This is an essay on cats murdering birds. It is written in plain English (I hope). It is published under a creative commons license which allows anyone to use it in anyway they wish.
Dogs have masters; cats have slaves, so the saying goes. There are complicated laws in the UK about the right of dogs to roam. There are no laws on the right of cats to roam. It is what cats do and should be allowed to do.
The cat can’t trespass on your land because the law of trespass does not apply to cats. Under the law they have the right to wander where they will, as they wish. When a cat enters your backyard or garden and hunts prey that is their right. It is a free world. We can’t do that, though. Should cats be under greater control in the modern age? Should cats be allowed to go into people’s gardens to murder birds? These are not public spaces.
Times are changing. The old values are drifting off into the mists of the past. There was a time when, in the UK, cat owners “put the cat out at night”. It still happens. The gardener in the apartment complex where I live puts his cat out at night. This reinforces the idea that cats have a right to roam anywhere and should be outside as much as possible.
Many people love birds as much as cat lovers love cats. It is distressing for them to see a free-roaming cat prey on birds in their back garden. In respect of the law, they can do nothing about it because it is not illegal either from a criminal or civil standpoint. That applies to the UK. Laws vary but I think you’ll find that is most states of the USA, it is the same despite what some raging ornithologists declare to the contrary in hostile tones.
I am sympathetic towards ornithologists but they don’t have the right to disseminate misleading information about cat predation on birds – they exaggerate it. Complainers of cats murdering birds – the word “murder” is uniquely human and strictly speaking does not apply to cats – don’t complain about cats murdering mice; and cats kill far more mice than birds. Is this speciesism – the assignment of a superior value and rights to some species over others. It is, isn’t it?
Why do we value birds over mice? Is it because they are prettier? Humans are consistently engaged in mass speciesism. We think we are better than them (animals). At animal shelters far more cats are killed than dogs. Do we value the unwanted cat below the unwanted dog?
The world is changing rapidly, some say negatively. There are more people and less space. Bird populations are declining in many countries but the reasons are not fully understood except that human activity is involved . Where there is less space, it becomes more valuable and where there are more people, privacy becomes more precious. When there are declining bird populations bird lovers become more sensitive towards the survivability of the bird. The bird acquires more value and so there is greater focus on wandering cats with a right to roam which exceeds ours. These elements come together to prompt the question, “is it time for cats to be under more control”.
The internet has a role to play here. There is far more public discussion. People are more aware of the issues but reluctant to change deeply entrenched ways. There is an historical legacy of allowing cats to roam, to live and let live. If birds are killed by cats; it’s nature’s way.
Unfortunately the highly destructive nature of people has forced us to reevaluate bird conservation. It is the behavior of people in either directly or indirectly killing birds which has heightened the profile of bird conservation. People kill far more birds than cats.
Are we passing the buck? Are we looking for a scapegoat for declining bird populations? It looks like that. The arrogant human is very good at passing the buck and failing to take a hard look at his/her behavior and its consequences. There are some stark stories.
Cats murdering birds? Cats don’t murder birds. Cats prey on birds and it is natural. The bird is almost a last choice of prey for the cat. Mammals are easier to catch. Let’s at least get that right. A lot of the birds preyed on are weak and infirm.
We are, however, heading towards a situation where it will be considered more natural to control our cats when outside. People who like birds and don’t like cats have their rights too. Their viewpoint should be respected. Responsible cat caretakers should be sympathetic towards people who don’t want to see cats stalking birds in their backyard and try and accommodate their wishes otherwise there might come a time when trespass will apply to cats.
Cats murdering birds is about how much control and supervision we exercise over our cats to curb natural predatory drives. There is a spin-off from greater control; the cat is safer from predators who prey on it. In addition the outside world is becoming more hazardous for the cat because of increased human populations and consequential increased human activity which at the end of the day invariably has a negative impact on animals. Reducing cats murdering birds will keep the cat safer.