So Hawaii Wants to Kill Cats…..

Have you heard of the study conducted by  of the 

Well, let me fill you in. Seems Lohr and Lepczyk have determined that, at least according to rural residents and conservationists, the best way to deal with the problem of unowned cats is to trap ’em and kill ’em. They also found that TNR (trap-neuter-release) was the LEAST preferred technique. 

Needless to say, there is a LOT of controversy surrounding this study. Vox Felina published a response to the study just this month citing numerous flaws in the way the study was conducted. 

Photo from
Photo from

But what is NOT in dispute is the fact that the numbers of unowned cats on the Hawaiian islands are far too high and they are killing endangered birds at an alarming rate. 

Hawaii has a HUGE problem with feral cat overpopulation. The climate allows for breeding throughout the year. The cats have no natural predators. And, despite laws against it, people continue to dump animals or allow unaltered cats to roam outdoors. Then there are people feeding the feral cats, but not managing colonies, which allows for more births. Add all that up, and it can equal nothing but disaster for birds and small animals.

Personally, I think we’re focused on the wrong culprit. The REAL problem is with humans. Oahu has a population of approximately 1 million people, and 60% of households on the island have a pet. Over a quarter of those households obtained that pet from a breeder. And, apparently, pets are just as disposable in Oahu as in the rest of the US. Last year alone, the Hawaiian Humane Society of Oahu handled almost 28,000 animals. 

Photo from

Hawaii has worked hard to deal with the unowned cat problem for years. Since 2005, Hawaiian Humane Society of Oahu alone has sterilized 19,000 feral cats. And there are other groups there doing the same. And yet, the problem continues to get worse. Clearly, TNR isn’t working. 

When taking in the full view of the problem facing Hawaii, I can see how many residents would feel it’s time to get rid of the cats. 

Until we find a way to address the problem with humans acting irresponsibly, Hawaiians are going to have to decide which is more palatable: kill cats, or watch numerous bird species go extinct. 

So, what do you think might work for Hawaii? And, I’m warning you, I’m going to play Devil’s Advocate with your plans, so think it through. 

72 thoughts on “So Hawaii Wants to Kill Cats…..

  1. That picture of the cats eating food is insane. I don’t think they should kill cats. That is cruel. They should adopt the cats out after they TRN them. People out of state should be allowed to adopt them, too so Hawaii’s birds are safer!!! I love cats!!

    1. Two problems: 1- how to get the cats from Hawaii to other states, and 2- what happens to all the cats in those other states that need a home? Every state in the US has animals needing homes. Jockeying animals from one place to the other doesn’t solve the problem. It just makes more room for new cats to move in.

  2. They could ship cats worldwide – like dogs are being adopted to different countries all over the world. I know there are problems with that, but in my opinion, the most important thing is to save animal lives. And they’d better not ask me what I’d want done to the cat killers…

      1. I’m sure after a few weeks of intense thought while lying on the beach, I will come up with something. 🙂 Actually, all joking aside, I don’t agree that death is better than TNR. I think they need to put together a network of volunteers to help collect and care for colonies as well as doners and vets that can help with the cost of fixing them.

  3. The main problem here is again…..humans! If people had there animals neutered/spayed, there wouldn’t be quite so many living on the streets. People also will throw them out when they don’t want the responsibility anymore! There are many no-kill shelters to help with the problem of unwanted pets. Killing them is not the answer! When buying or adopting a pet, it should be mandatory that they are registered so that the owners will have to be held accountable!

      1. Sorry for being several years late to this… But I would like to see a law in Hawaii that every cat in Hawaii be required by law to be spayed or neutered unless the owner has a license to breed, and that license comes with regulations. I agree that humans are the problem. Unless they were feral, there is no reason we should see kittens on Craigslist ever.

        I can’t agree though that cats should never go outside. I live in the Oahu north shore country, and I need my cat (who is fixed and chipped) to handle the rats and mice. My cat is an excellent ratter, and he loves birds – not to eat, but to snuggle. He lives with chickens, and I know you guys won’t believe this, but he would even try to incubate eggs when he found out what came out of them. He won’t even eat eggs anymore when at first he loved them. He guards chicks from the mongooses and lets them run all over him. He has brought home live birds fallen from trees for help as well as led other kittens or injured cats home which we nursed and then helped get adopted out. He is an asset to the outdoors, and not a liability to birds. This year we are seriously considering deducting our cat expenses since he does a very important service for us and we just learned this was tax deductible.

        While I agree that not everyone can train a cat like we have, people need cats to deal with their rat and mouse problems, so in whatever solution there must be an allowance for cats performing a clear service for their owner. Cats aren’t the only invasive mammals that are threats to birds, and they are ninjas with the rodents.

  4. Honestly, this Hawaii situation is a hard one to solve. I am stumped on how to reply for solution. There is one out there it just needs to found soon. Thanks for bring information to light.

  5. If there is an answer to this–and I don’t know that there is–I suspect it lies in humans revering all life, a reverence that is in short supply. We are the culprits here and elsewhere as the planet reels from our footprints.

      1. I don’t know, honestly, but I attempt it one person at a time, beginning with myself, daily. The more compassion I have for myself, the more I have for others–neither is easy for me. Yet, compassion helps me “hear” what I want to dismiss because it irritates, bothers, or angers me. It is a slow process but it’s the only one I know. And yeah, some days, I fail miserably but I keep at it. Thanks for your blog, BTW. It is fresh and thought-provoking.

  6. A bigger effort for spay/neuter, catch and release. These cats are essentially wild. You’d have to get the kittens to tame them as pets. Lived there and it really is bad. So what would you do if you were overrun by rats at your house? Catch, neuter and release?

      1. well, here in Illinois we have part of our taxes ‘Mosquito Abatement’ to keep those darn skeeters at bay. It is a bad problem and could possibly be a public health issue. Hawaii will address it. I’d hope they’d amp up the catch and release but also do some kind of protection of the wild life too.
        Human problem, has to have a human solution.

  7. It’s a tough call. Since we aren’t allowed to catch and neuter the original owners (my first choice), there needs to be a solution that will actually solve the problem. No simple answer.

  8. Huge tax on purchasing cats from breeders and petstores could help,huge tax, makes adopting a rescue very appealing. HUGE tax

  9. The problem is immense and immediate. I suspect like white tail deer in my area, cats will be killed in the immediate future to deal with it.

    But I recently read of research on a genetically modified bacterium that may be an effective oral contraceptive for cats. It could be introduced into the food given to feral populations. Here’s the link:

    Massive feral cat populations aren’t healthy for the cats, humans, and other small animals like birds. We need to work to fund research that will lead to an effective solution.

  10. They are innocent, unwanted and mistreated creatures. What hope do they have if humanity refuses to take care of them? What about unwanted Hawaiians? Should we kill them too? I could name a couple if you like!

    1. I wouldn’t call an invasive species innocent. Feral cats, rats and boars are some of the most destructive threats that have been introduced to our islands. We have already lost much of our native endemic species to these invaders, so I feel we need to stop justifying and protecting these invasives and focus on the actual populations that may be going extinct.

  11. Reblogged this on Kev's Blog and commented:
    They are innocent, unwanted and mistreated creatures. What hope do they have if humanity refuses to take care of them? What about unwanted Hawaiians? Should we kill them too? I could name a couple if you like!

    1. I will be the first to say I don’t want to see the cats die. But the status quo is unsustainable and neither side is willing to budge. So what to do?

  12. While I feel immensely sorry for the cats who are there through no fault of their own I feel that more needs to be channeled into protecting the wildlife. There must be cat deterrents they can use to keep the birds safe.

    Maybe when doing TNR they could put collars with bells on the cats before release? I’m not sure how workable that is but it seems relatively simple for me. I couldn’t possibly guess how much that would cost but it would help give the birds more time while a long term solution is found, wouldn’t it?

    It breaks my heart thinking of so many cats living feral like that

    ~ Amy

    1. Part of the problem is cats raising nests. Bells won’t stop that. And there are simply so many cats that there is no way they could collar them all, much less TNR them.

  13. Forgive me if my writing may be a little off due to commenting with my phone. I’m not to apt at using these small keys.

    There is no easy solution as you have said throughout this thread. I am from Oahu. In my neighborhood alone I have tons of TNR cats roaming.

    There is the kauai shearwaters that are being affected the Petrals on the Big Island, volcano area to be specific, and the elepaio on Oahu. These areas where the endangered birds nest are rarely if ever near neighborhoods or people in general.

    A lot of work is being done ad best as they can at this point. To say that Hawaii wants to kill cats is a little overly dramatic. They have worked hard at trying to come up with solutions and even formed The Hawaii Coalition for the Protection of Cats and Wildlife. Notice the Cats and wildlife in that title.

    As a person born and raised in Hawaii I have seen the destruction of our native plants and animals not just from cats, but mongoose as well as boars.

    Please don’t speak of loosing humanity in regards to animals, but dismiss the statements about getting rid of Hawaiians.

    Humanity means working together to solve this problem however unsolvable it may seem without loosing your human spirit.

    If you do research on the subject you will find out more about how agencies are doing their best to fight the problem without having to kill cats.

    This is not only a Hawaii problem. We can all learn from each other. Use our brain cells for positive solutions not negative responses.

    1. And just to be clear this is not in response to your blog post. I think it brought up great info and a difficult problem. A good way to get people thinking “positively”

    2. I confess I used a dramatic headline to entice readers in, but my concerns are serious. It’s easy for people to spout off talking points they heard others use without thinking through the problem. This is a problem many Hawaiians have poured years into trying to fix to no avail.

      1. Actually your title didn’t bother me 🙂 it got my attention that’s for sure. Sometimes I guess it can bring attention to important issues.

        I am am an animal lover by all means, buy I can’t handle the “save animals, kill humans” remarks. I know many a time it is not literal but we want to show our compassion for life in general.

  14. A birds life is no more important than a cats. It is not the cats fault it was born or tossed into that life. I hope some how they can possibly cage off the areas these birds live from cats. I think they have tried or want to try to do it on the Big Island Mauna Loan area. Sadly it’s not like we have tons of native birds and habitats for them anymore. Concentrate on the areas they are in, continue the TNR and find a system to keep them out. Easier said then done I’m sure 🙂

    1. I agree all life is valuable, but I believe that in this case the birds take priority. Many of these birds are endemic and if they are killed off here they will be extinct forever. Cats are no where near to extinction. Reducing the populations of feral cats is justified if it means preserving our islands biodiversity.

  15. Rumpy you are spot on. The problems that need to be fixed are on the human side. These cats just didn’t magically show up on an island. I’m keeping these little guys in my thoughts. Thanks for the awareness on this issue! Happy Friday! 🙂

  16. A difficult problem, In Kauai I heard they were trying to catch wild cats and take them to the middle of the island, where it’s all forest and waterfall. Don’t think that’s solving the problem either. It’s a dilemma – they have the same problem with chickens on that island – they abound in the thousands, free and producing like rabbits. Surprised the cats don’t bother with the chickens…

  17. How terrible the situation in Hawaii is……..I don’t think that what I think is effective to solve the problem but what about having some sanctuaries to keep those feral cats in? Of course those cats should all get fixed…all the money for it shold be paied by their government…( I know it would be difficult to persuade the government to do it though….)
    I don’t agree to those both ideas that are to kill cats or birds would be victims….

  18. maybe find a little island where the neutered only cats could roam free and live for the rest of their lives.. in about 10yrs which is the average lifespan of cats in a colony the population would slowly go down.. choose a no bird populated island (if there is).. afterall hawaii has lots of islands.. then set up a rescue org that could oversee the welfare of the cats as well as sending them cat food if necessary.. killing them all is unfair..

  19. I hate to say this, but trapping and killing the cas humanely may. At least in the short term, be the most practical solution. If there are me not enough homes for cats, and people are against neutered cats living in feral colonies, the likelihood is that some people will take matters into their own hands and take steps to kill the cats.
    Ideally, all cats and dogs would have safe, happy homes where they are loved and cared for. Sadly, that is far from being the norm.
    Next, I wonder if licensing cat breeders and limiting the number of cats they are allowed to breed might help. Anyone exceeding that allowed number could be heavily fined.
    The problem with an aggressive neutering campaign is that the gene pool,be mes smaller and smaller.
    I agree, it’s the humans who are the problem. I don’t know how you get over the kitten factor and persuade people to adopt adult cats.
    BTW: The idea that bird populations suffer unduly when there are cats around has been disputed by scientific researchers.

  20. I have a friend in Idaho who turned her backyard into a feral cat refuge. She systematically trapped and had each wandering cat spayed (which the humane society there will do for a nominal fee). She now has a small community of about 10 cats that still roam but mainly dwell in her backyard. She feeds them and has winter shelters for them. One by one, her neighbors began to appreciate the idea, and now a group of them help look after the cats. Driving around the block, you’ll see garage doors open about a foot so the cats can go in and out when it’s too hot or cold. She’s one person, but it’s heartwarming and amazing to see how much of a difference she has made in her neighborhood.

  21. So I live on Maui and we had a neighbor that had maybe 4-5 cats. She moved out and apparently couldn’t “find them” in time for the big move so she left them. With no surprise none of them were fixed. We have had so many stray cats in our neighborhood it drives us crazy. They keep breeding and breeding. They piss and shit everywhere. The humane society won’t pick them up. They claw at our outside couch. It goes on and on how annoying it is. Tonight actually, there were a couple of them stomping around on our roof. It doesn’t help that one of our neighbors has kids that like to feed and play with the cats. I can’t take much more of this. Either the humane society needs to figure something out or allow for us to “handle the problem”…

  22. I support protection od all vulnerable life, homeless cats and endangered birds equally. As mass killing of cats won’t work, as people are still the problem. They’ll still not spay and still abandon, and the feral killing cycle will go on. Make spay more easily accessible, free and mandated. Enforce abandonment laws already on the books.dd

  23. You don’t see feral dogs running all over the island. Cats are an independent animal can and will survive without human assistance. Dogs however need humans to survive and they have better personalities than cats. People don’t go to adopt cats as much as they do dogs and some people who have cats and decide they don’t want them can and will release them into the wild. People with dogs however don’t do that. Killing cats is a best solution than spayed and neuter and release. There are far to many that have not been through the process and even after release they continue to be a problem. They still kill native species and leave disease from fesses, dig in your garbage fight and injure other cats as well as dogs. They damage private property and there is a chance if not stopped that they could start, at some possible time we could have a rabies epidemic. Cats should never be allowed outdoors and all cats should be chipped so if they get loose they can be the owners soul responsibility for what they do just like dogs. The population of feral cats is staggering and it’s time to hurry and drop the population before it gets so out of control that we will have no choice but to eradicate as many as we see and ban all people from having them as pets. What’s more important saving endangered species and keeping humans from getting diseases from them or letting them go to where there are just as many cats here as humans. If nothing is done now we could see that in 10 yrs or less. Cats can live up to 10 or more years as long as there is food and water and the food runs out they will wipe out anything they can kill to eat. I have a pet cat and I never let her leave my home and that is how it should be for everyone but killing them is a best solution because not everyone wants a cat and one is more than enough for me. The state of Hawaii needs to be smart about this and stop treating cats like some cute animal that deserves a chance. If the state was responsible in the first place and made everyone register your cat like dogs we wouldn’t be in this mess. Fix it now before it’s to late and stop trying to be the good animal lover. Put a 20 dollar bounty on cats and the people will do the rest until the populations are at a reasonable standard. If we continue to try and figure out a solution we will end up doing what we should have done in the first place and kill off the population.

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