Did you know that there are over 7.7 million cats in the US? I have heard that more people have cats and dogs than they have children.
I have two cats myself, named Sicily and Sydney. Though we more often refer to Sydney as Stupid because, frankly, Mother Nature must have been distracted when handing out brains. He has only managed to live this long due to the fact that we live on a quiet suburban street. My husband says that Sydney has the survival instincts of a lemming.
There has been more than a few occasions where I have had to go remove him from the path of oncoming cars while apologizing profusely to the driver who has been patiently honking their horn at him. He seems to think that the middle of the street make a good cat bed and feels that he is above moving for mere 2 ton steel creatures. His attempts at making the feline version of the Darwin Awards do not end there.*sigh*
But they are my cats and I love them both. I am a responsible cat owner. I had them spayed and neutered. I feed them decent quality cat food. I get their shots done regularly. I clean their litter box, or at least have produced children who I can direct to clean the litter box. All around, I am a good cat owner.
I am also a responsible cat gardener. Both my cats have not one, but two metal id tags. The reason for this can be heard whenever my cats prance through the house, accompanied by an almost musical and certainly audible jingle-jangle.
The reason I do this to my little kitties is not for their safety, but rather the safety of the birds in my garden.
I am not a birdwatcher, but I do enjoy birds. I also realize that they are important to a healthy garden ecosystem. More importantly, I am a huge fan of natural balance and the fact is that the cat population, much like the deer population, is terribly out of balance.
Despite the best efforts of urban legends about the uses of cats in Chinese restaurants, cat has not caught on as a sought after foodstuff. Cats not only have no natural predators, they are kept strong and healthy by doting owners. This is not good for the native bird population.
Domesticated cats are also an introduced species. They are not native to the US. They are not the natural predators of American songbirds, no matter how long domesticated cats have lived here. Also, because cats are such a popular household pet, their numbers have increased rather dramatically over the past few decades. As a result, the cat population is doing some serious damage to the bird population.
Because of this, I do believe that I have an obligation to make it as difficult as possible for my cats to enjoy a tasty meal of fresh robin or cardinal. Yes, it is their natural instinct, but they are not natural to North America and they exist in an unnatural environment where they have a serious advantage over native species.
I am beginning to think that it is perhaps it is a feeling of deep seated guilt that drives Sydney to do the stupid things he does. Perhaps his supposed stupidity is actually an effort on his part to discover a native predator for the domesticated cat. Of course he still doesn’t get to drop the nickname since he hasn’t figured out that cars don’t really count as a predator.