This is a delicate subject, because so many of you have felines as pets, yet we must learn to be responsible pet owners.
Growing up in rural Michigan, felines came and went.
I'm sure that was the case in most places.
One would disappear and another stray would find a home with us.
You didn't get to attached to the family cats.
We are finally getting the picture though.
Our pets are healthy and happier if they stay indoors.
There are more than 90 million pet felines in the United States. A recent nationwide poll showed that only 35% are kept exclusively indoors.
That leaves the majority of owned kitties are free to do what they do best.
Hunt birds and other wildlife.
Not to mention bring home sickness and disease.
Research suggests that felines will kill at least one billion birds a year, not to mention rabbits, chipmunks and other small mammals.
In addition, millions of stray and ferals roam our cities, suburbs, farmlands and natural areas.
Abandoned by their owners or lost (stray), or descendants of strays and living in the wild (feral).
No one knows how many homeless felines there are in the U.S., but estimates range from 60 to 100 million.
These animals lead short, miserable lives.
Indoor animals can live up to 17 years, while the average outdoor cat may live as only four to five years on average.
Exact numbers aren't known, but scientists estimate that nationwide, felines kill hundreds of millions (a billion plus) of birds, and more than a billion small mammals, such as rabbits, squirrels, and chipmunks, each year.
They kill common species of birds such as Cardinals, House Wrens, Robins and Sparrows, as well as rare and endangered species such as Michigan Piping Plover, Florida Scrub-Jay, and California Least Tern.
Cats aren't a Natural part of our Ecosystems
They kill birds and mammals that native animals and birds would prey on.
Can you understand why bird and nature lovers get upset over your kitty that roams?
Domestic felines hunt for the fun of it, not for food. If it moves, it becomes sort of a game.
Your furry friend has all the food he wants, yet he/she is waiting for something to move and pounce.
Possibly leave a gift for you at the door step.
The flit of a bird or a chipmunk scurrying and Kitty is there to pounce.
Again, they don't always eat the kill, it may leave a gift for you at your door step.
For domestic felines, it is often the thrill of the hunt (an urge they can't control).
Years ago (before we knew better), we had an outdoor cat with three bells on the collar yet he learned to walk without ringing one of them.
Observe your pet walking. You will notice that the back foot is always placed where the front paw was.
Stealth at its best no snapping twigs or rustling leaves when you can move without a sound.
Where we need to be educated is the health of your kitty.
Not only are felines hunted, poisoned, run over and drown, but some very cruel people are out there that do unspeakable things.
They may bring home sickness, worms, ticks and fleas.
Sometimes they pass them onto us.
That adds up to more vet bills and time for you at the doctors office.
Responsible owners must become educated and keep Fluffy inside.
To deter domestic or feral felines from attacking your birds, you can add a few things to your gardens.
Plant a few native Hawthorne. Thorns can reach 2" offering great protection and small fruits in the fall offer food.
If I had to plant one non native shrub, it would be Pyracantha (common name of Firethorn). A semi-evergreen bush that offer a nice thorny protection and orange berries in the fall and winter.
As long as your feeders and birdbath are in the open (at least 10 feet from trees and shrubs), they can't sneak up on your feathered friends.
Put up some fence around your birdbath and feeding stations if needed. Something as basic as chicken wire will do as long as there is a gap between the bath or feeders and the fence.
Still, Fluffy will hide in your shrubs and trees waiting and waiting.
You can always get a dog.
It is unfair for Fluffy, they are doing what comes natural and because of the numbers, only humans kill more birds than Fluffy and his kin.
More information on birds and felines can be found at:
American Bird Conservancy