We live in a suburb with a population of somewhere around 80,000 people, but we live on the northern edge of our city on an unpaved road that has a rural atmosphere. We were happy when we found this property with so much natural beauty and privacy. But there’s a dark side to this type of area: It apparently looks like a good place to dump unwanted cats.
Don’t even get me started on the irresponsible and ignorant humans who would do that to a cat….really, don’t get me started. Actually, I’ve wondered if some of the cats we’ve had around here in the past few years might belong to people in the neighborhood who just let them wander around outdoors (again, don’t get me started on that either). The latest ones seem like they aren’t used to being around people, but they look well-fed and healthy. So I don’t know where they came from. All I know is that they’re causing trouble, the least of which is that they get our cats all agitated every night and wake us up.
I’m a cat lover, and have had cats my entire life. We currently have two very spoiled indoor cats. And anyone who reads my blog knows that birds are also one of the great joys of my life, and that we have a yard full of bird feeders. We watch our birds so much that we feel we know some of them individually. (Like Oliver and Harriet, our resident cardinal couple who raise babies here every year, for example.) I’ve read that outdoor cats are responsible for killing huge numbers of birds and other small animals each year. So when I saw one of these stray cats hunkered down right below a Downy Woodpecker the other day, I knew I had to do something before he caught a bird.
First I tried to call the cats to me. The bigger gray one wouldn’t come close enough, but the little black one let me pet him a couple times. I tried to pick him up but he freaked out and I let him go.
Then today I happened to glance out the window just as the little black one grabbed a chipmunk from below the feeders. He took off into the woods and I didn’t see him for an hour or so. When I saw him back under the feeders later, I got a cat carrier and a can of cat food and lured him right into the cage. Easy peasy. I took him into the laundry room, my usual quarantine room for holding stray cats. I let him out of the carrier so he could eat and walk around. But right away Mickey and Dexter were outside the door meowing. And the little stray was sniffing at the door and meowing too. Then I noticed that he was spraying urine on the walls and the dryer door. He seemed to calm down a bit after he ate, but the yowling got louder and more frantic. When I then realized that the Humane Society was closed until Monday morning, I couldn’t imagine how stressful it was going to be if I kept him in the house until then. (And how much pee I’d have to clean up from the walls…) So here’s the stupid thing I did: I decided to let him back outside, assuming that I could just as easily recapture him on Monday. I knew it wasn’t the optimal solution, but I thought it would be ok.
So I went to the kitchen to wash the dish I’d used to feed him, and as I looked out the window over the sink, guess what I saw? The darn little cat was chasing a rabbit around the driveway! OMG, I knew he wasn’t hungry, so this was a very bad sign. This cat is clearly an experienced kill-for-pleasure-only feline. Heck, I doubt if he even ate the chipmunk after he took it into the woods. Cursing my stupidity, I grabbed the cat carrier and went back out after him. But suddenly he was nowhere to be found. I called and called, but nothing. It’s almost dark out now, so I’m done for the night. I hope the rabbit escaped.
I have a soft heart for animals, but yes, I know all about “the circle of life” and all that, and I can deal with it when a hawk grabs a bird or rabbit from our yard. After all, hawks ARE birds, and they need to eat too. But cats are domestic animals, not meant to live “in the wild”. They multiply too fast and spread disease and suffer traumatic deaths.
I know the whole issue of indoor and/or outdoor cats is controversial, and I have to admit that I sometimes feel sad for my kitties living a totally indoor life. Especially on a pretty day when I get to go outside and they sit forlornly looking out the screen door at me. I hate that. (And we’re trying to get a screened porch built for them…) But I keep them indoors because I believe it’s the right thing to do. Even with all the negatives. (Of course you’re entitled to a different opinion, and I don’t want to debate it with anyone right now.)
So anyway…I’m getting a little off topic here. I hope to be able to recapture the little cat before Monday morning — and the big gray one eventually. I usually cry when I drop them off at the shelter, but it’s the only thing I know to do for them. I have to harden my heart and just do it. But I will say one thing in closing:
I’m begging you, cat owners, please please please spay or neuter your pets!! There’s no excuse for letting them have babies just because they’re so cute, and you think you can find homes for all of them, or whatever reason. There are far too many “cute” cats being euthanized in shelters each day. And if you want to love a cat, please adopt one from a shelter instead of buying it from a pet store. Thank you.