I work on the 5th floor with #5 hurricane rated windows and can STILL hear them.

        My home is shoe-free. All I can think of when people walk in their homes with their shoes is tracking in all the chicken poo they think they haven’t stepped it…

  33. Anon says:

    Just out of interest how many of the engaged species have been killed by humans. Perhaps it is time to do a cull on humans who breed indiscriminately?

    • Anonymous says:

      so we should kill the humans and leave the cats so the cats still continue killing the lizards and birds?

    • Can't make this up says:

      I’ve said it before, the main threat that is driving birds to extinction is the careless development.

      When developers get to tear up old trees that birds have used for nesting over donkey years and force the birds to have no where to live, that’s why we see so many different species taking up on telephone wires around the Island in mass droves and flying around clueless after their known habitat is destroyed.

      Then all it takes is for one feral cat to kill one of these birds and suddenly it’s a cat problem? Gtfo the real threat to our birds are you idiots tearing down every green given tree that supports our indigenous avaian species.

      • Anonymous says:

        I can agree it’s a combination of development and cats in Grand. But this argument currently doesn’t hold true In the Brac and Little Cayman. It’s the cats.

    • Anonymous says:

      Who “build” indiscriminately. Fix that for you.

    • Anonymous says:

      What do you think COVID was all about? LMAO

  34. Anonymous says:

    Could they also do something about the feral chickens too

  35. Anonymous says:

    Now, if we have a cull, who is to say what is a feral cat and what is a loved member of the family just out for a stroll?

  36. Anonymous says:

    Shoot them, and send the Humane Society the bill. They are literally responsible for the situation now being so out of hand.

    • Anonymous says:

      4:46 pm what an ignorant comment, how on earth is this the humane society fault ??

      • Anonymous says:

        Because they sought and got an injunction preventing the culling program continuing pending a court determining whether DOE were acting reasonably or could have used alternatives such as catch neuter and release. So yeah, pretty much their fault. Although if the court treated the issue as urgent and heard the matter, there would at least be a resolution.

      • Anonymous says:

        Because when the problem was small people tried to solve it and the Humane Society objected and ultimately prevented the implementation of solutions. The problem has compounded exponentially in the years since. Hundreds of thousands of native animals and birds have been sacrificed at the alter of their ecological arrogance in direct consequence. They are directly responsible and should not escape some accountability.

    • Anonymous says:

      Elaborate please

  37. Anonymous says:

    Just shoot them! Human put cat problem in first place so we have to cull them.

  38. Anonymous says:

    5 teenager cats were on my doorstep this morning. Owners of unspayed, unneutered pets bear a huge responsibility for this problem. It might be a step in the right direction if neighbourhood watch or whatsapp communities could come together to create sense of collective care for both our pets and our native species.

  39. Anonymous says:

    Call the regiment.

  40. Dave says:

    And now, cue the cat-lovers who will now tell us their tales of how they tamed the wildest Cayman feral cat you’ve ever seen, and it’s now the cuddliest, friendliest pet cat in the world.

    And loudly proclaim that the DOE is made up of a bunch of murderous monsters who want to cull cute little kitties.

    What these Karens won’t tell you is any actual, viable, logical alternate solution.

    Culling the feral cats that are decimating the native animal population of Little Cayman is, unfortunately, the only option at this point.

    But I’m all ears in regards to another option. Let’s hear it.

    • Anonymous says:

      Kill the cats and you will be overrun with rats that will eat bird eggs

      • Anonymous says:

        Cats rarely kill rats, rats are aggressive and have a nasty bite. With so many easy to kill prey items around rats just are not on their menu.

        • Anonymous says:

          Maybe your cat

          My cats love dem some rat meat

          Rat’s don’t stand a chance around my parts.

    • Anonymous says:

      Humans are the problem…
      And many species have died out long before humans even existed.

  41. Anonymous says:

    Thanks DOE for all you do.

    It is critical that our native endangered species are protected from these predators, and just as important people are educated on the matter.

    It’s a mind boggling how people in general seem to want to protect the cats over our endemic species. I don’t even think it can be debated that our local Rock & Blue Iguana’s, Booby Birds, etc. have less priority over these invasive cats.

    Does anyone have a source for what I hear about “Feline Friends” making a court order injunction restricting the DOE from culling the cats?

    I can support Feline’s “idea” and what they’re doing for the TNR programs, but come on- if what you’re doing is allowing cats to destroy a fragile biodiversity environment… Use some logical sense for this one. Sad.

    • Anonymous says:

      Kill the cats and you’ll have an explosion in the rat population which is far more dangerous for humans and the environment.

      • Anonymous says:

        Are you sure there will be an explosion? I mean we do have snakes and owls that also eat rats, and probably other species. Where we have nothing that controls cats. Cats breed like it’s going out of style and kill our endemic species.

        There may be a teeny bit of truth to your point but most likely false.

  42. Anonymous says:

    Ironically, we protect rare and endangered indigenous animal species (e.g. parrots and blue iguana) from dangerous predators and people.

    But, when it comes to Caymanians, who are rare and endangered multi-generational people, there is favoritism shown to foreigners over Caymanians.

    Now expats, many who were failures in they own countries and hound success in Cayman, feel that they are able to be treated with more or equal protection in Cayman.

    In the future, let’s protect our Caymanian people, just like we seek to protect our our plants and animals.

  43. Anonymous says:

    8 to 10 feral cats living in my yard. I would love for DOE to cull those.

    • Beaumont Zodecloun says:

      They won’t stay there without a food and water source. It’s just that simple.

  44. Anonymous says:

    Excellent these “cat ladies” are a vicious group. I have had to run them countless times from my properties feeding these cats. The bird population has almost disappeared and there is no end in sight. Yes they collect them get them fixed then bring them back, but the numbers are too high for the rest of the ecosystem to support them. I notice the banana bird first, then the nightingales and the sparrows …. not a bird nest is safe from them and I have lost count of how many I have picked up with 1/2 eaten hatchlings in them.

    • Anonymous says:

      I haven’t seen a Banana Bird in ages! They used to be allover my back garden but not any more.

  45. Anonymous says:

    Give the Conservation Officers pellet guns and put cat culling in the job description….sorry, I forgot, they don’t like getting out of their air conditioned trucks.

  46. Anonymous says:

    Given that some cat owners allow their cats to prowl outside the house or apartment, how will the cullers be able to distinguish between these cats and the genuinely feral ones when they are trapping? Or will it be open season on any and all cats unattended outdoors?

    • Anonymous says:

      That’s on the irresponsible cat owners.

    • Anonymous says:

      Oh dear, I too am against the feral cat problem – as usual we all knew it was growing…

      but now my crazy neighbor will KILL my daughter’s 10 year old housepet cat due to this article?!? How do we keep housepets safe? Will they be scanned for chipped before being culled?

      • Anonymous says:

        House being the operative part of housepet!

      • Anonymous says:

        Or euthanized humanely

        • Anonymous says:

          Is being captured, kept in a small cage, transported in the back of a vehicle, held down while struggling, have a needle put in you and poison injected (all of which must be terrifying to a feral animal) really more humane than a well aimed bullet to the head, out of the blue?

          The bullet makes a bigger mess, but is probably MUCH kinder. Are those against it really thinking for the cats, or is the idea of actual blood on their hands (their better interests rather than those of the cats) what the issue is?

    • Anonymous says:

      Don’t let your cat outdoors – period. Even well fed house pets will still kill birds and lizards. The prey drive is too strong and cats dont just hunt when they are hungry.

  47. Anonymous says:

    They need to catch and neuter the useless humans who give unneutered kittens to their kids who quickly tire of them and let them run free to breed every six months when they reach maturity. The useless stray dog owners who let them roam, killing wildlife and frightening kids also need to be neutered. Unfortunately, the animals are suffering for the sins of the humans, though I understand the reasons behind the DoE argument.

    • Concerned Caymanian says:

      I agree with 2:04pm. While they are at it please cull two for the price of one. We have too many Chicken running around the whole Island. People do keep Backyard Chickens as pets and and when they get tired of them they let them out to be a nuisance to other people. Some people that have Backyard Chicken Coops do not even clean their coop for weeks and all it does is harbor Flies, Lice, Mites, Rats you name it.
      I don’t know if anyone else have experienced a strong odor on their skin after you go outside but it reaks of a strong Ammonia odor which I personally think is coming from all of the Wild Chickens that are roosting in the neighbour-hood or from their backyard Chickens.

      Do some research on what Ammonia from a Chicken coop can do to your lungs, Eyes etc. It very deadly to humans.

  48. Anonymous says:

    What a bunch of self-serving idiots! Have you forgotten about the chickens?

    • Anonymous says:

      chickens don’t kill our native birds or lizards so they aren’t the priority atm..

      • Anonymous says:

        They destroy landscapes, cars and they scream at all hours of the night. They’re full of lice and worms

        Worse than having RATS and certainly worse than feral cats!

        Get RID of them!! Nuisance and terrible PESTS!

    • Scramble their eggs says:

      2.04pm Exactly – what about all the feral chickens, ripping plastic garbage bags apart and eating all my mangoes within seconds of them falling from the tree. Give the iguana hunters a dual role and pay them for chickens as well.

  49. Anonymous says:

    Keep your pet cats indoors!!!!

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