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Meow How? Should I keep My Cat Indoors?
Cats...We love 'em or hate 'em....or just ignore them altogether. We think they are kings or nuisances. But America has millions and millions of them. And the fact is that millions of them are free-roaming cats that are having a tremendous impact on our native wildlife.
My sister, who maintains a Bluebird Trail, recently told me that she saw a cat jump straight up in the air about 5 feet and catch a Bluebird. That story stunned me, and I decided to share the following information with my readers who might have been as uneducated about the realities of our pet cats as I was.
If you are a cat lover, will you bear with me until this article is complete? I love cats, and I love wildlife. And that causes a very real conflict in my mind. I like my pets to experience freedom...but what I have now learned has altered my way of thinking about pet cats...and feral cats...and I'd like to share the facts and alternatives with you.
Here are important facts from "The Campaign for Safer Birds and Cats," which is sponsored by the American Humane Association, the American Bird Conservancy and The Humane Society of the United States.
--------- NOTE: The following article contains strong facts...but there are helpful solutions: ---------
Today's cat owners face an important decision: "Should I keep my cat indoors?" Let's consider the realities facing both cats and our native wildlife.
And regarding wildlife:
Today, birds and other wildlife face more obstacles to survival than ever before. Habitats are destroyed and degraded every day and many species are declining as a result. Even the impact of natural predators is affecting populations. And the presence of an non-native predator -- the domestic cat -- is having an impact as well.
Scientists estimate that cats kill hundreds of millions of birds each year and three times as many small mammals. Most birds killed by cats are members of relatively common species, like
By letting our cats outside, we -- perhaps without intent -- place a higher value on the freedom of our pet than on the life of those birds or chipmunks or voles that it kills.
As a descendant of the wild cat of Africa and southwestern Asia, the domestic cat instinctively hunts and captures prey. Wildlife in the Western Hemisphere did not evolve in the presence of a small, abundant predator like the domestic cat, and thus did not develop defenses against them. Cats were introduced in North America by European immigrants only a few hundred years ago.
And cats are not adapted to life in the wild, either. Outdoor domestic cat populations are most commonly found in and around human settlements; most do not survive without direct or indirect support by humans.
Myths and Truths about Cats and Birds"Belled" cats do kill wildlife. Cats with bells on their collars can learn to stalk their prey silently. And wild animals do not necessarily associate the ringing of a bell with danger.
Even well-fed cats kill wildlife. The urge to hunt and the urge to eat are controlled by different portions of the cat's brain.
Once caught by a cat, few birds survive, even if they appear to have escaped. Infection from the cat's teeth or claws or the stress of capture usually results in death.
Tips for Happy Indoor CatsKittens who are kept indoors usually show no desire to venture outside as cats. With patience we can change most adults cats who roam outdoors into happy indoor pets. These tips will help.
For more information on how to responsibly manage cats and other predatory pets, you can contact the following organizations:
Cats Indoors! The Campaign for Safer Birds and Cats
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