PUHI — It’s no secret that Kaua‘i is home to many endemic and endangered birds.
There are many threats to these birds other than pets, but keeping cats inside is one easy way to do a part in helping protect native ecosystems.
Indoor cats not only help protect the native wildlife, but it also ensures pet cats will live longer lives because it eliminates the risks of being hit by cars, going missing, being attacked by dogs or by people, picking up diseases, or becoming injured or trapped.
In an effort to cultivate the importance of cats belonging inside, the Kaua‘i Humane Society has partnered with Pacific Birds Habitat Joint Venture to offer a variety of incentives and educational opportunities to the community.
Society Executive Director Nicole Schafer Crane said hers is an advocacy and enforcement agency. It’s important to advocate for the cats and dogs on the island, but also for Kaua‘i’s wildlife.
“The Kaua‘i Humane Society focuses on dogs and cats, but we share the land and environment with lots of animals, from yellow-faced bees to Laysan albatrosses to green sea turtles,” Crane said. “It is important to the Kaua‘i Humane Society to find ways to support the protection of our island of Kaua‘i and all the animals that reside on it, and these partnerships help us accomplish that goal.”
As a part of this educational campaign, the society and Pacific Birds Habitat Joint Venture offered two joint educational workshops in 2022, one virtual and one at the Puhi shelter. All information from these workshops including how to keep indoor cats healthy, happy and enriched can be found at https://kauaihumane.org/cats-belong-indoors/.
Additionally, the society encourages every adopter and current cat owner to sign the Pono Cat Parent Pledge promoting indoor cats created by a working group with members from National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Hawaiian Humane Society, Kaua‘i Humane Society, Pacific Birds Habiat Joint Venture and multiple other agencies.
Everyone who submits a pledge from now to the end of February will be put into a raffle drawing to be held at the end of February. The prize will include an indoor enrichment package with a vertical cat scratcher, cozy cat bed, organic cat nip and a crinkle play mat.
Cat owners can sign the pledge at the shelter or https://kauaihumane.org/cats-belong-indoors/.
Pacific Birds Hawai‘i Habitat Joint Venture Conservation Coordinator Helen Raine said Kaua‘i is home to some of the rarest seabirds and water birds in the world, some of which live right next to urban areas.
Raine said because these birds evolved on our isolated islands without mammalian predators, they never had to develop anti-predator strategies. She said this means that they are quite literally sitting ducks when it comes to depredation by cats and other predators.
“Cats aren’t the only pressure these birds face (vehicle strike, powerline collision, disease and habitat loss play a part), but at least we can more easily do something about keeping cats indoors,” Raine said.
“We have five threatened and endangered water birds on Kaua‘i. Both the ‘alae‘ula (Hawaiian common gallinule) and the koloa maoli (Hawaiian duck) populations are estimated to number less than 1,000 individual birds worldwide, with most of them on Kaua‘i,” Raine said.
“The ‘alae ke‘oke‘o (Hawaiian coot) and the ae‘o (Hawaiian stilt) have around 2,000 individuals across the state. And there are just over 3,000 nene (Hawaiian goose).”
The partnership work included commissioning a local muralist, Trysen Kaneshige, to create eye-catching art around the shelter. The Petco store in the Hokulei Village Shopping Center in Puhi is also participating, and will soon place “KHS approved indoor enrichment” signs within the store by products the society recommends offering for indoor cats.
Crane said creating an indoor cat environment and spaying and neutering are the best ways cat owners can do their part in protecting wildlife.
“Pets that are not neutered or spayed are more likely to roam, which not only puts pets in danger (such as being hit by a vehicle or fights with other animals), but can also bring pets and wildlife close together, leading to the potential injury or death of wildlife,” Crane said.
“By spaying and neutering we can also reduce unwanted litters that may become free-roaming dogs and cats. These free-roaming dogs and cats also have the potential to hurt wildlife, like native birds.”
Source: The Garden Island
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