A few days ago, Wildwoods Rehabilitation Center got two nestling robins who were rescued from the jaws of a cat. This cat is normally an indoor cat, but his owners were packing up to move. In the flurry of packing activity, he escaped outside and in short order, had two baby birds in his jaws.
Most animals we get who have been in the mouth of a cat die within 48 hours, despite supportive care and antibiotics. If they make it past the 48 hours, we are usually home free. These two made it.
Then, the next question — would their parents still be around the nest and take them back? They were the only two nestlings that had been in the nest, so the parents didn’t have anyone left to feed and might have abandoned the nest.
We put them back in the nest this morning, and then Ian watched for several hours. Finally the mom came, and then she brought them a fat, juicy worm! It was victory snatched from the jaws of defeat, and we are thrilled — we don’t get many of those.
Are we anti cat (and dog) at Wildwoods? Not at all! We do strongly feel, however, that cats should not be allowed to roam freely outside, both for their own safety and the safety of wildlife. Cats are non-native predators, and pretty effective ones, too! Cats have been shown to be one of the main factors, along with habitat loss and window strikes, that are devastating our populations of native birds.
Why do we still accept these losses at the jaws of cats, shrug our shoulders, and turn away? Yes, it’s in a cat’s nature, true. It’s also in a dog’s nature to chase — deer, sheep, cows, etc. Do we allow this? No. Dogs who chase cows or sheep may end up with a case of lead poisoning, and dogs who chase deer will get their owners a steep fine. Why? Because cows, sheep, and deer have economic value to us.
We have not assigned a value, other than perhaps aesthetic, to our songbirds and other native birds, but they do have value. They are part of a complex web that benefits us, often in ways we do not understand, aside from the sheer joy of having them in our world. We sincerely hope that our society will begin to value wild birds as they deserve.
We also hope that we will increasingly value our cats, and not place them in harm’s way by allowing them to wander outdoors, where they may get lost, or encounter diseases, cars, dogs, humans with ill intent, as well as predators like great horned owls. Cats kept indoors live, on average, three times longer than cats allowed out, according to the Humane Society of the United States.
We are all animal lovers here. Let’s do what’s right for all animals, both domestic and wild, and keep our cats (and dogs) under control, out of harm’s way, and away from wildlife. Thanks!
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