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Cats a nuisance to birds, people

Karen Klitz Berkeley
Tuesday June 25, 2002

To the Editor: 

I was surprised and very displeased to learn that the City has been paying out $25,000 to the feral cat rescuers to maintain the feral cats in our neighborhoods (6/19).  

We've had feral cats defecating in our garden and killing birds for the 15 years we have lived here. We did not have this situation in other cities where we've lived. As we get a great deal of enjoyment from watching the birds in our garden, we do not appreciate finding piles of their feathers, not to mention remains of young birds as they are learning to fly.  

Of course we cannot even know what other species of ground-dwelling wildlife, such as garter snakes, lizards and frogs, might inhabit our garden if there were not the relentless pressure from these human-provided predators. I value and enjoy wild animals very much, and am frustrated that I cannot prevent their predation by cats in my own yard. 

I also find it difficult to enjoy gardening, cutting flowers or harvesting vegetables with cat feces lying about, covered by flies and the smell pervading the area. The cat-feeding people near here love to put out food, but they have yet to rush over to shovel cat feces out of my garden. For some reason, their right to feed any and all cats outdoors supercedes my right to a cat-and-poop-free garden. 

How responsible are these so-called cat-rescuers? Do they make sure that their charges receive regular health care after they are neutered and released?  

Do they protect them from cars, dogs, fleas, and internal parasites, or is this inconvenient? Are we talking about real pet ownership, or superficial feel-good behavior, basically leaving these animals exposed to danger, disease and fending for themselves most of the time? It is not surprising that outdoor cats have a life span about one fifth that of indoor cats. So much for saving ferals from an early death. 

I want to say to the cat-rescuers: there is not just one valuable animal in town. Why are you so blind to all the animals that cats injure, torture, and kill (namely, everything smaller than themselves)? Are these others not warm and furry enough? Should children learn that it is only domestic animals that deserve appreciation and protection? Cats can make fine pets and need not harm wildlife or become injured if they are kept indoors or in a frequently maintained outdoor enclosure. Besides rescuing, how about teaching yourselves a type of pet ownership responsibility that extends beyond your own needs to include the rest of the human community? 

By the way, there must be hundreds of less destructive uses for twenty five grand in this city. How about some new tire tubes for the neighborhood kids' bikes or a basketball hoop for them? Some bird feed? 


Karen Klitz