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posted: 2/27/2014 10:01 AM

It may make more sense to leave your cat inside

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  • Rock

    Courtesy of The Buddy Foundation

  • Cashmere

    Courtesy of The Buddy Foundation

By Mary Hayashi

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 am providing them all the fascination of a moving picture show, all without them even taking a step 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 and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife service regarding "free-ranging" domestic cats surprised me.

"Free-ranging" can be described as owned inside-outside cats to unknown strays, including cats that do not wish to be totally domesticated. The results of the report clearly causes controversy between angry bird watchers and feline fanciers. Hence, clearly suggesting a Sylvester-Tweety Bird 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 the 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 the pet'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 pets like mice.

To satisfy your own curiosity about your feline's instincts, watch his behavior as he looks out the window or as he 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 exposure to the outdoors 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 drainstorms, and ingesting toxic chemicals like antifreeze, fertilizers and rat poison. 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!"

Featured Felines

• Rock is a 1½-year-old, beautiful, black-and-white domestic mediumhair. Rock is a little shy until he gets to know you. He loves to play with toys and will make a wonderful addition to any household. Rock does get along with other cats, is neutered and is up to date with all his shots.

• Cashmere is a 9-year-old, domestic longhair, male, orange cat. This cat is absolutely beautiful. Although he is an older cat, Cashmere loves to play and loves people. He may be older, but he has many more wonderful years ahead of him.

• 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 The Buddy Foundation at (847) 290-5806 or visit