A love hate relationship
Nature appeals to me, attracts my attention, directs my thoughts. There are few living things in this world that can evoke a negative thoughts. I am filled with a sense of wonder in the presence of tiny ants and towering old trees. Despite this, there is one animal that I come close to often that causes me some internal conflict – our neighbours cat Oliver.
Cats although they have been domesticated for many centuries, have retained the ability to hunt (some may argue this is a bad thing). They have strong flexible bodies, sharp teeth and claws and and very good hearing. Despite the fact that we have spoiled them, kept them warm indoors and provided them with some very easy meals, they haven’t lost the natural ability to hunt and catch prey.
I have been a dog person from a very young age. There were always dogs at home, it was an easy choice. I didn’t get close to many cats – due to the dogs! But now, for the first time, there is a cat in my life, when he decides to call by. Anyone who knows me, or follows my posts will know I am a bird lover. Sometimes I also resemble a bird, with my feather-brained behaviour, but that’s beside the point! Anything that tweets, has my interest – even if it is 5am and I need to sleep! When we moved into our new place, it came with a small garden and we decided to try to bring the birds a little closer. We have hung some feeders and a nest box, which to our delight has some residents. I say delight, but it does bring mixed feelings at times, especially when the cat is nearby.
Cats in the UK have been estimated to catch 275 million prey items each year, 20% of the prey caught are birds (The Mammal Society – see paper here). That’s 50 million birds killed by cats in the UK alone every year. This is staggering, but read on. The most common birds caught by cats are house sparrows , blue tits, starlings and black birds but theses species are not declining in number. According to the RSPB (see page here), although cats catch a large number of birds (among other things) there is no scientific evidence to show that they are threatening bird species. This puts my mind at rest, a little.
Nature is wonderful but I worry sometimes. Where do we fit in, how can we help or avoid causing harm? It’s a big question.