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animal rights | environment

Important Mother's Day Message for those Whose Families Include Cats

It's early spring, and the baby birds are fledging. Look around, they're everywhere. It's beautiful. Baby birds of many species spend some time fledging on the ground before they are fully capable of flight. (This is why so many people think they find "abandoned" birds this time of year.) Usually, they are not abandoned at all, but their mothers are up in the trees watching, and will come down and feed them if you leave them alone.
The problem is, cats and dogs are predators, and humans tend to congregate these predators together in numbers that are not at all in balance with the ecosystem around us. That makes it very, very difficult for little song birds to survive in our gardens.

I live with several cats, and love them all. What is more, I have many neighborhood cats visit my garden often. And there is a stray cat who lives on my porch. Although my cats all live indoors, some of them like to go outside, and usually have free reign. But, not today. Today I have babies fledging all over my garden. And so my cats will all be indoors now, until the babies are all able to take care of themselves out there. They get extra treats, and extra attention, and do not seem to mind. Even my porch cat, who does not care for the other cats or the dogs in my home, had to come in. He's staying in the basement for a few days. (All the cats who go outside, including this one, have bells on their collars, to protect the birds. But even the bells are not enough to prevent them from being a danger to baby birds. So all of them must come in for now.)

I have been carefully watching my garden, keeping neighbor cats out of it. And when I find one who simply will not go away, I put a collar with a bell on it and take it home, explaining to its humans how hard it is for birds to survive in neighborhoods filled with cats. Usually, they are very receptive to this gentle education.

So I'm asking people whose families include cats (or outdoor dogs) to please think about this. No, I'm not anti cat. Far from it. I love cats. And I love birds. My cats get lots of great food, and do not need to be terrorizing the birds out there. I bet the same is true for yours. Please be good to bird babies and bird mothers this spring, and make your cat friends comfy inside for a short time, during this important period in the development of birds.

Dogs too 11.May.2008 20:40

tiac

Thank you for posting this. Please watch those dogs too. Years ago, I had a large playful dog whom I loved dearly. He and I would go for a walk each evening and I never gave a thought to what he might be doing to the bird population. As we headed out of our garden one afternoon, a baby bird flew low by my dog's head and the dog simply turned his head, opened his mouth and killed that poor bird. My dog ran on in search of adventure, not aware of what he had done. The bird parents began calling and calling for their baby. I can honestly say that I have never forgotten that afternoon and still feel terrible for those birds. We do need to realize that our wonderful pets can be horrible predators without even trying. Take responsibility, please.

nothing more i can do 11.May.2008 21:17

gk

My cat kills birds and there is nothing i can do. Bells on her neck don't stop her. She is an indoor-outdoor cat and I cannot keep her inside for weeks or months on end. She likes her fredom out there which is her playground. She deposits the feathers and guts at my doorstep and I sack it and deposit in outside trash. I love my cat, my buddy. It's in her nature and she can't help it. I am so sorry for the birds.

JR 11.May.2008 22:14

Not true

My cats do not kill birds. I do not accept that it is their nature. Cats and dogs learn from us. I have intervened when they were small and caught a bird; I would make them let it go. They knew it did not please me and they stopped. Now they just watch the birds. They have no reason to kill a bird.
They learned not to kill anything I don't want them to kill. I did not want them to kill voles until the voles began to destroy my plants. Then I told my cat he could kill them. the next morning, there were 3 dead voles on the doormat.
The animals understand way more than we tend to give them credit for.
Think about it. Dogs would kill cats if they could but when you bring a cat into the house, the dogs do not kill it.

too easy, GK 11.May.2008 22:31

cat person

I have cats that I love. Three of them. Two are lazy and unlikely to catch anything but maybe a slug or two. The other is a natural hunter whose prey drive is impossible to control. So I do the responsible thing, as you should. I keep her indoors while the birds are fledging. If your cat is out denuding the neighborhood of wildlife, you should be ashamed. Yes, it might be her nature to catch birds, so she can't help herself, but YOU certainly can. In nature, it would be one thing. A cat would not waste calories catching and killing things it did not need to eat. It would kill only enough to eat, rather than anything it can catch, as yours is apparently doing. It would also not be concentrated so near so many other cats who are all doing pretty much the same thing. So its prey drive would not be such an issue. But in a town, in an artificially created environment full of humans and their cat friends, where you are providing it the calories it needs to go out and "play" kill all it wants to, its impact is devastating. PLEASE get your cat indoors. Another thing you can try is those little rubber tips that some vets can apply to their claws. They are temporary, and wear off after a month or so. They don't hurt the cat, like declawing it would. The cat doesn't really notice them, from what I understand, and it prevents them from being quite so destructive.

Really, though, GK, if you are allowing your cat to just go out and kill things at will, you should be ashamed of yourself. If I were your neighbor, and I caught your cat in my garden more than once, your cat would be living in my garage until the baby birds had all fledged. Seriously. This is what I recommend for anyone with neighbors as thoughtless and destructive as GK.

Whoa, hold on a minute 12.May.2008 10:34

Working Class Mama

I respect that people are asking folks to keep there cats in for a little bit. I keep my cats indoors all the time because of this (and several other advantages). But if I ever caught my neighbors trapping neighborhood cats I would beat their face in.

Meow 12.May.2008 10:50

Chirp

If you do have cats there are some basic things to help keep birds safe. Don't them out side when the birds are most active - early morning and evening, and make sure bird feeders don't have cover nearby for cats to hide in.

And if I may suggest, instead of having cats as pets, go out and find some native reptile or amphibian eggs/tadpoles and raise them. They are super-cool to watch grow, and then you can release them back into the wild to restock their populations. I guess they aren't fuzzy and "cute" though...but hey, who wants to help slow the global die-off of frogs? The most important thing is ones own happiness right? Foolish humans....

Cats and birds 12.May.2008 11:54

TNC

You people really, seriously, need to find more important things to get concerned about.


PLEASE KEEP CATS INDOORS!!!! 12.May.2008 13:07

Cat Person

It is EXTREMELY important that people keep their cats indoors. I too have cats. I have had cats all growing up. When I was a child, our cats would hunt birds (most of the birds suffered and were not eaten). I grew up thinking this was natural and ok. But then I got involved in Audubon Society and started learning on how many bird species have been wiped out by cats.
This is a huge problem. I now keep my cats indoors. At some point I hope to live in a house where I can have a closed off area outside that will keep my cats in and the birds out. But until then, the cats need to stay inside. If you care about animals, you will keep your cats indoors. Please read the link below.

 http://www.audubon.org/bird/cat/

ALSO, PLEASE PUT NAME TAGS ON THEIR NECK IF THEY ARE OUTDOORS!!! TOO MANY PEOPLE DO NOT DO THIS!!! But it is better for our planet to keep cats indoors!


My cat caught a Flicker 15.May.2008 15:26

Proud cat cohabitator

The cat I share my home with participates in a catch and release program (Not very popular with local mice rats birds or squirrels). Although the cat lives part time in my house it is not really a house cat. We have to net her if we take her to the vet, though once in a blue moon she will let us pet her once or twice. we could not convert her to a cat box we just let her come and go through a hole in the basement. she really isn't any good for keep mice out of the house because she has a tendancy to import them. she will bring them in and chase them over a two or three day period until they die of fright.

There are actual birds that hang outside our house to screech at her and warn other birds away. They don't seem to screech at other cats in the neighborhood. When she catchs birds we just open windows and doors to let the birds fly out.

I'm not going to imprison this cat. what I want too know is who is going to get rid of all the starlings that are taking habitat from native birds?