We live in a country of cat lovers. About 80 million cats live in our homes today, but what about the other 80 million living outside of the house?

In the next episode of Reveal on Thursday at 1PM on WHRV 89.5, we take a look at two cats whose fates diverged – one, an invasive predator, is encouraged to thrive and hunt; the other, a native wildcat, is being hunted and trapped.

Segment 1 - How cruelty killed the bobcat

A trapper carries bobcat pelts tagged by the Nevada Department of Wildlife. The number of bobcat pelts exported from the U.S. has quadrupled in recent years, climbing to more than 65,000 in 2013.You’ve probably never seen a bobcat.
It’s an elusive creature that’s about two to three times the size of a house cat – a feline with distinctive spotted fur that’s coveted around the world.
In many states in the U.S., it’s legal to trap and kill bobcats, a native and abundant wild feline. It’s also legal to capture the cats with steel-jaw traps – tools so hazardous and indiscriminate that they’ve been banned in more than 80 countries. And it’s not just how bobcats are caught that’s controversial – it’s the gruesome way many are killed to protect their pelts: strangulation.
By using what are called choke poles, trappers prevent blood from staining the bobcat’s fur, which makes the pelts more valuable.
The number of bobcat pelts exported from the U.S. has quadrupled in recent years, climbing to more than 65,000 in 2013. And so far, fur trapping is not threatening the bobcat population.
It’s with this in mind that reporter Tom Knudson and producer Ike Sriskandarajah examine what’s really at stake when trapping bobcats: how we define cruelty.

Segment 2 - Saving feral cats is humane – but there’s a catch

According to the latest survey, there are roughly 80 million cats living in the wild in the U.S. These cats live and thrive in almost every county across the country.We have more cats than dogs in our homes today. But for every pet cat curled up in our laps, there’s another one roaming our alleyways, parks and other places around the country: 80 million of them. If you don’t see many of them, it’s because several are feral and avoid human contact.

Right now, the question of how to best control these cats is sparking a lot of controversy. At issue is whether they are pets gone astray that we should be protecting or invasive predators that are decimating local wildlife.

For generations, animal shelters have tried to curb the wildcat population in two ways: adoption or euthanasia. Conservation groups want animal control agencies to limit the population because cats kill lots of native wildlife. But cat lovers say they have a more humane and effective way to reduce the number of feral cats – and their message is catching on.

Producer Adithya Sambamurthy takes us deep inside the feral cat movement to examine what this cat fight is all about.


The mission of The Center for Investigative Reporting is to engage and empower the public through investigative journalism and groundbreaking storytelling in order to spark action, improve lives and protect our democracy. You can hear these investigative reports most Thursdays at 1pm on WHRV 89.5  FM.