Disapproving Cats!

My mother's (indoor) cat, Copernicus

"It's time to go to the mattresses!!"

According to the Minneapolis Star Tribune, some zealot in Wisconsin wants to make it legal to shoot feral cats by putting them in the catagory of an unprotected species (along the same lines as house sparrows, starlings and rock pigeons). This will no doubt set the Cats Indoors! campaign back a good five years. Cats do kill millions of songbirds every year, but many cats are wonderful companions and shooting them is not the answers. This is a touchy area that requires tact and patience not guns. Cat people think bird people are weird enough (and vice versa). Now instead of gradually getting people to see the benefits of raising cats indoors we have some "let's just shoot it out of our way" attitude introduced as legislation which is just going to lead to arguing and name calling and quite frankly no one really listening to each other.

The cats killing songbirds is not an issue that will be solved overnight and no amount of legislation is going to heal this issue. It will take gradual change. I've known birders who have cut ties with friends and family over this issue and I don't think that's worth it. I try to give the facts and let my friends and family do with it what they will. People love their pets and want to try and give them as much love and freedom as possible, but songbirds do pay the price. I find that most cat owners love their cats and would prefer to keep a blind eye as to how many birds their cats kill than keep them indoors, kind of like parents not wanting to admit their teenagers are drinking or smoking pot. Ultimately they love their cats and I can't fault them for that. If I cut off my friendship with someone because of their cat killing the occasional bird is that going to make them change their minds? No, they will think I'm crazy in the bad way and not in the likeable way. All I ask is that friends and family at least make an effort not to have their cat kill birds in front of me and so far that arrangement has worked. People should also remember turn about is fair play. I do have a friend whose cat survived a great-horned owl attack when it was very young.

My big concern is that someday in the near future we might see vigilanties "getting rid" of free roaming cats. Years ago before I was even aware of the Cats Indoors! campaign I knew someone whose cat was poisoned by a neighbor that didn't like other people's pets on his property. That was enough to convince me never to leave my pets outside unsupervised. I hope we can find a common ground on this issue but I think it is a long way down the road.