TIRADE # 492: DOMESTIC CATS
I am a naturalist and people often think that I am interested in the activities of their house cat. They will describe with a mixture of pride and disgust the mangled, grisly object their cat dumped on the kitchen floor the previous night, the remains of some poor bird or mouse. They make this mistake only once because then I light into them with Ellis tirade #492: the bane of DOMESTIC CATS.
In England researchers found that the five million house cats there kill 20 million song birds every year. Let me repeat that, 20 million birds every single year are killed by cats in a nation of alleged bird lovers. There is no telling what the carnage is in this country.House cats are not native to North America. They were probably first domesticated in the Near East thousands of years ago from a free roaming wild cat. They came to North America on the Mayflower. Worse than the house cats roaming cities and suburbs are the large populations of feral or wild house cats that people have released.
In addition to killing birds, cats also terrorize and kill field mice, moles, shrews, wood rats, gophers, lizards, snakes, bats, and even butterflies. All of these animals are an integral part of the environment and house cats are competing directly for food with our native, natural predators: foxes, bobcats, raccoons, hawks, owls and weasels. Cats are not evil or cruel, they are especially useful around farms for killing agricultural pests. Cats make great indoor pets and can bring comfort to the lonely, elderly or infirm. I don’t hate cats; we have a cat named Kiwi and he stays indoors all the time. Even the humane society recommends keeping cats indoors, mostly for the sake of the cat’s well-being. Most wild bird populations are decreasing dramatically due to habitat destruction by humans. Native animals are having a tough time making it these days. If you have a cat and profess to care for the wild things on our planet then don’t let your pet run free. But if you insist on letting your cat outdoors then it should always wear a bell, preferably a five pound one.
With a Perspective this is Michael Ellis.