I recently read an article in the latest issue of Animal Sheltering about the issue of cats vs. birds. (You can read their back issues of the magazine here: http://www.animalsheltering.org/publications/magazine/back_issues/) This is a subject that always confuses me: how can someone choose one species over another? How can one say that one animal is more important, more worthy of survival? I know that some feel native species are more important than those that are non-native - but why? Just because they were here first? How can any person be that simplistic?
Yes, cats kill birds. And yes, cats are a non-native species. But no, killing off populations of feral and stray cats is not the answer. Targeting cats is simply making them a scapegoat for the population decline of birds. We need to look at other, much more influential reasons that birds are dying. Killing may be an easy answer, but it is not humane and does not even "fix" anything.
So why are certain bird populations declining? Habitat loss and pollution have got to be the two of the main reasons. I'm not surprised that their populations are dwindling so much - there's hardly any room left for them any more! And pollution is so bad that I'm sure they have been and will continue to be affected majorly.
I can't say that I am some kind of expert, but we need to use our common sense here. We don't (read: we shouldn't) kill off one race/religion/color to benefit the other - why would it be okay to kill off one species to benefit another? There's always a better solution. To me, killing should never be an option.
This is actually something that connects to so many other issues out there, and because I don't have the time or education, I won't get into it now. In my opinion, yes, cats kill birds. And yes, the cat population is something that needs to be curtailed through sterilization and responsible pet ownership. BUT, it is not acceptable to kill cats to "save" birds, even if the cats WERE the main problem. Which they are not.
The National Audobon Society (let's hope this is a reputable source to use, haha) says that bird populations are "diving" because of the suburban sprawl, industrial development, and the intensification of farming in the last 50 years. Cats, anyone? No. Because although cats DO have an impact in areas, especially islands (so I've read), the results of farming, deforestation, pollution, industrial development, etc ARE SO MUCH GREATER. It's okay to "like" one species over another, but it is not okay to blame one animal species for the problems caused by humans. We need to look at the main causes of falling bird populations and attempt to improve *them.* And you know what? If we did that, there would be so many wonderful side effects. Less pollution for us, climate stability, less wasting of resources, etc. What does killing cats do? Well, it kills cats. Cruelly and unjustifiably.
Do you love birds? Yes? Well, personally, I think they're great, too. = ) Although I do not have indoor/outdoor cats, first, I would recommend having your cats wear collars with bells if you can. If they won't tolerate the collars or you have feral cats, I would then suggest making the popular bird places pretty inaccessible to the cats. (As much as possible, anyway) They make cat bibs that look kind of odd, but if your cat is killing a lot of birds and you want to curtail this a bit, check them out: http://www.catgoods.com/index.html. Keeping your cat indoors, especially during dawn and dusk is supposed to help. Building an enclosed structure for your cat to spend time outside with safety is a good idea.
I have to say again, I hate the argument that "cats are not native to North America." We aren't either! And look at all the animals, all the people we've killed!!! Just because they weren't here before we brought them over does not mean we can kill them at will. We do not have the right to kill off whatever/whoever we want! We have the OBLIGATION to find a peaceful solution. A solution that makes everything a little better in the end, including the animals, the people, and the environment.