But there’s Cats in my yard….
One of my biggest pet peeves we hear in a rehabilitation centre. During the summer months, this is a common statement we hear when a member of the public has discovered a fledgling bird in their yard. “But I can’t put it back because there’s cats in my yard”. So should we collect all fledgling birds and bring them to rehab and try to raise them ourselves? No one sees the fact that all adult birds have gone through the same developmental stage where they are stranded on the ground to learn how to fly and how to find food. Do they not see that these parents have successfully lived through the “cats in the neighborhood” and can properly teach their young on where to hide and what to do? Why do humans believe that we should take the young away from their parents to raise in a unnatural way instead of controlling our cats or the feral cat problem in our city. Outdoor and feral cats kill approximately 2 million songbirds a year. However, we need to remove the songbirds and not the cats? I am a rehabber of 20 years and we do try our best to raise true orphans or sick and injured juveniles in our care but when their natural parents are right there, ready to take care of their own young, why do people think we need to intervene nature. Do you think we can do a better job than their natural parents? Unfortunately, we cannot. We humans cannot teach songbirds to sing to their mates, learn warning calls of predators nearby, to be socially stable, to feed all natural diet without having to replace any vitamins or minerals, and to be psychologically healthy. I am not saying: “Let nature take its course” or its the circle of life but there’s a proper place for humans to interfere and when to watch from a distance. Yes, if the neighborhood cat has discovered the nest of baby bunnies and has killed a few already, I would not recommend leaving the rest of the family for the cats supper. But naturally, in the evening, young birds will bed down amongst the small shrubs and bushes and most cats can’t find them. Cats usually discover the young birds during the daylight when birds become more active. So if you decide to let your cat out, please only do it at night but most importantly watch your pet when its outdoors. Cats don’t kill the songbirds for nutrition or hunger. They “play” with their victim until they get bored.
So as I finished my last call this evening with the same response from the caller: “but I have cats in my neighborhood”, I secretly wished the bird didn’t fly into their yard that evening, and he would still be with his parents as I write this.