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Backpacking with Cats
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Jim MacDiarmid
(jrmacd) - MLife
Backpacking with Cats on 06/10/2009 21:03:40 MDT Print View

Enough about dogs. Anybody backpack with their cat? What breed is best? On or off-leash? What do you do with a wet cat? Bird-Aversion classes?

This is how I pack mine:
catinapack

Craig W.
(xnomanx) - F - M
Re: Backpacking with Cats on 06/10/2009 21:43:08 MDT Print View

Cats rock.
A guy with a cabin in my local mountains had a cat that would hike for miles with you. When he got bored, he'd head home.

Not needy, can be left at home alone for weeks without worry, don't stink, bury their own crap, clean themselves, don't bring dirt in the house and leave your bed stinking, play when you want them to and get the message when you don't...

Dogs are cool but more than I want to deal with right now.

Mark McLauchlin
(markmclauchlin) - MLife

Locale: Western Australia
Re: Backpacking with Cats on 06/10/2009 21:44:26 MDT Print View

Damn but sorry.....why would you want to? Cats are the single biggest introduced pest that account for huge numbers of native animals being wiped out.
Boo to the idea!

cary bertoncini
(cbert) - F

Locale: N. California
cats aren't the single biggest pest on 06/10/2009 21:59:53 MDT Print View

humans are much, much worse

Mark McLauchlin
(markmclauchlin) - MLife

Locale: Western Australia
Re: cats aren't the single biggest pest on 06/10/2009 22:08:07 MDT Print View

I see your humour, however "introduced pest", in the context of this topic, yes they are! At least here they are.

cary bertoncini
(cbert) - F

Locale: N. California
i was serious on 06/10/2009 22:52:08 MDT Print View

western man is the worst introduced pest in australia

followed by the rabbit, fox, rat, cane toad, and yes - cat

rabbit and fox both far worse than the cat

but the thing about all the other "pests" is that they were brought in by western man, so i say a rabbit problem or cat problem is actually a human problem

humans are almost always the problem - we take credit readily but usually try to shed blame

Mark McLauchlin
(markmclauchlin) - MLife

Locale: Western Australia
Re: i was serious on 06/10/2009 23:00:26 MDT Print View

I can see there is no point in arguing you on this with an Avatar like that :).

Cats and pets in general are bad for the native animals, regardless of who introduced them and we should all play a part in stopping it.

cary bertoncini
(cbert) - F

Locale: N. California
my point on 06/10/2009 23:16:02 MDT Print View

is that the damage they do is a small fraction of the damage done by humans

actually 2 points:

the above & that they are only one of many invasive species, and aren't the species having the most impact anywhere, even if we don't count humans

and 2(b): that all of those invasive species were introduced by the human species

i agree we should do something to help. in the last 5 years, my wife and i have neutered over 100 feral cats in our county as part of TNR (trap, neuter, release). we also currently take care of 13 formerly feral cats in our home, at our own expense. we have placed over 50 neutered cats that were once feral in homes & all the people adopting them have signed contracts agreeing to keep their cats indoors.

Dean F.
(acrosome) - MLife

Locale: Back in the Front Range
Re: my point on 06/11/2009 03:46:40 MDT Print View

Cary,

I think your point has been accepted, that humans screw up everything. :-) However, we don't have the human-control options that we do for feral animals.

Saying that humans are worse, or the root of all other introduced species, does not deny that the introduced species are bad. Do you propose, then, that we just let the introduced species run amok, uncontrolled? Obviously not- given your previous post.

So I'm not sure what you're arguing, here...

cary bertoncini
(cbert) - F

Locale: N. California
thought it was pretty clear: on 06/11/2009 05:15:54 MDT Print View

i responded to argue against the erroneous claim that cats are "the single biggest introduced pest that account for huge numbers of native animals being wiped out." there are several other species that are more damaging - in australia, the rabbit is probably the most damaging non-human introduced mammal species. But I mentioned humans mostly for perspective - since the other species are the result of bad behavior on the part of the human species of animal, I think any corrective behavior by human animals should be sensitive to the fact that the introduced "pest" species didn't choose to be there - they didn't invade, they were invited.

What i propose to do about cats in most places is what i have been doing: TNR (trap, neuter, release). I also think jurisdictions should offer low-cost and/or free spay & neuter clinics (some are doing this now) along with education to reduce the number of new introduced ferals. Finally, I advocate implementation of mandatory neuter laws for pets, such as nearly passed a couple years ago in California (there can be provisions for exceptions for licensed breeders, etc.).

No "pest" species once established and thriving will ever be eliminated from a continent. I think some of the mental perspective that allows callous "corrective" measures begins with the idea that they are simply "bad" and their presence is "wrong." If we begin from the idea that their existence in a location, the very fact of their hearts beating, is our responsibility, we can perhaps more readily proceed with a management strategy based in compassion.

Ryan Linn
(ryan.c.linn)

Locale: Maine!
Re: Re: Backpacking with Cats on 06/11/2009 05:56:54 MDT Print View

Craig, you forgot two points:

They're cute, and they kill mice. The perfect animal for camping in a shelter.

Rod Lawlor
(Rod_Lawlor) - MLife

Locale: Australia
Re: thought it was pretty clear: on 06/11/2009 06:19:22 MDT Print View

Cary,

I agree that rabbits are right up there, along with sheep and cattle, but feral cats here can be pretty bad.

I'm not sure what your aim is with TNR. Whilst this is pretty nice to the cat, it doesn't do much for his native dinner for the next couple of years. Having trapped and presumably anaesthetised it, wouldn't it be better on balance to euthanise it, rather than release it?

Mark McLauchlin
(markmclauchlin) - MLife

Locale: Western Australia
Re: Re: Re: Backpacking with Cats on 06/11/2009 06:19:39 MDT Print View

Quote:THREAT ABATEMENT PLAN
for predation by feral cats

"The first recorded instance of cats being brought to Australia was by English settlers in the 18th century, although cats may have arrived much earlier with other human visitors (Baldwin 1980). Cats were deliberately released into the wild during the 19th century to control rabbits and mice (Rolls 1969). Today there are about 18 million feral cats in Australia (McLeod 2004), distributed through all habitats (except some of the wettest rainforests) in mainland Australia and Tasmania and on many offshore islands.
Feral cats are a serious vertebrate pest in Australia, and have severe effects on native fauna. Predation by
feral cats is listed as a key threatening process under the EPBC Act.


End of story...

Doug Johnson
(djohnson) - MLife

Locale: Washington State
Re: Backpacking with Cats on 06/11/2009 06:49:52 MDT Print View

The initial post was not about feral cats in the wild- it was about James backpacking with HIS cat, whom I'm certainly survives off of cat food that he brings along on his trip.

I think this is very interesting James. How do you keep track of your cat? Mine would wander off and certainly doesn't come when I call. :-) How does that work out?

Does she sleep in the tent with you? Do you really carry her in your backpack like that?

Interesting idea...

Thanks, Doug

cary bertoncini
(cbert) - F

Locale: N. California
TNR on 06/11/2009 06:51:42 MDT Print View

all the cats we do TNR with we feed afterward at feeding stations (one ear is clipped for identification - new cats arriving are then TNR'd). we do this at 2 colonies - at one colony entirely at our own expense & at another partially our own expense & largely via funds from a private non-profit group.

they average 3-5 years lifespan as non-reproducing ferals & their impacts on native wildlife are significantly reduced by the feeding stations.

the colony funded mostly by the non-profit has had no feral born kittens in 7 years. Initial TNR resulted in a declining population - population is now mostly stable due to illegal dumping of cats by irresponsible people compensating for deaths or rehabs (some cats are tamed and adopted out - we've done this with a few dozen over the last several years). only 1 person i know of has been caught releasing a cat there & prosecuted, but there is a proposal to install video surveillance in order to improve this statistic.

australia's situation is somewhat different in that there is a wide ranging population in wilderness areas & perhaps it may be better to euthanize depending on location, resources, etc, (even though the benefit is not really the removal of a single cat, but rather the prevention of 1000's of potential offspring - cats are territorial & a living sterile cat prevents a viable cat from occupying that location and reproducing), but i suspect the wild cat may be a permanent part of australia's wildscape, along with the rabbit, cane toad, wild goat, wild pig and many other purposefully introduced species. like many of our similar human follies (the mongoose in hawaii comes to mind), i think the result is the new reality. I think the only way for some of the native species to survive is probably in well protected preserve areas, and i think this is true whether cats are killed mercilessly or left alone entirely.

cary bertoncini
(cbert) - F

Locale: N. California
Doug on 06/11/2009 07:13:11 MDT Print View

I'm guessing that curious kitty just climbed into the pack for the photo op

Backpacking with a cat is not a very good idea - they just panic too easily in unfamiliar places, which can result in a lost cat; I've heard a few sad stories about cats that went on camping trips

Cats are best spoiled at home. I always let the cats living with us smell my pant legs, socks and shoes after a trip - they get to explore the smells of some of the places I've been & really seem to enjoy that, safe in the comfort of their home.

Jim MacDiarmid
(jrmacd) - MLife
Re: Doug on 06/11/2009 09:35:14 MDT Print View

Yeah, mt cat hates being left at home, so anytime she sees something that resembles luggage, she climbs in and makes her self at home . . .not that she really wants to leave the house. She's had to move across the country a few times now, and despite the kitty strength valium the vet has prescribed, she still makes a pretty big fuss. As Cary makes the point, unfamiliar situations freak her out. Though in that case, her reaction would probably be to leave claw marks climbing onto my shoulders.

Outdoor cats, as Mark points out, are a real problem though, and something I think a lot of cat owners (presumably de facto animal lovers) would rather not talk about, so I don't mind my silly thread being hijacked for those purposes.

Dave T
(DaveT) - F
cats. on 06/11/2009 09:51:46 MDT Print View

1. ON TOPIC: i would've LOVED to have a cat with me on the PCT in Washington. my cat could've cut down on the number of mice running over, under, around, and occasionally through my Tarptent.

2. OFF TOPIC: i'm an animal lover, but i couldn't disagree more with the concept of TNR for feral cats in wildland/transitional areas. i'm sure the lizard, vole, or endangered clapper rail that cat kills today (and for the next 3-5 years) is pleased that it was killed by a neutered cat who won't reproduce down the line. i have compassion for the the native animals who are trying to survive in degraded habitats, not for the introduced pet animals which actively hunt and kill them. do the former not deserve compassion and a chance to survive in their native habitat? (of course, cat owners should also keep their pet cats indoors)

to take it to another Chaff-appropriate level: why not set up TNR/feeding stations for starlings, European green crabs, and whatnot? i can see folks at Lake Davis feeding baby ducklings to northern pike, while humanely neutering them. perhaps we can set up a watering, fertilizing, and flower de-heading program for yellow star thistle! it might take a while to pull all the flowers of a Tamarisk after installing drip irrigation on it, but it does deserve the right to grow in that desert wetland. etc.

Edited by DaveT on 06/11/2009 10:10:10 MDT.

cary bertoncini
(cbert) - F

Locale: N. California
yes on 06/11/2009 10:31:26 MDT Print View

the "former" deserve compassion and a chance to survive, which they have: they have a chance to survive. they aren't being systematically targeted for eradication, they are being left alone in nature to survive, which includes being part of the same predator/prey dynamic with the cats.

however clapper rail is probably not the best choice, since they live in marsh environments, which are not very amenable to cats. actually few birds are in much danger from cats - cell phone towers may be responsible for
more bird deaths each year (one reason i refuse to own a cell phone). a study done in golden gate park found, in fact, that the cats in the park had a net beneficial effect on bird populations. why? because while some cats are adept at preying on birds, all cats are particularly adept at preying on rodents; rats are adept at climbing up high to bird nests and eating eggs and baby birds - in golden gate park, the cat predation on rats resulted in a better survival ratio for baby birds. a large number of cats in an area does tend to affect bird some populations in a very local way, but mostly because the birds simply move, mostly not because of predation.

the cats we work with are fed - they do very little killing, which is why managed colonies are the way to go.

the biggest problem i have is the scapegoating that goes on. in the case of birds, for example, cats are often mentioned as a major factor. this is simply not true. they are a factor - a minor factor. habitat loss is responsible for over 90% of the impact on n. american bird species. various pollution impacts are about 5% more. human hunting activities, cell phone towers, airports and airplanes, and cats are each around 1%.

in n. america, we don't have and won't ever have the same problem as exists in australia - it is a unique environment. there are quite a lot of species there that evolved without a significant primary predator. the normal predator/prey scenario is not in their programming & they are disadvantaged against many of the newer, introduced predators. feral cats in n. america have to compete with some very well adapted predators for some very well adapted prey. house cats will not out compete coyotes, bobcats, mountain lions anywhere they are the primary predators, just to name the top 3. in most n. american wilderness situations, a feral housecat is as much prey as it is predator & in many it is easy prey. where they live in numbers is in urban and suburban environments - which is where managed TNR is efficient & effective.

Jay Wilkerson
(Creachen) - MLife

Locale: East Bay
Backpacking with Cats on 06/11/2009 10:47:12 MDT Print View

P6270223

Cat's are cool!! They always help me set up my shelter.