Cat and bird advocates have been at odds for a very long time. Bird advocates claim that outdoor cats are decimating bird populations. Cat advocates say that these claims are overblown and many refuse to keep cats indoors. While I’m personally a proponent of keeping cats indoors for their own health and safety, I recognize that many people feel strongly about allowing their cats to roam. And being a cat lover doesn’t mean that I don’t love birds. Many people who love animals, love all animals. Steve Crawford is a cat lover, a bird lover and inventor. Steve is trying to find a balance to allow cats and birds to enjoy the outdoors in harmony. Please enjoy Steve’s post and let us know what you think!
Guest blog by Steve Crawford
One spring morning just over a year ago, one of my cats ran by the window with a flapping bird in his jaws. This certainly wasn’t the first time I saw this, and I was often gifted by the cats with bird parts on the doorstep. But that morning, I just couldn’t take it anymore. This had to stop.
I did what any normal person would do: searched diligently on the internet for all possible solutions. The solutions were few, but the controversy I ran across was a worldwide conundrum.
The statistics are sobering. An estimated 50 million cats in the U.S. alone have access to the outdoors. They are responsible for the loss of over a billion birds a year. This doesn’t include feral cats. And neither does this blog entry. The feral cat issue is a massive controversy that is taking place in in small towns all over America and the world. It’s quite an issue with no easy answers.
“I wanted to focus on what I could do about MY cats to protect MY birds.”
I wanted to focus on what I could do about MY cats to protect MY birds. Living on acreage in the High Desert of Oregon, my cats go outside. They walk in the woods with me and the dogs. One of the cats thinks he’s a dog. They all chase each other. The cats hide in ambush and leap out at each other and the dogs. They’re chased up trees and then come back down and rejoin the walk. Not a bad life.
There is a large contingent of cat owners who adamantly oppose any cats outdoors for any reason. They cite the danger of automobiles, predators, and disease, among other reasons. I would probably feel differently if I lived in an urban environment and my cats bothered others or were at danger of getting run over by cars.
Interestingly enough, there was a very popular post on a popular social blog I read the other day that had a picture of a note found by a human on their cat’s collar. The note began with “I don’t know who this cat belongs to but…” and then it continued with information on how often the cat visited. What the cat liked to eat. How the cat rubbed on their legs, and how much they enjoyed the cat visits.
A study at the University of Georgia documented this sort of behavior. The project titled ‘Kitty Cams’ is fascinating. I bring it up to circle back to my cat/bird predation dilemma. To wit: you see less than 25% of what your cat kills or maims, according to the University study.
I applied this statistic to my cats and was more determined than ever to thwart their bird predation. More research led to the fascinating fact that in 1970 it was discovered that birds have a fourth vision cone. We have three: red, green & blue. RGB for all the graphic designers out there. But a bird’s fourth cone sees ultra violet light waves. These light waves, it was further determined, create an expanded palette of colors, many of which we cannot see.