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Cats Indoors

One of the most difficult topics I have always tackled head on with my customers is cats. I think HOUSE cats are wonderful pets and their ability to catch mice is legendary, but what is often overlooked by so many is the impact they have on bird populations.

The group I wrote about in the last Conservation Corner started a program a few years ago called Cats Indoors. This is not an anti-cat campaign at all. In fact, it is a pro-cat program designed to educate cat owners of the importance of keeping cats indoors for their own health.

Scientists estimate that cats kill hundreds of millions of songbirds a year. Cardinals, song sparrows, juncos and mourning doves are among the most commonly killed species but the incredibly long list of victims includes rare and endangered birds as well.

As for the health of your pet, consider how many cats are killed by automobiles each year or how many are attacked by dogs, foxes, bobcats or owls or how many are shot or abused by humans. If you throw in the number of parasites, diseases and poisons that outdoor cats face each day, you can see why life in a house is much, much safer.

Don’t be fooled into thinking that your cat is too fat or too old to catch birds. A study on house cat predation done several years ago at Emporia State University, revealed startling results. All cats (over 50) involved in the study were well fed, family-loved house cats. By the end of the study, all cats had killed birds and the number one killer was a, de-clawed male cat.

Much of this information comes from a terrific brochure that the American Bird Conservancy, the American Humane Association and The Humane Society of the U.S. produced. If you have any questions or would like further information about this very important topic, you can visit their web site www.abcbirds.organd follow the links to Cats Indoors or you can stop by the store and pick up a copy of the brochure.

By Mark McKellar