Lynch, Jessica, and Christopher Kelty. (n.d.). “Another Insane Devotion: TNR, Feral/Domestic Cats, and Niche Expansion.” Labyrinth Project Working Paper 2021; Manuscript available upon request.
Why are cats everywhere? Based on research into the controversy around feral or community cats and ‘TNR’ (Trap, Neuter, Return) in Los Angeles, this paper posits that the modern domestic cat has demonstrated abilities toward multidimensional “niche expansion” and “niche space saturation” that allow it to succeed and increase in population density through behavioral diversification, where other creatures (including its felid relatives) might not be able to. This niche expansion is also a story of human collaboration with cats throughout history, not just a story of human “domestication.” Niche expansion and collaboration allow us to think beyond the stories of human intentionality (at the heart of theories of domestication, as well as those of the “anthropocene”) which overlook distinctive aspects of feline biological and evolutionary capacity, and overestimate human capacities for control.