Don’t blame cats for destroying wildlife – shaky logic is leading to moral panic
Date: July 30, 2020
Authors: William S. Lynn, Arian Wallach, Francisco J. Santiago-Ávila
Publication: The Conversation
A number of conservationists claim cats are a zombie apocalypse for biodiversity that need to be removed from the outdoors by “any means necessary” – coded language for shooting, trapping and poisoning. Various media outlets have portrayed cats as murderous superpredators. Australia has even declared an official “war” against cats.
Moral panics emerge when people perceive an existential threat to themselves, society or the environment. When in the grip of a moral panic, the ability to think clearly and act responsibly is compromised. While the moral panic over cats arises from valid concerns over threats to native species, it obscures the real driver: humanity’s exploitative treatment of the natural world. Crucially, errors of scientific reasoning also underwrite this false crisis.
The (shaky) case against cats
Conservationists and the media often claim that cats are a main contributor to a mass extinction, a catastrophic loss of species due to human activities, like habitat degradation and the killing of wildlife.