On cats and birds

Rick Edwards

[A brief note in support and appreciation for the excellent June 6 article Birds and their Role in the Web of Lifeby Theresa Peluso.]

Another dead dove in our backyard. In our usually sensitive community of Almonte, I find it surprising that some residents allow their cats to roam the neighborhood at will. (There is an occasional feral cat, but I have scared a few cats and followed them to their respective homes.)

Millstone photo

Now please don’t think I have anything against cats – I’ve made a home for probably twenty-three cats (by my daughter’s count) and I am one of those people who actually laughs and enjoys online photos or videos of cats doing crazy things or just being adorable.

But killing birds is instinctive for cats and they will do so even when they are not hungry (yesterday’s dove was not eaten, but sometimes they are, partially). I regularly see feathers or bird parts in a pile around my bird feeder and four different cats have made our yard their hunting destination of choice – even though they are not welcome on our property.

Maybe people are unaware that songbirds are already declining in huge numbers due to human activities such as climate change, pollution, and crashes into glass skyscrapers during their annual migrations, with estimates ranging up to one billion birds per year. And while architects and municipalities may be able to offer development guidelines for the future, most of us are helpless to change the status quo regarding the skyscraper-built environment.

We can, however, impact our lovely town in a positive way by being more bird friendly. Birds promote pleasant and happy sounds and who can disagree that our blue jays, goldfinches, cardinals and robins add beauty and colour throughout a neighborhood?

I appeal to all cat owners to keep your pet indoors or contained in an environment where they cannot continue the senseless and destructive decline of our songbird population.

Our by-laws for the municipality support this, in effect:

No animals are permitted to run at large within the limits of Mississippi Mills. An animal is NOT considered running at large if it is on the owner’s property, constrained by a leash, under direct control of the owner or caretaker, indoors, contained within a cage or fenced in on the owner’s property.