The UK Parliament has thrown away a good opportunity to raise the profile of MPs and cats.
The British Parliament (Palace of Westminster), described as “the mother of all parliaments”, has rejected the idea of adopting one, or perhaps, two rescue cats as mousers to keep down and control the rodent population within the palace, especially in areas where food is prepared on the estate.
The proposal by an MP, Anne McIntosh, was rejected because it was thought that a large number of domestic cats would be required because the area upon which Parliament stands is quite large. It was decided that a large number of cats would be impractical and I agree with that.
The question is, do we agree that a large number of cats, described as a “herd of cats”, is required to keep down the rodent population at the Houses of Parliament in the UK?
My first thought is that the members of Parliament who made this decision almost certainly do not know enough about the domestic cat to make a good judgement in respect of this proposal.
Parliament occupies eight acres or 3.24 hectares. The buildings contain around 1100 rooms and 4.8 kilometres of passageways.
What is the average home range of the domestic cat? A home range is the territory that a cat patrols and which he/she considers her own. It varies in size between individual cats. It could certainly cover 8 acres but most domestic cats in the UK probably remain within a smaller area of several acres at the most.
The important point, though, is the cat(s) would be full-time indoor cats for safety from traffic which is very heavy in that area. Their area of operation within the palace would be mainly the food preparation areas.
As a result I’d estimate a couple of keen mousers selected by the Battersea Dogs & Cats Home would suffice and not a “herd” as stated.
It was a proposal which was certainly worth trying because it would be a natural solution to a health problem and it would help to raise the public profile of the domestic cat.
This was an excellent opportunity to do that which would have reflected well on the Members of Parliament who are seen as not much better than used car salesmen in the UK. They missed an opportunity to raise their profile at the same time.
There is the matter of cost too. Commercial pest control companies will charge the earth to do the work at the Houses of Parliament, I’d guarantee that. Two cats would cost about £25,000 over their entire lifetime.
Pest control measures would have to be renewed frequently under a long-term contract resulting in overall costs being significantly higher over time.
This was an another missed opportunity: for MPs to demonstrate to their constituents that they are economizing in times of financial constraint. That would have been an excellent message.
MPs are unenlightened and they frequently make poor decisions. We are lead poorly. This is yet one more example.