So let me just say this: I love birds. I love cats. I love people. I like buildings... with windows even. My indoor cats also like windows so they can watch the birds. I mention windows because these insidious inventions kill 900+ million birds a year, according to a 20-year study done by Dr. Daniel Klem of Muhlenberg College. But no one seems to be sounding the alarm about bird fatalities from windows collisions.
SomeÂ bird enthusiasts even advocate shooting and poisoning free-roaming cats to preserve bird populations. They feel Trap, Neuter, and Return (TNR) programs do nothingÂ to control cat populations and don't likeÂ people feeding cat colonies to sustain them. They believe evenÂ well-fed cats kill birds for sport. Some bird enthusiast don't mind manipulating facts and pictures to enhance their point. See this post whereÂ Peter J. Wolf (affectionately christened asÂ a feral cat nerd)Â busts aÂ website for bad photoshop manipulation to promote shooting cats.
More than half the birds fledged yearly do not make it through their first year. This is just a fact of life. Mother nature seems to anticipate this and has made them prolific reproducers. Many die from starvation, drought, and other resource limitations. Because of this, some argue that cats actually help bird populations by culling weaker specimens, and ensuring the healthiest, strongest ones survive to reproduce, much like wolves do for deer and elk populations.
Some bird enthusiasts don't find that an acceptable idea since they believe cats to be an unnatural predator in the wild. But some would argue that a domesticated cat is an oxymoron. The fact that the so-called domestic cat can adapt to living in the wild, and the fact that they can interbreed with their wild counterparts does hint that they are not that far removed from being wild. Plus, domestication implies sociability, and many would attest that even the kindest cat only accepts you on his own terms.
A recent study suggests that cats were domesticated at the same time people began to settle down and become agriculturally based instead of hunter-gatherers, which was about 10,000 years ago. This makes sense with cats learning to tolerate humans to have access to the grain-eating rodents. It makes one wonder, was it the human or the cat who domesticated the other?
Regardless, both birds and cats are prolific reproducers and have admirable survival skills. But it makes sense to be good stewards to populations humanely in a way that honors each species, including humans. After all, we are all connected and are privileged to share this amazing planet.
To immerse yourself in the debate of cat versus bird enthusiasts, visit Vox Felina.
Bird and cat sharing a sandwich photo by Dylan Ashe.