Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Cats and Birds

I went to Tarrant Park this afternoon to photograph oak marcescence.   But I was distracted by a big white blob up in a tree just east of the park road.  It was too big to be an opossum, and an unlikely sighting when it's so cold.

A snowy owl?  A plastic bag?  What?

Curious, I drove over to get a better look.  It was a large domestic cat - and it was howling.  I got the impression it was a pet that had been "dumped" in the park.

As a bird and bat-watcher, I have been accused - more than once - of being a cat-hater.   Nothing could be further from the truth.

I will tell you "free-roaming" cats are an unacceptable (and unnecessary) source of wildlife death.   According to a study by University of Wisconsin scientists, rural free-roaming cats KILL at least 7.8 million and perhaps as many as 217 million birds a year in the Badger state alone.  

Free-roaming cats are also a serious hazard to human health.

It's a wildlife conservation issue caused by human behavior.  We "learn" that it's okay (even good) for cats to run loose outdoors. 

It's also an animal cruelty issue.  Letting cats (and dogs) run loose in the woods is just plain inhumane.

A happy and healthy cat is an indoor cat.

This kitty was seriously unhappy.

I tried to rescue it.   Unfortunately, it responded to my sincere "here kitty" calls with more howls. It stayed put, up too high in the tree for me to reach.  So I drove home and (at 3pm) called the county sheriff's office (the Humane Society isn't open until 5pm).  The dispatcher said:  we only come out if you actually have the cat (or dog) in hand.  Leave a message on the Humane Society's answering machine.  So I did.

At 6pm, I got a call-back from the Humane Society - exactly where is this cat?  I gave directions to the tree, but I wasn't sure the kitty would still be there.

At 7pm, I got another call from the Humane Society.  The news was not what I expected.

Did they find the tree?  Did they find the kitty?

Yes!  And, she was very happy to be rescued.  Can you hear the purring?

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