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Cats Cause “Silence of the Songbirds”

By Gary Bogue
Wednesday, December 5th, 2007 at 7:38 am in Primal Rant.

PRIMAL RANT:

Gary: I just borrowed the book, “Silence of the Songbirds,” (ref: pgs 173-176) by Bridget Stutchbury. I hope you have a chance to scan it.

Would you please do a column encouraging people with pet cats to keep them indoors? You know, I’m sure, that cats are a huge problem for birds nesting and birds that cannot fly well. To estimate the numbers of birds killed, homeowners in Michigan were asked to count up the dead animals their cats brought home.

On average, each cat killed about one bird a week and though this may not sound like much, the damage adds up because there are so many free-ranging cats hunting near homes and farms. The 600 cats in this study would have killed more than 6,000 birds during a typical 10-week breeding season alone.

In another study done in Wisconsin in the early 1990s, an estimated 8 million to 17 million birds a year in that state alone were killed by free-ranging cats in rural areas.

To quote from the book: “cats are only doing what comes naturally but their predation on birds is not a natural part of the ecosystem.”

Domestic cats were introduced to No. America when the Europeans arrived and only became popular in the late 1800s. The number of cats in the U.S. alone has doubled since the 1960s and now stands at well over 75 million. Even well-fed cats kill birds. The author stresses that cats kept indoors are less likely to contract deadly diseases and will live an average longer life.

These facts, along with the greedy developers who are rapidly decimating all the habitats where birds have shelter and forage for food, cause me to encourage people to try to keep their feline friends from further decreasing bird numbers. And, after all, birds are not predators, as are cats.
Ms. Beth Pforr, Brentwood, CA

Dear readers:
From time to time I’ll print someone’s “Primal Rant” here for your enlightenment. You can respond to these Rants and add your own comments by clicking on “leave a comment” below. If you’re really riled up about something relating to animals or the environment, send me your Primal Rant about it in an e-mail (put Primal Rant in the subject field) or letter.

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Send your letters to: Gary Bogue, Pet & Wildlife Columnist, Contra Costa Times, P.O. Box 8099, Walnut Creek, CA 94596-8099.

Rants that are submitted may or may not be used. That’s up to me. (At least you’ll feel much better after you write them.) /Gary

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No Responses to “Cats Cause “Silence of the Songbirds””

  1. Maggie Rufo Says:

    Thanks for printing this rant. I couldn’t agree more. I say this as the loving guardian of three happy indoor cats. There is a lot of good information on this issue on the American Bird Conservancy web site: http://www.abcbirds.org. I will never understand how society, in most places, is fine with leashing dogs and not letting them freely roam around to kill and be killed, and no one thinks we should let toddlers roam the streets unsupervised, yet trying to talk to a person about their cat roaming free will get you nothing but abuse and defensiveness in most cases.

    Do we value cats less than dogs? Or, why do we think it’s ok to not let dogs roam the streets, but it’s against nature to keep cats confined? What’s the difference? I think a lot of people have cats because they can just throw down some food and water and let the cat do as it pleases, which makes a lot less work for the people involved. But finding a dead cat in the road is heartbreaking, or having your cat die because it ate a poisoned rat.

    Also, if you complain to a neighbor because their cat is coming on to YOUR property, most people will just refuse to do anything about it, as if they have no control at all over the cat. I love cats, it’s the people who cause the problem. Well, isn’t that the case for all the issues pets and wildlife face? They are completely at our mercy since we humans wield all the power!

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