Last night i dreamt of cats.
But, as with most dreams, by the time i'd woken up i couldn't really remember exactly what had happened in the dream itself. However, it did get me thinking about another aspect of cats that i do know & have experience about.
I live in an urban area & in my small patch i have noticed a major change over the past year.
Up until approx a year ago we used to have a number of garden birds that populated the area. That's apart from the obvious seagulls that you would expect, due to the close proximity of the sea.
Now, these garden birds were not exactly exotic. Just sparrows, blackbirds, blue tits, thrushes etc. Although we did get the occasional more interesting species. But, it was good to see & hear them anyway.
We used to have a big family group of sparrows that lived in a honeysuckle bush out the back of our house. You could hear them frolicking in & around the bush & in a strange way it was comforting to hear them.
As a birthday present, a year ago, i was even bought a nice, new bird box to fix on our wall. In the hope that the birds might be tempted to use it to build a nest in there. This had happened in the past, before the old box fell apart that is!
That box has never been put up. Why?....
Well, approx a year ago, some new people moved in down the road from us & brought with them their two cats. At around the same time, more cats arrived with another family.
Within a matter of weeks, all the garden birds had disappeared. Frightened off presumably?
Now, i have absolutely nothing against cats & actually like them & for some strange reason, they seem to like me too. My wife thinks it's because i tend not to make too much of a fuss about them. Maybe they consider me a challenge? Who knows?
Domestic cats kill millions of birds every year in the UK.
Now, if they were wild animals & killed them for food, as a means of survival, i wouldn't have a problem with that. But, domestic cats are, generally, very well cared for & have no real need to kill for food.
They tend to kill birds because it is in their nature & you can't really blame then for that i guess. They also kill them as a weird kind of present for their owners.
How often have cat owners been presented with a dead bird, or animal? I've seen it happen on a number of occasions.
I vividly remember being at my in-laws house when their cat caught a garden bird. The noise from the bird as it was being played with before it was killed was distressing & upsetting for all who heard it. Including the cats owners.
But, if you own a cat, what do you expect?
It's a bit like us humans killing for sport & we all know how that is generally viewed don't we!
Now, i don't blame the cats for this garden carnage. As i said, it's in the cats nature to do this.
So what can be done?
As with any pet, the owners should give careful consideration of what owning the pet will actually mean for themselves & for their life as a whole.
For example, what will it really mean to your valued garden bird population when you get a cat?
These things are so often not thought of before acquiring any pet. And the blame for that can be laid fairly & squarely at the door of the pet owner, nobody else.
This is obviously part of a much bigger discussion & one i don't intend to go into here.
So, please give some consideration for what you are potentially doing when you think about getting that pet. That decision can often have far bigger implcations than you might imagine.
All i know is that in my garden there are now no birds, or birdsong & i have a brand new bird box sitting idle in a cupboard.
Here's hoping i'll be able to put that bird box in it's rightful place one day.