Monday, September 10, 2012

Alley Cat Allies Tells ABC's 20/20 to Get Their Facts Straight

Alley Cat Allies, the only national advocacy organization dedicated to the protection and humane treatment of cats, has derided ABC’s 20/20 after the program aired a sensational segment about outdoor cats and wildlife predation, but ignored the species with the greatest impact on wildlife: people.

“20/20 aired this segment without first checking the facts,” said Becky Robinson, president and co-founder of Alley Cat Allies. “The program did not bother to turn to cat experts for fairness, balance or truth. It also ignored the massive scientific evidence pointing to people as the true cause of wildlife decline, with the greatest impacts caused by habitat loss, pollution, and urban sprawl.”

Ironically, the program was titled, “The Camera Never Lies,” but 20/20’s segment on cats was full of half-truths and misleading information.

The 20/20 segment misused unpublished data by the University of Georgia in which researchers used “kitty cams” attached to collars to follow a small group of pet cats in suburban Athens, Georgia. In one week, the 55 cats caught five birds. While erroneous headlines have trumped the cats’ natural instincts, the researchers actually found that the majority of cats studied were not hunters, and birds were by far not a major target.

Alley Cat Allies also called out 20/20 for turning to the American Bird Conservancy for comment, even though this group’s propaganda and distortions have been roundly criticized.

“The American Bird Conservancy is known for spreading fictions about outdoor cats and making wild extrapolations about their imagined impact on other species,” said Robinson. “ They've used unpublished data to fuel their extremist agenda of killing cats. There just isn't evidence that shows cats have any negative impact on bird populations.”

Readers interested in contacting ABC News about the segment will find an online form here.


  1. Unless an animal can be confined in it's own yard, it should not be allowed outside. Cat, dog, rabbit, goat, turtle, pet rocks, whatever animal it may be, it does not have the right to be off it's own property. For the safety of the animal, for the safety of other animals, and to be FAIR to dogs who MUST be in their own yard or leashed when they are not, cats do not need to be running the streets. It is dangerous for them and anything they "might" hunt. Even if a cat does not hunt, it should not be allowed to do as it pleases outside of it's own yard. Cats have rights, but they do not have the right to trespass. WHY is ok for cats, but not dogs? I have NEVER met a stray dog that a threat to a human, although I know they are out there. But are stray dogs tolerated? No. ANd there is a good reason for it. However, cat owners should be held to the same laws and standards that dog owners are held.
    For the ten millionth time, I have no problems with cats. They do what cats do and that is the way they are made. Equal dignity, equal treatment, equal for all animals, from hamsters to horses. Let's put no animal above the other.
    Remember Orwell's Animal Farm...All animals are equal (and NONE should be more equal than others)

    1. Brandi - I agree with you that it is best to keep pet cats inside. However, the American Bird Conservancy is using this study to promote it's Trap-and-Kill agenda for stray and feral cats. Alley Cat Allies advocates for the rights of all cats - indoors and outdoors.

  2. Go Becky go!!! It is strange that in a piece about cats, they asked the bird people for their opinion. Sheesh.... so much for fair and non-judgmental reporting. I think it should be apparent by now that PEOPLE are the bigger threat to all wildlife as opposed to ferals.

  3. You cant reason with a little bird that sees a cat and is afraid. Is that fair to the bird? Hell no. But as long as the cat gets a dose of fresh air, and all the places in the neighborhood to wander as it pleases, it's ok for cat owners to allow it, and to hell with the little prey animals who are frightened with or without cause? Cats are naturally afraid of dogs, though my dog would NEVER hurt a cat. If I let my dog run around the of someone with a cat, that cat owner would see red. It would not matter that my dog is friendly with cats, only that it is scaring someone's beloved pet.
    And saying that we people are a bigger threat is true, but does not negate outdoor pet cats as a threat. Thats like saying because I have a show about ice cream making people fat that I should not ignore McDonalds making people fat because more people eat big macs than ice cream.
    Keep your cats inside. NO ONE can argue with keeping their cats inside. Feral cats are another issue entirely and NO, they should not be exterminated. The issue was about PET cats.

    1. Brandi - I don't disagree with you about pet cats staying inside. The issue here is that 20/20 presented a very one-sided version of the story. The American Bird Conservancy uses figures from this study of 55 cats in Georgia and extrapolates them to make "national estimates", which is simply not good science (see more at

    2. Vicki, it gets worse. Conclusions were based on the habits of only SEVENTEEN cats. And it was *not* a scientific study. We know this because we're a house of scientists.

      This makes my blood pressure rise. It takes ...wait, I'll time it... 7.75 seconds to do the math. A sampling of 17 cats represents 0.00000202% of the estimated 84-85 million pet cats in the US (source: APPA).

      One *cannot* extrapolate a statistically relevant statement based on: a single non-scientific study, based in one town, and using a database of 17 cats.

      And anyone who accepts such nonsense must be biased. Or - dare we suggest - lazy, naive or stupid?

      Our big beef is with the lack of investigative journalism surrounding this issue.

      Does no reporter bother to do any research at *all* any more?

      30 seconds to google cat population estimates in the U.S., 7.75 seconds to run a percentage... wow HUGE time investment there. (:::sarcasm:::)

      And the *graduate student's* report is actually available online for anyone who cares to invest - *gasp* - about half an hour of their precious time to watch it. Dare we ask our news sources to actually WORK to provide us with reputable and responsible stories?!?


  4. I went to the American Bird Conservancy website, as well as Ally Cat Allies.
    What I am getting is emotion on one end and reason on the other. I am not seeing any cat hating on the ABC end. Yes, euthanasia was mentioned, but was not the overwhelming opinion, whereas Trap, Neuter, REMOVE (instead of release) was mentioned quite a bit. However, even if euthanasia (I am NOT advocating this) were used to control feral cat population, how would it be any different than allowing hunting of deer, turkey, etc during hunting season, as part of culling wild herds. At least euthanasia is more humane than several shots to the head or body.
    No one wants to see any animal eradicated. There is NO easy solution to any of these problems.
    But at least on ABC side, there are attempts at TRYING to solve the issue so both cats and birds win. THose numbers may be wrong, but to label ABC as a monster is a bit reactionary. I also don't see much compassion for birds and other wildlife on the part of ACA, just a lot of finger pointing.
    BUT, I guess it does not make sense to me because I am not a cat person and do not understand cat people. If this were an issue about rabbits, I doubt I would be able to be rational if rabbits were being blamed and demonized. I would be very angry at anyone who said something negative about rabbits.
    I don't think ABC is using numbers from THIS particular study to come up with their estimates. It sounds like Fish and Wildlife folks are coming up with their own figures, and it has nothing at all to do with that story.

    1. Here is a quote from the ABC press release in August: "If we extrapolate the results of this study across the country and include feral cats, we find that cats are likely killing more than 4 billion animals per year, including at least 500 million birds. Cat predation is one of the reasons why one in three American bird species are in decline.” So they did use one very small study with only FIVE birds being killed to come up with an "estimate" of 500 MILLION birds killed annually! You can find the full release here:

  5. a problem all round,I believe pet owners should be responsible for their animals after what happened to Speedy and while I love cats too uncontrolled breeding of cats it a problem too with the impact on the environment