Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Cats Are Birds' No. 1 Enemy

We wanted to share the following New York Times article with you: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/21/science/21birds.html

It is titled, "Tweety Was Right: Cats Are a Bird’s No. 1 Enemy". The article discusses a study that took place in Washington D.C. suburbs on cats and fledgling Gray Catbirds. It states that "Nearly 80 percent of the birds were killed by predators, and cats were responsible for 47 percent of those deaths." That is obviously a very high percentage, but one that does not surprise me. I recently wrote a blog entry (click here to read it) with a long story about my cat. Near the end I mentioned, as the article does, that according to the American Bird Conservancy cats kill at the very least over 500 million birds in the United States each year. The actual total is likely much higher.

Any cat that is outside will kill wild birds, rodents, and more. I am not just a bird person. I can speak from a position of having been around cats my entire life, having owned many, trapped strays, followed and studied outdoor cats in the field, and so forth. They are nearly always sweet and lovable creatures, but they are still killers. It is their natural instinct. It is the responsibility of a cat owner to keep that cat in their home. Of course they want to go outside - my cat Toby tries to get out each and every day - but they need to be kept indoors if only for their own protection, let alone that of the birds and other wildlife.

Cats that are outside can be killed by vehicles or aggressive dogs, harmed by careless people or other cats, and are much more prone to disease. They can ingest deadly chemicals, acquire fleas and ticks quite easily, be injured or killed in falls or other accidents, and be eaten by predators like coyotes, bears, owls, and more. We have all seen beloved pets run down in the road, and I have seen dismembered cats and much more I will not detail while in the field. You do not want your cat leaving your home. If you love your cat, let alone care about or respect the natural world, you must keep it indoors. On the rare days when Toby has gotten out the door while I let my dog out I have run him down like his life depends on it - because it does. Making cats stay indoors at all times will give them much longer, healthier lives while sparing the lives of countless birds. It's win-win for conservation and cats.

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