Captain's Cabin

Pirate Lord of the Platinum Coast
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Monday, April 7, 2008

Myth Monday - Stephens Island Wren

Myth Monday Header

black cat,Diamond
Click on image to bigify.

I was researching an article for Myth Monday, but was feeling kind of lazy until I ran across this one thing that got me hot under the collar.

From Wikipedia: "As a consequence of their exceptional hunting ability, cats can be quite destructive to ecosystems in which they are not native, where local species have not had time to adapt to feline introduction. In some cases, cats have contributed to or caused extinctions — for example, see the case of the Stephens Island Wren. Due to their hunting behavior, in many countries feral cats are considered pests."

The Stephens Island Wren was flightless bird that lived on the main islands of New Zealand and became extinct in or around 1895. The popular story is that entire population was killed by the lighthouse keeper's cat.

Scientific evidence now suggests however, that the species was killed due to predation by the Polynesian Rat, which was introduced by the Maori via their ships.

In fact it was the cat, supposedly named Tibbles, who brought the carcass of one of the birds to the lighthouse keeper's housing and called it to the attention of David Lyall, the assistant lighthouse keeper, who then made the existence of the bird known to science.

Tibbles, as you can tell, was actually a great naturalist, to have recognized the significance of this discovery.

It was someone named Walter Rothschild who later claimed that one lone cat killed all of the birds on the island.

We may be efficient predators, but that would certainly be quite a feat for one cat!

In many cases, the species that we are being accused of "hunting to extinction" are usually threatened by loss of habitat in the first place, and THAT can be squarely pinned on the shoulders of humanity. Cats don't build buildings, although we don't hesitate to take them over if the situation allows.

In truth, the building of the lighthouse on the island lead to the introduction of the rats which eventually killed the birds. So PLEASE. Do not blame us cats. Put the blame on the humans who introduce efficient and lethal predators into a strange environment without any thought of what might happen because of it.

It isn't the Feral Cats who are the pests. They are only trying to survive. It's the humans who dumped them and left them to a feral existence in the first place that are the biggest nuisances to the ecological system.

Vine Line

April is National Pet First Aid Month

Be prepared and be aware. There is no 911 for pet emergencies. Quick action on the part of your caretakers could save your life during an emergency!

Whatever the emergency - a small cut on a cat’s paw or a full-blown life threatening situation such as a pet needing rescue breathing or CPR - being prepared can increase your pet’s chances of survival. According to the American Animal Hospital Association, one in four more pets would survive an emergency if a first aid technique was applied. That’s twenty-five percent!

There may be programs in your area to help your caretaker learn First Aid techniques. Visit to find out more about trainers and programs in your area.


jan said...

You are so correct. Our ancestor, the wolf, has gotten blamed for so much they never did. It was an excuse to kill them for many years. Bad beans.

Misty the alpha Poodle

Tybalt said...

You are so right, Diamond! BRAVA!

Parker said...

::Claps Paws::
Amen Diamond - Amen!

wildcatsthree said...

We were thinking that had to be one busy kitty to have killed off all the birds. Cats have been around forever and yet they blame us kitties for something man has done. So typical. Great story Diamond.
Jackie, Gidget and Lola the new kid

Daisy said...

Diamond, you are so smart! Thanks for telling the real truth. Rats are the bad guys here, and the people who introduced the rats. And anybody who abandons a cat.

Cheysuli and gemini said...

I think cats are easy to blame because we can't talk back...

catsynth said...

We agree, too. Cats get blamed for so much that humans and other species are responsible for.

That having been said, you are the "might hunter" in those photos...

Jewelgirl said...

Most predatory animals get blamed
for the loss of species. They are
blamed because they cannot speak for themselves. What's the saying
"survival of the fittest"? This
is natures way. Purrrrs!

Mickey said...

That was an excellent post Diamond!!! Many more species are destroyed by beans themselves!!! Look at what they are doing to the polar bears with their pollution and global warming!
Thanks also for the link!!!!!!!
Purrs Mickey

-d ma said...

I've tagged u for a neat lil meme.

Zippy, Sadie and Speedy said...

It's good to hear somecat tell the truth! We really get a little hot about dem dumb beans here who built condos and apartment all around da rivers and pave over everything and den buy up acres of farm land and build big houses and offices and pave over dat and den complain when da snow melts and da rain comes dat dey flood every year. Ugh, some beans is dumber den rocks.