CATS, BIRDS, AND YOU
Like the last piece of a puzzle, a pet fills the empty space in many lives. Researchers continue to show benefits to human health when you have a pet. The choice of pet is different for different folks but many persons especially love cats. All pets are very dependent on their owners for a healthy and happy life. Cats are no exception.
Your pet cat is happiest, healthiest, and safest when kept inside. Cats are safer – from cars, from being lost or abducted, from cruel treatment, and from injuries when encountering other cats, dogs, coyotes or foxes. Cats that are allowed to roam outside are much more prone to be exposed to fatal diseases, including rabies, feline leukemia, and distemper. And they can bring tiny hitchhikers into your home from outdoors.
Cats kept inside also make it safer for birds, reports the American Bird Conservancy (ABC). “Birds are not only beautiful and interesting creatures eagerly welcomed by millions of Americans into their backyard every year; they are also an important natural resource. They pollinate our crops, control pests, and warn us of impending environmental danger.
“Scientists estimate that cats kill hundreds of millions of birds each year and three times as many small mammals. While many birds killed by cats are relatively common, even common birds are now in decline…Regardless of whether a species is rare or not, each wild animal suffers when captured by a cat. Cat saliva is heavily laden with bacteria, so even if a bird escapes, it will likely die a slow and painful death from infection or injuries.
“While cats may instinctively hunt wildlife, it is clear that they are not adapted to life in the wild. Feral cat populations (cats living in the wild) are most commonly found around human settlements because they cannot survive without the support of…humans.”
“The domestic cat was introduced to North America by Europeans only a few hundred years ago. Their dramatic rise in population in such a short period of time has been devastating to native wildlife. America’s native wildlife is under ever-increasing pressure from shrinking habitats and other man-made threats. The added hazard posed by domestic cats could be the final straw for some species.”
As a responsible cat owner find ways to keep their cat healthy, safe, and happy indoors. All of us can support the local animal shelter, advocate for local control and protection plans, resist feeding a roaming cat, and assist in finding it permanent indoor home. Take cats for which you cannot care to an animal shelter. Especially now, as migrating flocks of birds pay brief visits, caring for birds means keeping cats indoors.
Information was taken from a brochure distributed by Northwest Illinois Audubon Society, Freeport and published by American Bird Conservancy, wwwabcbirds.org/cats.
Della Moen, Earth Team Volunteer, NRCS/Stephenson Soil and Water Conservation District, an equal opportunity provider and employer, 10/02/2 (for publication on 10/06/12 in the Journal-Standard, Freeport, Illinois). Della can be reached at email@example.com