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Museum display of stuffed tabby cat next to line of 34 stuffed birds is objectionable

I believe that this display is in a Dutch museum: the Natural History Museum Rotterdam. It is unpleasant. It also over-simplifies the issues of domestic cat predation and as a result misleads. All-in-all not a clever display.

Picture of stuffed cat and stuffed, dead bird prey

The creators of this display probably had the intention of summarising the predation of birds by domestic cats. It is meant to tell a story. There are 34 birds in the glass cabinet. This represents each individual cat killing 34 birds per year. So, it is an anti-cat display. There is also a fish in a jar of formaldeyde (a pickled fish) as far as I can tell.

As I have said countless times before the number of birds killed by domestic and feral cats annually is an estimate. Often made by ornithologists or cat haters. We don’t know the true figure because we don’t know how many feral cats there are. All the figures are estimates. Therefore don’t present the numbers as fact which is what this horrible display intends to do.

Secondly, humans either directly (e.g. buildings) or indirectly (e.g. climate change, shooting and habitat loss) kill far more birds per year than cats. Why not stuff a man and put him in a glass cabinet with a thousand dead birds? That would be more accurate.

Thirdly, it is indecent to stuff a tabby cat and present it in a display for pubic consumption. For all I know the cat might have been someone’s pet. I bet the museum does not address that possibility. And the birds are stuffed too. Where did they come from?

I see why they did it but it is a bad idea. The museum gets 44,000 visits per year. Not a great number. I can’t recommend the place.

A man, Jack Ashby tweeted the picture saying it was a great way of displaying the impact of domestic cats on nature but he does not realise that the numbers are not necessarily accurate and are probably inaccurate and he is ignoring human behaviour which includes the fact that humans domesticated the cat in the first place. Humans created the feral cat. However you look at it the root cause of bird predation by domestic and feral cats is human behaviour. Message to the Natural History Museum Rotterdam: tell the story of human behaviour, please, as it is far more important.

This is a photo of an extention to the museum:

Natural History Museum Rotterdam


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Michael Broad

Hi, I am 70-years-of-age at 2019. For 14 years before I retired at 57, I worked as a solicitor in general law specialising in family law. Before that I worked in a number of different jobs including professional photography. I have a longstanding girlfriend, Michelle. We like to walk in Richmond Park which is near my home because I love nature and the landscape (as well as cats and all animals).

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  • Having observed 2 dozen cats (my own) closely, daily for as many years, none of them were this prolific. Indeed the few who did chase/catch/kill anything, those numbered less than a handful over all those years. Again, almost all of them never even chased anything. So yes, the bulk of the story, the truth isn't being told. People are still being lied to and misled.

  • This argument that cats destroy birdlife become an urban myth, similar to vaccination cause autism.

    Every day I drive on the Highway around 6 miles between two towns. I see in average 20 birds every day dead on the street - killed by cars.

    As well in the last 3 years, a substantial number of trees was cut in my subdivision and all the neighbours' subdivision. By the owner and when I am asking, they say because the trees block the sun. Trees are the living environment for birds and later the people are wondering, that they did not hear so many birds anymore - and blame the neighbours cats.

    The argument for example in New Zealand for example, that Cats are not native. What is true. But Mice and Rats are neither, they come only 100 years before the cats to the Islands. What would happen to the eggs in birds nests when mice and rats would reproduce without any enemy (here are no Snaks, etc)?

    Cats will more likely hunt mice, rats, sick and old birds. Mice and Rats eat eggs and that has a larger impact on the bird population.

    TNR Programs are still the best choice to maintain the cat population and keep the advantages regarding mice & rats control maintained by such cat colonies.

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