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a blog by and for Utah Birders

Cats and Birds

posted by Jerry Liguori at
on Thursday, March 10, 2011 

I have several pet peeves…no pun intended. One is when people let their cats outdoor. I have 2 cats...they stay inside at all times except when I let them on my front deck, which they can’t escape from, and I watch over them at all times. They love to be outside and letting them on the deck makes them happy…I have a potted smorgasbord of cat grass and catnip for them out there (and indoor), a tree stump for them to shed their claws on, and I keep a pile of leaves for them to roll around in. Its fine to let your cats outside if you watch them and stay with them, but letting them out unattended is irresponsible. What’s the statistic, cats kill how many millions of birds each year? If you are a birder, or someone who cares about birds, please keep your cats inside…please.

Some people think cats can’t be happy unless they are outside, but that is not true. My cats are as happy as cats could be, I couldn’t let them out unattended even if I wanted to, there are rattlesnakes and coyotes in my yard (besides, the cars going by). When people say (about cats going outside or killing birds) "but that's nature...", it pisses me off. Yes, cats have natural instincts, but it’s not “natural” to have DOMESTIC cats killing wild birds. I’m not judging anyone who lets their cats out, I just care about birds.

My neighbors got a cat last year and asked me advice on what type of food to get, what kind of cat litter …etc, etc. One piece of advice I gave them was “keep the cat indoors, she’ll be safer that way, and she won’t kill all the squirrels and birds in the neighborhood”. Needless to say, the cat was stalking my yard every day, killed all the baby squirrels that summer and several birds. I couldn’t get mad at the cat, it wasn’t her fault…and she was adorable and sweet. What’s worse though is that the cat went missing a few months later. I’m guessing a rattlesnake bit her or coyote got her…she often wandered up onto the hillside. Sucks not only for the owner, but for us as well…even though she killed birds, we were pretty attached to her.

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Blogger Tim Avery said...

Ahhhhhh! My favorite bird int eh claws of a kitty! Haha. Off topic from your post, but I have seen a number of Western Tanager window kills over the years. Those and Red-naped Sapsuckers seem to have a propensity for hitting glass when migrating and out of their normal habitat. Weird.

Anyways, back to cats. I will be honest, I am a dog person. Not to say that I don't think cats are interesting creatures, but I am so flipping allergic to them that it's impossible for me to like them. That being said, I share the same pet peeve as you. I hate seeing house cats roaming my neighborhood. I know that my neighbors cats has picked up a few of the window kills at my house, but how many has it killed on its own? Keep your cats indoors unless you are going to watch them. It does them and everyone else a favor.

March 10, 2011 at 9:18 AM  
Anonymous Nancy Howard said...

I hate the cat dirt(as my mother would have called it) in my garden and flower beds. Any advice for that problem?

March 10, 2011 at 10:51 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What to do with cats roaming the neighborhood...

Put out a trap...catch them...take them to a shelter...and if the owner is too oblivious to notice their pet is missing then hopefully, if nothing else, the cat will find a new owner that will be more responsible and caring.

March 10, 2011 at 11:15 AM  
Blogger Anonymous eBirder said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

March 10, 2011 at 11:18 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If a few cats have to get the needle in order to teach responsible cat ownership then so be it. How many cat owners blame wild animals for taking their outdoor cat vs. how many actually go to a shelter to see if their cat was picked up? And now answer that same question with dogs? Dog owners are more responsible and caring of their animals. It's about time we start making cat owners own up to their pet's well being. In the mean time, a few cats will likely have to get the needle in order to start teaching cat owners to be more responsible!!

March 10, 2011 at 11:33 AM  
Blogger Anonymous eBirder said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

March 10, 2011 at 11:44 AM  
Blogger Tim Avery said...

@Anonymous: Everyone is entitled to their opinion, but you're thinking it is okay to let someone elses pet get the needle makes you no better than that of the lazy owner. Like Carl said, why not try and TALK to your neighbor. Let them know your concerns first and if they don't care, or don't want to change let them know that you will be putting out a trap to watch out for your own needs. If they won;t be reasonable, or try to work with you then they will have to deal with the consequences.

I personally don't enjoy seeing my neighbors cat stalk through my yard, but I would never try to have it harmed--and if it were a bigger issue I would do the grown up thing and go talk with them before I took things into my own hand.

You never know how someone might react to finding out their cat was killed because of you--you might end up in the same place as the cat.

As a side note, I know plenty of dog owners who are just as careless as cat owners and that bugs me just as bad if not worse. If you can't take care of or watch over your animal, you shouldn't have one (I have a similar view of children).

March 10, 2011 at 11:50 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My statement may be somewhat absurd, but there is truth to it. How many dogs vs. cats do you see roaming freely in your neighborhood? Good caring cat owners like Jerry are in the minority, or certainly are far less than the number of responsible caring dog owners.

March 10, 2011 at 11:54 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Carl - Did you flip flop? I know you think I'm right.

March 10, 2011 at 12:11 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

@Anonymous - The trapping idea is not terrible but I do not think it should come to the needle.

@Tim - good argument against Anonymous (#1)

March 10, 2011 at 12:24 PM  
Blogger Jessica said...

A few ideas:

Cory and I have cats, and the best thing we ever did for their happiness was to convert our back patio to a screen room. They have cat trees near the bird feeders, and Bird TV keeps them entertained. I'm from the Midwest, and screen porches are common. I'm not sure why more folks don't have 'em here. Modern "Pet Screen" is cat (and dog) claw proof, so ours has looked nice for years now. It also acts as a bird blind--however the visibility isn't 100%.

For the neighborhood cats, we've tried this motion-activated sprinkler:
It works well, but keeping the hose under light-but-constant pressure exposed a leak in our 60-year-old faucets. I can't turn it back on until I replace a faucet.

We've also bought some 1.5 ft. high decorative wire garden fence from Home Depot. I built rings under the feeders to slow down a stalking cat -- the hope is that it will give away its position, giving birds the chance to escape. I'm not sure if this has done any good. As a tripping mechanism for the person filling the feeder, it works well.

What hasn't worked? Offering to pay to have neighbors' cats sterilized. And I'm pretty sure trapping them would start a neighborhood war that might end up in someone's dog/cat being poisoned.

March 10, 2011 at 2:27 PM  
Anonymous Jerry Liguori said...

Wow, thanks for all the comments...that is what this blog is all about

March 10, 2011 at 6:09 PM  
Blogger Just My Take said...

http://www.addictinggames.com/kittencannon.html !!!

March 16, 2011 at 9:17 AM  
Anonymous m is for mike said...

Last year I spent a lot of time around a feedlot in the west desert. There was the gnarliest looking ranch cat out there working the rodent population. It wasn't very big, but you could tell it was a tough customer: lots of scars and scabs, ear torn off, etc. There was also a distinctive dark morph Ferruginous Hawk in the area for the same reason, the plentiful food supply. On more than one occaison I thought the bird was going to make a play on the cat as it moved through the sage. Never happened though - the cat is still out there. Maybe the ferrug didn't see it as prey because of the cat's coloration. Or maybe it was so successful on rodents that it didn't need to take a risk on an unfamliar large animal, although it had undoubtably taken rabbits that size. Would have been an interesting matchup. Not sure who I would have bet on.

March 17, 2011 at 10:12 PM  

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