Resident church cat’s death resulted in a plague of pigeons

Tom, a church cat, kep pesty pigeons at bay in the 1920s
Tom, a church cat, kept pesty pigeons at bay in the 1920s
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There was a time, when Tom, the church cat at St Mary Redcliffe, Bristol, UK, kept away pesty pigeons. Tom live for 15 years from 1912 to 1927. He is buried in the church grounds. Since his death the church has struggled with a persistent pigeon problem. Worshippers are complaining that they have to duck low flying birds and avoid slipping on pigeon excrement. The administrators have resorted to a full spectrum of deterrence including spikes and gels, using a hawk to frighten the pigeons and employing a marksman to shoot them but all to no avail.

The church dates from the 12th century and was until recently the tallest building in Bristol. Queen Elizabeth I described it as “the fairest, goodliest and most famous parish church in England”. It looks like a cathedral.

The latest attempt to keep pigeons away is to install an electric shock device which ensures that the surfaces deliver a small but disconcerting electric shock to the birds which would persuade them not to return. Wires will be embedded in a rubber strip that is fitted to the surfaces where pigeons perch.

Permission was given by the consistory court of the diocese of Bristol to install the electric shock wires. The consistory court is a Church of England body which adjudicates issues in local parishes.

Comment: this is another example of the usefulness of working cats. I’m surprised that there are not more church cats. You might know that the earliest known cat door or cat flap is in a church door. Specifically, it is a hole in the door below the astronomical clock of Exeter Cathedral, Exeter, UK. It dates back to the early 1600s.


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