Since I feed birds, squirrels and rabbits in my yard, I would like to suggest that I am providing an all-day adventure for my felines when they are not busy napping.
I provide them all the fascination of a moving picture show without them going outdoors. In fact, my felines are never allowed access to the outdoors except to go to the veterinarian in an escape-proof carrier.
That is why the results of a report and study prepared by the Smithsonian Institution of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service regarding "free-ranging" domestic cats surprised me. "Free-ranging" is described as owned inside-outside cats to unowned strays. The results of the report clearly causes controversy between angry bird-watchers and feline-fanciers, hence, clearly suggesting a Sylvester/Tweetybird-type of argument.
The report concludes that domestic cats kill 1.4 to 3.7 billion birds annually within the boundaries of the continental United States. The report paints our house pets as brutal little "Simbas" with killer instincts. I also question the science or statistics of a report with such a large range or scale of estimated kills.
The report begs my next question. Are our felines that efficient at hunting, even when hunting behavior is a given component of a cat's personality?
I suggest that humans may have helped develop this instinct when you consider the anthropology and origins of the feline-human relationship. As we developed settlements and towns, people enjoyed the cats' natural ability to get rid of pests like mice.
To satisfy your own curiosity about your cat's instincts, watch its behavior as it looks out the window or as it chases a bug that you unwittingly left in the house. They may have the hunting instinct, but are easily bored and abandon the chase when the chase takes too long or becomes difficult.
In my personal pride of felines, all of them have the instinct, but only one is efficient at capture. She also will never eat what she captures. My experience and observations, just with my own felines, makes me question the accuracy of the report.
In conclusion, all responsible cat owners should keep their felines inside, or limit their outdoor exposure to an open, safely secured, screened window or door. Perhaps even a cat enclosure if your cat does not have the instinct to try and escape. If all cat owners were responsible, there would be no reason for the feline-bird controversy to exist.
If you pay attention to how free-ranging (outside-inside) felines harm themselves, the debate would not exist either. Some evils of the cat world involve dodging traffic, harm from wild animals, falling into sewers or drain storms, and ingesting toxic chemicals like antifreeze, fertilizers and rat poisoning. We see it all at The Buddy Foundation.
We must recognize that the outdoors is not a safe place for our felines. The policy of The Buddy Foundation is "Inside Only!" This policy easily solves the debate between bird watchers and feline fanciers.
• Mattie and Candie are two female black-and-white, 3½-year-old, domestic longhair cats that must go together. They came to Buddy from animal control after losing their only home. They are both spayed and front paw declawed and very sweet. They would make a great addition to any family.
• Sutton is an 8-year-old, domestic shorthair, spayed, brown and orange torbie, who is front paw declawed. She was brought to Buddy by Anti Cruelty. She is just a love and wants to be on your lap. If you are looking for a lap cat, Sutton is for you.
The Buddy Foundation will be sponsoring a dog wash at Knuppers Nursery, 1801 N. Rand Road, in Palatine, Aug. 17. Cost is $15 for small dogs, $25 for medium and large dogs. Nail clipping by Jimminy Clippers will also be available. For information, call (847) 290-5806.
Join the Buddy Foundation Sunday, Aug. 4, for the last day of Adopt-A-Thon, with special hours and adoption fees. Call for details at (847) 290-5806.
• The Buddy Foundation is a nonprofit (501c3), all volunteer, no-kill animal shelter dedicated to the welfare of stray, abused and abandoned cats and dogs. For information, call (847) 290-5806 or visit thebuddyfoundation.org.