Our housesitter called when we were away to say that we hadn’t told her about our unexpected friend. At dusk she had walked out onto the back patio and discovered a 5-foot gopher snake slithering along the house. Knowing our respect for critters, she successfully whisked it away with a broom. We hope it stays around. After all, gopher snakes eat lots of rats and other rodents, which also seem to like our yard. [Read more...]
What a joy this spring to walk around our yard here in Southern California – a former lawn now full of native and other wildlife-attracting plants. The native bees have arrived in higher numbers, challenging the busy honeybees on our blooming ceanothus and lavender. Our resident Anna’s hummingbird seemed to survive the cold spell this winter and is perching on his usual tree branch [Read more...]
First a full disclosure: I have had both an indoor cat, and an outdoor cat who used to bring me ‘goodies’.
Yesterday I came across a half-eaten bird kill caused by a cat I’ve seen stalking our bird-friendly property. It made me think of some research The Secret Life of Roaming Cats I heard on NPR in August. Working with the National Geographic Society, University of Georgia researchers strapped small video cameras on 55 cats as they roamed [Read more...]
This morning my husband came inside after throwing seed on the ground for the wild birds and said it was a good thing I didn’t go down first…. A baby rabbit that we had been watching as it grew up in the cover of our slope was dead on the ground, uneaten, its head severed (sorry for the graphic description – but that’s what cats do.) It would be one thing if cats ate what the kill, but often they do not. [Read more...]
Full Disclosure: I have had both an indoor cat and an outdoor cat!
While vacationing in British Columbia this fall, I read a good letter to the editor about cat owners who let their cats run free, thinking it’s good for the cat. A statistic jumped out at me, which I checked out.
More than 20 percent — so 1 of every 5 songbird death – is due to cats running free. American Wildlife Foundation scientists have been studying the drop in songbird population. Habitat destruction is a big reason but obviously cats are another. You read about the statistic of millions of bird deaths yearly due to cats (a 2010 U of Nebraska report estimated 480 million birds in the U.S. annually!) but I think the above factoid is easier to understand. There’s also the baby ducks, squirrels and rabbits they catch.
Reasons why to keep your cat indoors:
- Injury and getting nabbed by a predator (coyotes as well as cars).
- Friendly inside cats revert to its hereditary, predatory nature once they go out the door. And while that may seem ‘natural’ remember that, cats are not part of the natural predatory cycle. In more wild areas, bobcats nab an occasional bird but nothing like the damage cats do.
- To repeat, more than 20 percent — so 1 of every 5 songbird death – is due to cats running free
If you’re a cat owner, look at the resources below & consider the following:
- Cats not introduced to the outdoors don’t miss it. Keep them indoors from the start.
- Also, cats do fine on leashes, especially if started young. People who have leash-trained their cats, including my husband, report they go happily for walks just like a dog.
- If you really can’t make the decision to keep your current feline in, make a vow that any future cats you have will be indoor-only cats.
- More and more cities have laws where cats running free that can be traced to owners result in a fine. Do it on your own and regulation won’t be necessary.
- “Keep Your Cat Happy Indoors” (Humane Society)
- How to Make Your Outdoor Cat an Indoor Cat (San Diego Natural History Museum)
- “Get the Facts about Cat Law” (American Bird Conservancy) - PDF
- Cats Indoors! Educator’s Guide K-6 (American Bird Conservancy) - PDF
- University of Nebraska Report (480 million birds killed anually) -PDF