This photo of a photo was taken at the Saint Louis Art Museum. For purposes of full disclose, at least regarding this post, I am not a cat fancier. I do not like cats. Being allergic to them, probably doesn’t help. I was initially drawn to this art, because it portrayed cats in an eerie, otherworldly fashion. I especially liked, after reading the following museum writeup that this was the artist’s intent. Skoglund’s Radioactive Cats, must have eighteen half-lives.
Meticulous in construction yet enigmatic in meaning, Sandy Skoglund’s images blend sculpture, painting, installation photography. Her work includes ordinary interiors that are frequently invaded by an over-abundance of animals in exaggerated colors. According to Skoglund, the purpose of Radioactive Cats “was to undermine the stereotype in our culture of the cute, domesticated pet. The cats are meant to dominate the scene as survivors in a post-nuclear situation because they’ve adapted by turning green.”
This post is not just another cat hating rant, because I have data that shows that cats are bad for the environment. Specifically, the latest issue of Nature Communications has a study entitled, “The impact of free-ranging domestic cats on wildlife of the United States”. According to the paper:
Free-ranging domestic cats kill 1.4–3.7 billion birds and 6.9–20.7 billion mammals annually. Un-owned cats, as opposed to owned pets, cause the majority of this mortality. Findings suggest that free-ranging cats cause substantially greater wildlife mortality than previously thought and are likely the single greatest source of anthropogenic mortality for US birds and mammals.
Unlike other species, cats domesticated themselves. Early human agrarian civilization’s stores of grains attracted rodents, who soon attracted cats. Modern civilization has supplanted its need for cats with pesticides and better storage technology. Cats are now effectively parasites on human civilization. Native to Europe, west Asia and the Middle East, they can now be found world-wide, making them the most invasive species on the planet, after us.
On islands the introduction of cats has led to the extinction on many indigenous species. New Zealand is considering banning cats to protect its wildlife. Kansas has a new law on the books this month outlawing more than four cats per household. Sorry, I know the reasons for this law are different, but I just felt like piling on. Closer to home, across the street neighbors had a cat that they allowed to roam free. I routinely found it in our backyard, scoping out our bird feeders along with the occasional pile of disembodied feathers. Its owner refered to it as the alpha predator, to his friends. Fortunately for us, that family has moved away.