Nature & You: Scientists decry the impact of your house cat on wild songbirds
As I've mentioned in some of my previous columns, I am an avid bird-watcher. In fact, a very large quantity of my personal treasure has been spent on bird seed with which to stock the wild bird feeding station in my home's front yard at all seasons of the year.
Numerous scientific studies have come to the inescapable conclusion that domestic cats have an equally-intense interest in wild birds, especially if those "house" cats have access to the outdoors. I've seen all of the chilling statistics. The numbers of wild birds that are captured and killed by "house" cats is staggering.
There was a time that this sobering story of wildlife decimation did not give me much pause. I did not particularly like cats, and I sure as blazes wouldn't ever consider having one as a pet.
Did you catch that?
I used the verb in the past tense. I said "did" instead of "do."
Several years back, my attitude toward domestic cats experienced an abrupt reversal.
This story starts when some ne'r-do-well drove down the country road in front of my home and tossed an unwanted kitten out on my home's front lawn. My only crime was that I had the porch light on — signaling that our home was occupied by people who could — I suppose — function as foster parents for an unwanted, orphan kitten.
The tiny bundle of fluff started caterwauling its lament, and this eventually caught my attention. When I went outside to investigate, I discovered an extremely frightened kitten who eyed me with no small measure of apprehension.
My wife came outside and inquired as to what was going on. I explained to her that we needed to corral the tyke so that I might take it to the dog pound when they opened up for business on the following day.
My beloved spouse cuffed the side of my noggin with one of her disapproving knuckle-delivered reprimands and informed me that we'd do nothing of the sort. She assigned me the task of standing guard over the waif so that she might make a quick trip to the store in order to purchase some specialty food for a tiny kitten such as this.
Flash forward many years later. Do you want to guess whose cat this is now? Yep! That cat and I are inseparable bosom buddies now. The surprising thing about this is that this cat barely tolerates my wife's presence; there is no strong bond of affection between the cat and my wife. All that I can figure is that the cat cannot fathom the English language and, as such, is completely oblivious to my initial thoughts on pet ownership.
My cat lives part of its life outdoors as well as having part-time access to our home's living room.
I feed it well, but the cat insists on capturing (and dining on) field mice, packrats and cottontail bunnies. I have made it very clear to the cat that I will not condone the capture and death of my beloved songbirds. My cat is not stupid. He knows full well what I expect of him. It shocks me when I, on occasion, come upon a small pile of disassembled bird body parts on our home's back stoop. Hate it as I must, I just can't force myself to confine my furry buddy to an entire life inside our home. My only saving grace is that the cat is no longer the spry youngster that he once was, and this has somewhat ratcheted down his hunting prowess.
It all just goes to prove that a bird killer and a bird lover can happily coexist in the same loving home.