Cats!

Catbird ©Janet AllenCatbird or cat food?

I decided to be content with just an exclamation point, but I'd rather title this "darn cats" (or even stronger).

I didn't start out feeling this way, having grown up with cats I enjoyed.

I know they can be good companions for people, BUT I WISH PEOPLE WOULD KEEP THEM INSIDE (or at least in their own yards)!

People are required to keep dogs on a leash and under control, so why not cats?

Cat in our yard ©Janet AllenA cat in our yard, waiting for our chipmunk to come out of his hole

Of course it's easier for cat owners to just let cats roam, but it's not fair to birds, and it's not fair to people who don't want cats in their yard, often digging in their gardens.

Besides birds, they have killed our chipmunks, which we enjoy.

(It's not safe for the cats either.)

Wren chattering at a cat invader ©Janet Allen
A stressed-out mother wren chattering at a cat invader

Consider:

  • No, it isn't just part of nature. Domesticated cats aren't native to North America, and so native creatures haven't evolved defenses against them as they have with native predators.
  • Cats invade our yard preying on the creatures we're working hard to provide habitat for.
  • A large feral cat population—getting its food by killing birds and other small creatures—has an enormous impact. And this unspayed population leads to a larger and larger population. Simply unsustainable and not good for anyone.

Yes, even Fluffy

Feathers ©Janet AllenThe remains of one of my birds

I'm always amazed when people claim that their little "Fluffy" never kills birds. Statistics show that cats kill hundreds of millions of birds, in addition to chipmunks and other little creatures.

Even cats with bells kill birds. Even well-fed cats kill birds. Chances are that Fluffy is one of the ones participating in this carnage unbeknownst to its owner.

It's just cats' nature to hunt. It's not the cats I blame.

Solutions?

My coffee can ©Janet Allen
My cat-scarer

There's not much a non-cat owner like myself can do. Our back yard is fenced. This slows them down a bit, but it doesn't keep them out. Why not leash laws for cats as there are for dogs?

My technique: I keep an old metal can filled with a few nuts and bolts by the door. When I see a cat, I run after them, shaking my coffee can and making a horrible racket (an amusing sight for onlookers, I'm sure.)

I hope it makes cats think twice before coming into my back yard. Of course, I'm not watching the front yard, but I know they're often out there, sitting in prime bird areas, waiting to kill birds and other creatures I'm providing habitat for.

Having pets

Monarch pupa ©Janet Allen
A monarch we raised

We're enjoying all the creatures in our yard— without the vet bills or responsibility that pets entail.

(Although I did find myself looking for someone to take care of my monarch pupae when we went camping one summer!)

Our dog ©Janet Allen
Part of our family during our children's childhood

More philosophically, I think that we may focus our affections so much on our domestic pets that it may diminish our connection with creatures in nature.

This doesn't happen with everyone, of course. It's possible to enjoy both wild creatures and companion pets. And companion animals can indeed provide companionship in a sometimes-unfriendly world.

BUT that doesn't mean we should have to have other people's pets in our yard. AND it doesn't mean that it's ethical to let them prey on wild creatures.