New York State
For the birders and birds of the Empire State
Why Cats Belong Indoors
Stella Miller, President, Huntington-Oyster Bay Audubon Society
Published in the October 2011 issue of NY Birders
photo courtesy Huntington-Oyster Bay Audubon Society
It's 10am. Do you know where Fluffy is? If you are like many people, and allow your cat to roam outdoors, there is a distinct possibility that at this moment, Fluffy is stalking an unaware bird, ready to pounce with deadly accuracy. "But wait, Fluffy is well fed," you say. That doesn't matter. Cats do not always hunt because they are hungry. They hunt because of an innate instinct for hunting. They hunt because it is, dare I say it, fun. "Well, Fluffy wears a bell and that will serve as a warning," you say. No again. A bell is useless. Wild animals do not recognize the sound of a bell as a danger signal and even if they did, most cats learn to stalk and seize their prey silently, despite the presence of a bell on their collar.
Cats as Our Companions
Cats' Impact on Birds and Other Wildlife
Cats also kill prey animals such as mice, chipmunks, squirrels, rabbits and other small mammals, competing with native species such as hawks, owls, foxes and other larger wild predators that depend on these animals for their survival. Statistics show that the combined numbers of birds and small mammals killed each year by cats is close to one billion. Allowing a well fed house cat to compete for wild food sources places native predators at a disadvantage. Bottom line, cats are an invasive and alien species and do not belong in our ecosystem.
The Dangers Cats Themselves Face
What Huntington-Oyster Bay Audubon is
Doing to Help
When you really think about it, the greatest gift you can give your cat is to allow it to live a pampered, spoiled life inside your home. For more information and to download the brochure, please visit: http://www.hobaudubon.org/Cats- Indoors.asp.
One final note: if you are no longer able to care for your cat for any reason, please do not release it outdoors, thinking it will fend for itself, or that someone will find and take care of it. Chances are your cat will end up dead. Please take your unwanted cat to a local shelter or rescue organization. Think of your cat's quality of life as well as the lives of our native species. Birds and other wildlife are already struggling to survive in a world filled with human caused obstacles. As caretakers of our natural world, why make it more difficult for them by allowing your cat to roam outside? For the health and happiness of your cat, for the benefit of wild animals, and for your peace of mind, please, keep your cat indoors.
For more information, visit Huntington Oyster Bay Audubon's Cats Indoors web page.
Stella Miller, a lifelong conservationist and wildlife enthusiast, is president of the Huntington- Oyster Bay Audubon Society. She shares her home with two pampered indoor cats, Tricki Woo and Juniper.