Skip to comments.Must Cats Die So Birds Can Live? (Inside an Animal-Lover Civil War)
Posted on 06/10/2013 12:30:41 PM PDT by nickcarraway
All winter, Peter Marras children had been pestering him to get a cat. It was ironic, he thought as he walked up the snowy path to his modern farmhouse in Takoma Park, Maryland, just outside Washington, D.C. Especially now, when the countrys cat lobby had him pegged as the Josef Mengele of felines. In his years as a research scientist at the Smithsonian Zoos Migratory Bird Center, Marra had produced many studies on different threats to bird life, like glass buildings and wind turbines, but none received as much attention as those featuring cats. Since its publication in the January issue of the journal Nature Communications, his teams paper, The Impact of Free-Ranging Domestic Cats on Wildlife of the United States, which placed the number of birds felled by felines at 1.4 billion to 3.7 billion per year, had been picked up by most major media outlets, including the New York Times. Marra was proud, although when he saw the front-page headline, That Cuddly Kitty Is Deadlier Than You Think, accompanied by a photo of a tabby with its jaws clenched around the neck of a rabbit, he braced himself for an onslaught.
Sure enough, the reaction from Alley Cat Allies, the countrys most powerful cat group, was swift and furious. This study is part of a continuing propaganda campaign to vilify cats, railed the groups president, Becky Robinson, in a press release that, to the Smithsonians intense displeasure, made use of an incident in which one of Marras researchers was accused of cat poisoning to bolster a long-running claim that his groups work was a veiled promotion by bird advocates to ramp up the mass killing of outdoor cats.
Within hours, comments on the Times website numbered in the thousands. There were the unabashedly ignorant: Im sorry. I must have missed the news flash that were having a shortage of birds. The crazies: My best friend is a CAT. How dare you suggest that CATS are killers. The conspiracy theorists: This stinks of anti-cat sentiment. And the truthers: If this is so, where are the close to 15 billion eviscerated carcasses?
All day, hate mail had been pouring in, and as Marra opened the door, he glanced cautiously over his shoulder. You cat-murdering bastard, a late-night caller told the author of a similar study. Weve got you in our sights.
Inside, his children were watching television. Daddy, look at the cute kitty, his daughter said, twisting toward him as a kitten appeared onscreen, playfully batting at something with its paws. Ah, yes, Americas favorite pet.
People love cats. Always have. The remains of Felis catus, small carnivorous mammals descended from Near Eastern wildcats, have been found in 10,000-year-old Cypriot graves and mummified by the Egyptians, who worshipped them. Theyve been the subject of poetry by fourteenth-century Thai monks, Victorian etchings, and many an Internet meme. At first, people kept cats around for their hunting skillsthe ancient Greeks used them to police grain silos for vermin the same way New York City bodegas use them to keep mice away from the cornflakes. But mostly, it was because theyre cute. Cats have those aw-inspiring pedomorphic qualitiesbig eyes, round foreheads, snubby nosesthat trigger a nurturing instinct in humans, and they can convey an almost human intelligence, as anyone who has ever found themselves in a staring contest with one can attest. Still, for every person who sees mute understanding in a cats eyes, another finds them creepy. Cats are strangely polarizing beasts, as capable of inspiring hatred as love. Those who dislike them see them as sneaky, moody, manipulative, even off-puttingly feminine. But to the majority, cats are beloved. Currently, nearly 90 million occupy roughly one third of American homes, and while modern cat owners might not use the word worship regarding their pets, there are signs that we are again living in an age of cat deification, the most obvious being that we allow them to poop in boxes inside of our homes.
While people are clearly committed to their cats, its not always clear that cats feel the same way. While they may be coerced into wearing a baby bonnet or playing the piano, they generally defy directionhence the expression herding cats. They tend to give the impression of having their own lives, and because cats, unlike dogs, arent required to be licensed or leashed, many owners indulge them, allowing them to come and go as they please.
Perhaps because the sight of a cat slinking around on its own is so common, a surprising number of cat owners feel free to abandon them when they become a burden. At the end of each semester, college towns regularly see an uptick in the number of cats on the streets, and economically depressed areas are literally crawling with them. After the housing market dropped, we found a lot of abandoned cats, says Ken Ross of the SPCA in Putnam County, which is currently struggling with a large population of feral cats. Ferals are the homeless of the feline population, the down-and-out counterparts to the purebreds peering out from behind lace curtains. Wild and unsocialized, they survive by their wits and the kindness of strangers.
Illustration by Bigshot Toyworks No one knows exactly how many ferals there are in the United States, but the ASPCA places the population at 70 millionand counting. Cats are extremely fecund: Left to their own devices, two can become 62 in three years. When you have an area with a large population of these cats, they become a nuisance, says Ross, who fields a lot of calls complaining about cats caterwauling, digging through garbage, defecating in gardens and sandboxes and spraying urine. The more informed of them express concerns about diseases such as rabies and toxoplasmosis, which results in neurological problems, including a mental illness associated with cat-hoarding, caused by a parasite in cat feces. What the callers want, Ross says, is for someone to get rid of them, but given the lax laws, he cant be sure if the animals in question are strays or someones pet. Trapping them is too difficult and time-consuming for cash-poor Animal Control departments, and since cats, unlike dogs, dont present an overt threat to humans, theyre generally allowed to remain on the street, where they continue to multiply.
The population has tripled over the past 40 years. Tripled, says George Fenwick. Wild of eye and George Lucas of hair, Fenwick runs the American Bird Conservancy, an organization he founded back in the early nineties after watching his neighbors cat decimate his backyard bird population. While birds are the groups primary focus, cats are a close second. An early campaign, Cats Indoors!, encouraged cat owners to keep their pets inside, and the animals remain a bête noire. The killer instinct that makes them valuable in controlled circumstances, the Conservancy argues, is a liability on the streets, where increasing numbers of ferals are wiping out other species. For every cat on the street, 200 birds are killed annually, says Fenwick, a font of such information. Sitting in the ABC office above a Chinese restaurant in Washington, he rattles off types at risk: ground-nesters like California least terns, cardinals, house wrens, endangered species like piping plovers. The important thing to remember is that even when they are fed, they still kill, he adds. They kill for fun. Fenwick likens cats, who were introduced to the environment by humans, to invasive species like kudzu in the Northeast or pythons in Florida. Its an immense ecological problem, he says.
Its a problem without an easy solution, especially when more and more animal shelters are embracing the no kill philosophy, in which strays are rehabilitated and put up for adoption. Socializing a cat thats been living on the streets takes a tremendous amount of commitment, and many are beyond itas Ludacris says, you cant turn a ho into a housewifeand there are too many of them for the shelters to take in and let linger. Euthanasia was never that effective, so as long as people abandon cats and let them run around unsterilized, the population will keep refreshing itself.
For the past several years, animal activists have been trying something new. Around the time Fenwick was setting up ABC, a former social worker named Becky Robinson was parking her car in Northwest D.C. when she came upon a clowder of strays in an alley. There were at least 54, says Robinson, who is tall and lanky with a ruffled pixie haircut. I could tell they were related because they were all black with a white stripe here, she says, running her fingers down the front of her shirt. We were sitting in the Maryland offices of Alley Cat Allies, the group she founded after that night to advocate on behalf of what she calls the forgotten ones, largely through promoting a practice called Trap, Neuter, Return.
As its name suggests, Trap, Neuter, ReturnTNR for shortconsists of capturing stray cats, having them sterilized, and returning them to the colony whence they came. There, they are overseen by volunteers who provide food, water, and handmade shelters. The hypothesis is that once the procreation cycle is curbed, the colony will die out naturally. In the meantime, the feeding and spaying stops the nuisance behavior that irritated the neighbors, who are encouraged to think of them as community cats. This is about coexisting, says Robinson. This is about compassion. This is about humanity, how we exist, how we interact. This is about respect for life.
Robinson speaks with a soft Kansas accent and the conviction of a preacher, and over the past two decades, Alley Cat Allies has persuaded the ASPCA, the Humane Society, and sundry nonprofit organizations to officially endorse TNR. Additionally, at least 300 municipalities have passed some kind of law that embraces it, she says. Including New York City, which in 2011 passed Local Law 59, sanctioning TNR as a method of feline population control. These days, the yowling stray that was once an iconic part of the cityscape has gone the way of Times Squares Live Nude Girls. Now feral cats inhabit dwellings that mirror our own, from salvaged-wood spaces in Williamsburg to uptown shelters designed by famous architects.
Illustration by Bigshot Toyworks The latter are the result of a contest held by the Feral Cat Initiative, a program of the Mayors Alliance for NYC Animals, which promotes TNR mainly by creating awareness. The real work, says Jane Hoffman, a former consultant who founded the Mayors Alliance in 2003 to curb the number of animals killed in shelters, is done by individuals, out of their own pockets. You can see how this sounded like a good deal to the Bloomberg administration.
My husband thinks Im having an affair, Debi Romano, a fortysomething in a zebra-striped top, jokes to the group crowded into the Queens Library. Every night, Romano spends at least four hours driving around the outer boroughs, providing food and water to the 40 colonies of cats she manages. Romano runs a foundation called Save Kitty, and this Sunday morning, she and a partner are teaching a group of concerned citizens the basics of TNR: How to use a humane trap and how to calm the cat when it realizes its in a trap (throw a blanket over it); where they can take it to be spayed or neutered (the ASPCA, the Humane Society) and given an ear-tip (an Evander Holyfieldstyle slash across the ear indicating it belongs to a colony); and where to put it while it recovers (a garage, a bathtub). Afterward, the room buzzes with feel-good energy.
TNR is instinctively appealing: It seems logical, humane. Unlike previous methods of animal controllike rounding up strays and drowning them in the East Riverit feels like a solution for the kind of people we believe ourselves to be now. A compassionate people, as Robinson puts it. A nation of animal lovers.
Of course, thats only one way to look at it. That is, if youll pardon my French, complete bullshit, says Ed Clark, Virginia accent booming across the Upper East Side bistro hes stopped at on the way to Greenwich, where hes giving a talk to donors to the Wildlife Center of Virginia, the animal hospital at which he sees, on average, 250 cat-inflicted injuries a year. Have you ever seen a cat kill a bird? he asks. They slice em right down the middle. He traces a line up his stomach. Whoosh.
Clark, the voluble onetime host of Animal Planets Wildlife Emergency, is part of a group of conservationists who have watched the popularity of TNR escalate with horror. To him and his cohort, its supporters have made a terrible Sophies choice: By enabling feral cats to live outside, theyre condemning other creatures to horrific deaths. Theyre wearin blinders and whistlin in the dark, he says. Theyre absolving themselves of culpability because they dont have to see it. They just let it happen outside.
Early on, Clark thought groups like Alley Cat Allies might be convinced that TNR wasnt the answer if they were aware of the number of birds felled by felines. After all, they were animal lovers. So he invited National Geographic into the hospitals morgue to shoot a years worth of avian corpses for a documentary, The Secret Life of Cats. But the sight of the hundreds of tiny bodies, laid out like victims in Pol Pots killing fields, did not have the chilling effect he hoped. Subsequent documentation of cat-on-bird violence, like National Geographics Kitty Cams project, in which tiny cameras attached to their collars caught pet cats in the act of murder, also failed to have an impact.
Clark understands the power of the cat. He owns several himself, and gets why birds dont generate the same passion. People dont have relationships with birds like they do with cats, he says. The human condition is such that we appreciate animals that appreciate us. But the cat lobbys palpable lack of appreciation for their peers in the animal community rankled, and Clark has become embittered. They say they love all animals. Well, no, ya dont, he glowers, taking a swig of Scotch. With them, cats come first. Everything else comes second. Including people.
Over the years, Clark, along with members of Fenwicks American Bird Conservancy, the Wildlife Society, and the Audubon Society, among others, have waged a steady counter-campaign against TNR. Compared with what one conservationist calls the powerful cat lobby, this group is smaller and mostly male. Were like the underdog, says author Jonathan Franzen, who serves on the American Bird Conservancy board. But theyve become a thorn in the side of cat groups, who resent their undermining and rightly suspect them of trying to reinstitute a practice they believe is unacceptable: aggressive euthanasia.
The bird communitys position is, we need to get rid of the feral cats, and that means cats must die, Franzen says. We feel bad about that, but we can morally justify that position, with all of the birds that they are indirectly killing.
Illustration by Bigshot Toyworks This proposal has received support from an unlikely ally, PETA, whose president, Ingrid Newkirk, argues TNR is more about making people feel good than cats. Its not a kindness, its a fantasy, she says. Homeless cats, they dont die of old age. They get hit by a car, they drink antifreeze, somebody slings a brick or a rock at them. Why not, when you knock them down, just have them never wake up again? Its a horrible decision, but its a nicer decision.
Thats ridiculous, scoffs Jane Hoffman. I could get hit by a bus tomorrow. Should I be killed?
Since the animals in question cant weigh in, the debate over which side deserves to live or die is left to their human representatives, whose antipathy for each other seems almost primal in its intensity.
Cat advocates say there are greater threats to wildlife than cats, like habitat loss, and that conservationists are only targeting them because of a deep hatred of cats. Its like speciesism, racism, whatever other -ism, says Becky Robinson.
Conservationists say cat advocates are bullies who prey on peoples emotional attachment to cats in order to promote a practice that is detrimental to the environment and public health. They point to studies like California professor Travis Longcores Critical Assessment of Claims Regarding Management of Feral Cats by TrapNeuterReturn as evidence that TNR doesnt really work, and brandish reports about dolphins in Florida and otters in California infected by toxoplasmosis as proof of harm resulting from their irresponsible insistence on it. This is not about bad animal behavior, Fenwick says. This is about bad human behavior.
Cat advocates say the conservationists have wildly exaggerated the numbers in hopes of fulfilling a hate-filled agenda. The bird people says Hoffman, who pauses to utter a disclaimer made by everyone herein, that these labels are unfortunate, that she loves birds as well as cats, but when it comes to this issue, one is either a bird person or a cat person, like one is Sunni or Shiite, a Blood or a Cripthe bird people have distorted any research that has ever been done on the impact of feral cats. They point to instances where they say TNR has worked, like on the campus of the University of Central Florida.
Thats not a study, sneers Ed Clark. Thats a letter home from summer camp.
But the cat people hold the trump card, and the conservationists know it. The likelihood of anyone other than Fenwick signing the order condemning masses of Americas favorite pet to death is slim. You have to think about what we want as Americans, says Robinson. Sure, she feels bad that cats kill birds, she says, but its their nature.
But its not nature, Fenwick explodes. Cats are not native species.
Robinson takes equal umbrage at this argument, which to her sounds frankly un-American. What does that even mean, native species? she demands. Like the white man? Are we native? she asks, gesturing at the space between us. If we got rid of all the native species, all that would be left is Indians. And we did a good job of annihilating them.
Immersed in their mind-bendingly toxic argument, the two groups fail to see the ways they could help each other. Its unfortunate, says Bob Sallinger of the Audubon Society of Portland, Oregon, which so far is the only organization to reach across the aisle. The American Bird Conservancy and Alley Cat Allies have dominated the issue, and they are mirror images of each other. The Portland Audubon Societys arrangement with the local feral-cat group, with whom they partner on PSAs about spaying and neutering and keeping cats indoors, has seen Sallinger shunned by his own people. Ted Williams in Audubon magazine said we were intimidated, he says, laughing incredulously. Intimidated! We were one of the first litigants that triggered the spotted-owl wars! Were not afraid of a fight.
According to Fenwick, this is more than a fight. This, he says, sitting underneath a headdress spiked with replicas of feathers from the Bolivian blue-throated macaw, is a war.
And the way people at war behave makes the animal kingdom look like The Lion King. Last summer, Ken Ross was called to a crime scene in Putnam County. A dead cat had been placed at an intersection, its head severed from its body. Weeks later, another was shot in the back. Looking down at its limp body, he asked himself a question. Do we have a serial killer out there torturing cats, or do we have a situation where the cats are such a problem that people are taking things into their own hands?
In Jonathan Franzens Freedom, one of the main characters, a birder, becomes so enraged watching his neighbors cat kill birds he kidnaps the animal and drives it to a shelter to be euthanized. The characters indignation was so over-the-top that when the book came out, people assumed it was satire. In fact, an embarrassed Franzen admits, it was a purely realistic portrayal of the rage that wells up in the hearts of bird lovers when they find themselves pinned down, like the creatures they defend, by the stronger and more beloved species.
This was the sentiment that rippled throughout the bird community this spring, when bird people became aware of a bill Alley Cat Allies was trying to get passed in Florida that would protect TNR volunteers from charges of cat abandonmentan action that lent credence to bird peoples suspicion that the cat groups were more interested in what Fenwick terms open-air cat hoarding than an overall culling of ferals. In a fevered editorial in the Orlando Sentinel, Ted Williams suggested that Tylenol, which is poisonous to cats, be deployed on the local population. Much to the chagrin of cat people, the bill not only failed to pass, but Williams was only briefly suspended.
If any bird lover took him up on his suggestion, it wouldnt have been the first time one was moved to violence. When I find these little feathers, Ive had it, a 76-year-old Wisconsin woman told police after being convicted of poisoning a neighbors cat in 2005. I love animals, but he drove me to it.
In 2007, a jury deadlocked over the case of Jim Stevenson, the director of a Texas ornithological society, after he shot a cat menacing some rare plovers. What I did, he told the Times, was right.
The most high-profile cat-killing case in recent memory is that of Nico Dauphine, a 39-year-old research fellow at the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute. Dauphine was already known in both the bird and cat communities when she arrived in D.C. in 2011, after a video presentation shed done, Apocalypse Meow!, had circulated widely on the Internet. Now a newly minted Ph.D. from the University of Georgia, she had come to the city to work with Peter Marra on a study about the effects of cat predation on birds.
After Dauphine noticed that her new apartment in Northwest D.C. had a feral-cat problem, she sent a polite e-mail to building management expressing concerns about the skinny cats that gathered to nibble at piles of kibble left under the shrubs, and describing the older woman shed seen feeding them while checking her mail. Please do keep my name in confidence, she added, as I know from experience how emotional people can get from these types of situations.
Not long after, Dauphine was arrested. The neighbor had found a whitish-yellowish substance on the food and called the Humane Society, which had it tested and found traces of rat poison. An investigation uncovered security-camera footage of Dauphine approaching the area. It looked like she was taking something out of her bag.
A cat-poisoning case would have generated outrage under any circumstances, but Dauphines position in the pro-bird firmament made it a full-blown scandal. To cat people, the incident was proof of what theyd been saying about the bird agenda all along, and they seized on her arrest with righteous glee. Just as smoke usually is accompanied by fire, there is an inexorable link between the anti-cat screeds of birders and wildlife biologists and, finally, their taking of the law into their own hands, wrote the Cat Defender blog. Alley Cat Allies was front and center of the news coverage, providing journalists with quotes and background on Dauphines anti-TNR writing, and Peter Wolf of the blog Vox Felina became the Nancy Grace of the trial, digging up anecdotes from neighbors in Georgia who accused her of, among other things, trapping a neighbors pet and bringing it to a place where it would be killed in traffic. Dauphine arguably made matters worse by hiring celebrity lawyer Billy Martin, the lawyer whod unsuccessfully defended Michael Vick in his dogfighting case.
He was not on a winning streak. The researcher was found guilty and fled the city under a barrage of death threats. Her career, the judge said grandly as he imposed a sentence of community service, will never be what it once was. This was cold comfort to cat advocates whod angled for jail time, especially when it turned out to not be quite true. Earlier this year, when Peter Marras The Impact of Free-Ranging Domestic Cats on Wildlife of the United States was released, cat advocateswho instantly dubbed it the Killer Cat Studypointed to a passage in which Marra cites Dauphines work. Alley Cat Allies immediately mounted a petition demanding that the Smithsonian stop funding studies such as Marras, not least because of its reliance on the work of disgraced researcher Dauphine.
I dont really want to talk about Nico at all, Marra says, sitting miserably in an interview accompanied by a publicist from the Smithsonian at the height of the furor. I will say she is a wonderful person. And the evidence was far from conclusive, he adds, with a sidelong glance at the publicist. But this, he says, placing a hand on the study, has nothing to do with that. This is science.
One would think that the bird community would have mourned a study placing avian mortality figures in the billions, but they were ecstatic at the opportunity it provided to reclaim their moral rectitude. People were surprised, and relieved, to find the number was larger than anything previously thought of, says Jonathan Franzen.
But cat people were furious. Theyre using old research and making these very large leaps into what these cats can possibly be doing, said Becky Robinson a few weeks after the study was published. She was irked that the New York Times had covered it without including a counterargument. How could legitimate media outlets be writing about that and not doing their fact-finding? she said.
Truth be told, even bird people had problems with the study, which, as Marra admits, was really a literature review that used figures from studies conducted as long ago as 1987, multiplied by estimated cat abundance, to reach its impressive conclusions. I probably shouldnt say this, says Kerri Ann Loyd, the University of Georgia student who conceived of the KittyCam, but I wish theyd waited for some more research.
Back in Alley Cat Allies Maryland office, Becky Robinson scoops up a black tuxedo cat who has wandered into the room. Do you know what is interesting? she says from behind his furry back. That woman who wrote the Times article lives in Takoma Park. And Peter Marra lives in Takoma Park. How about that? (Times reporter Natalie Angier dismisses the implication that she is the Judy Miller of the Cat-Bird War. To suggest these studies are wrong, thats just silly, she says. All you have to do is look at the cats in my backyard.)
At the zoo, Marra pauses as he digests this new information. Becky Robinson knows where I live? he says.
With her sensible shoes and earnest demeanor, Robinson seems about as threatening as a high-school guidance counselor. But rumors swirling in the bird community suggest maybe he should be nervous. After all, look at what happened to Nico Dauphine. Privately, many bird people believe she wasnt guilty at all. They suspect that her outspokenness made her a target, and that she was set up by Alley Cat Allies. Possibly with the help of the Humane Society. Possibly in some kind of false-flag operation. By his third Scotch, Ed Clark is ready to say it. They were after her, he says. They knew her writing. They wanted to take her down. And they did it.
Do you recall writing about the issue of cat predation? the prosecutor asked. It was day two of Dauphines trial on animal-cruelty charges. Things were not going well for the defendant, and they were about to get worse.
Cat what? interrupted the judge.
I didnt know there was such a word, but fine.
In talking about the issue, cat predation, the prosecutor went on, do you remember writing, Where is the outrage over such slaughter?
That, uh, those were the editors words, not mine, said the defendant.
It was one of many uncomfortable moments in a case that, as bird people had suggested, had a lot of holes. In the beginning, Judge Truman Morrison III seemed persuadable. After all, no cats had died or even taken ill as a result of being poisoned at Dauphines residence, and, as the judge himself had noted, the time line was off: Dauphine had complained to her buildings management about the feral-cat problem well after the night she had allegedly taken matters into her own hands. There were other questions, too. But the judge could only work with what was in front of him, and right now what was in front of him was an accused cat poisoner trying to get out of admitting shed written a letter to the New York Times in support of another cat poisoner. This undermined her credibility, in his view, but it was the video that did her in. The footage from the security camera was grainy and incomplete. In one section, Dauphines neighbor Rachel Sterling, who the judge wouldnt have known was affiliated with Alley Cat Allies, spends a few minutes cleaning up the feeding area, a bag in one hand, a white plastic spoon in the other.
A few hours later, Sterlings husband George approaches the area, looks at it, then comes back with his wife. Im showing George the area where I feed the cats and explaining to him whats going on, Sterling testified.
I dont understand why she feels the need to show her husband, who already knows where she feeds the cats, where she found the poison when shes already cleaned it up, the judge said.
If it were my wife, she told me shed found poison, Id want to see where it was, the prosecutor responded. Theres one last shot of Sterling later that evening, with the bag and the white plastic spoon. Are you layering food down? the judge asked her.
No, Sterling said in court. There was already food there and it was okay. After finishing whatever she is doing, Sterling looks directly into the camera. Then theres the last installment, the one that made the evening news. In it, Dauphine, in a striped winter hat and coat, is bent in concentration over the food. She seems to be taking something out of, or maybe putting something into, a bag. You cant really be sure. Peter Wolf of Vox Felina called the video a disappointment. You dont even see her hands.
But it was enough for Judge Morrison, who announced he had an ocean of other cases to get to. The fact is, he told the court, no one else had approached the area in the time period between Rachel Sterlings putting down the cat food and the time she discovered the crumbly substance and called the Humane Society. Nobody, he told the prosecutor before issuing his guilty verdict, except Ms. Sterling, George for a few seconds, and your client. And the guy from the Humane Society. But it couldnt have been any of them, right? Theyre animal lovers.
Birds are a prey species. Cats are carnivores. End of conversation. Oh, except that I love my indoor/outdoor cat. We had to say goodbye to our 19 year old indoor/outdoor cat Boris this year so not interested in the debate about how indoor only cats live longer. It just seems that way. We feed birds. We call them welfare birds. But we feed them because they amuse us. We are the humans and it amuses us to have birds in our yard. It does not amuse us to have chipmunks, ground squirrels (or very many tree squirrels), or other rodents so we love our cat. It amuses us to live with a cat. It is totally about us and anything beyond that whether from PETA or anyone else is silly. I just spent $300 to have my geriatric cattle dogs ears cleaned and his toenails trimmed. Okay, they’re doing some other tests but that’s just because that’s what vets do. I mainly took him because of the ears and the nails. He’s 105. I love him. I will keep him happy as long as I can but when he no longer has a good quality of life, I will happily pay the vet to put him down. Or Mr. Mercat will take him out to the farm and shoot him. He’s a dog, not a child.
Do you realize how many cute, cuddly worms are cruelly slain by robins every time it rains around here? Who will speak for the orphaned baby worms, huh? WHO?
As a human it amuses me to read your post.
You’re not an FR joke explainer, are you?
I apologize! I thought it was rather obvious that a lesbian had no use for a peter, so why name the dog that?
They’d most likley find them undigestable, and simply bury them from the smell.
I am cat lover, and I agree. Also, they should be tagged, and the owner heavily fined. I am so tired of irresponsible human slime dumpin or not properly caring for their pets.
“They kill for fun”
No, they don’t, you moron. Stop assigning human qualities and motives to animals. They hunt because they are nature’s most efficient killer. It’s what they do. If their hunting drive bothers you, avoid them and adopt a bunny.
Interesting. People often prefer dogs to cats, or vice versa, but I’ve never understood hatred of any innocent animal.
No, neither PETA nor HSUS are animal-friendly. They kill more animals than they adopt out when they are unfortunate enough to fall into their clutches. They would like to keep shelters killing adoptable animals, calling it “bravery” and “courageous” and fight legislation that would improve things for animals across the board. Of course killing cats is not beneath them — They do it all the time!
Indeed they do, but there are many who would rather blame the cats who didn’t ask to be where they are. The irresponsible will react by blaming the cat — although the situation of feral cats is a man-made one and humans who react with anger at ferals show their lack of compassion and reckless lack of responsibility for a situation they created. Pathetic.
(And anyone reading this who doesn’t agree can keep their nonsensical rantings to themselves. Those who call for the killing of feral cats — don’t bother pinging me on this. We already don’t agree!)
but Ive never understood hatred of any innocent animal.
I’d say it speaks volumes of the character of the one expressing the hatred. ‘Nuff said.
Doubling down on the joke explaining?
My post, a true story, is a self-contained witticism. When the reader realizes the lesbian has named her dog Peter and yells to it in public, “Peter, come!”, the reader is supposed to laugh.
If you do not laugh, however, and feel the need to respond to a joke online, one appropriate way to do that is to type “LOL!”
Perhaps they should concentrate on catching, spaying and releasing some cat owners.
I had a lot of cats because people dropped them off in the neighborhood, and it took a while to neuter, tame, and then give away about half of them. Once the dust settled, I got collars with bells, and the bird catchng dropped to almost nothing.
Now 2 are blind, and the third is not a hunter (hereditary blindness). The blind/almost blind ones do catch occasional lizards or rodents, bring them to the front of the house, and if the prey is alive, the cats are rewarded with their fave treat (cheese). Mostly the prey is alive and “relocated”.
Really...this is a REAL THREAT...cats eating birds???? OMG. This reads almost like satire...
AndyMan even prefers it to lovely fresh organic catnip.
We're probably better off not knowing what they put in the stuff.
I’m very pro-cat, especially after seeing a huge blob of bird crap on Mom’s Hyundai. Go Puss!!!!
>> We’re probably better off not knowing what they put in the stuff.
I have to admit, I’ve been tempted to try some myself. Maybe after a few beers...
Clearly the internet is not always the best medium for easy (or friendly) communication.
LOL Good luck with that. Let us know how it goes...if you can still navigate the keyboard.
You are a good sport!
Birds bring over 60 diseases to your backyard.
My cat, Brutus, wakes me up at 5:00 AM every morning to let her outside to go HUNTING for birds, rodents, lizards, bugs, spiders, and anything she can catch. I stumble to the door with her zigzagging under my feet; she hesitates, then hustles out the door. If I don’t get right up and let her out, she gets up in my face and meows pitifully until I get up. Sometimes, she gets a bit confused and wakes me up at 2:30 AM instead; but I tell her “NO!”, and she gets back in her bed for another few hours, until 5:00 AM. - I first named her Zippy and Lambchop; but she refused to answer to those names, will only answer to BRUTUS. (I don’t particularly like that name; but what can you do?)
Maybe next time when she wakes you up, give her some food and she won’t have to go out hunting for breakfast ;)
And yet cats and birds have managed to co-exist for all this time.
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