I am a bonafide cat dad. Now, if you talk to my partner, she would argue that I was not a cat lover until I met the beautiful cat in the photo above. Calliope made me into the person who dresses up his cats in scarves, aprons, and other outfits. Aside from the scarf, you would never have guessed that she was a street cat at one point. Streets cats, otherwise know as barn cats, feral cats, alley cats, and strays, are becoming a huge problem throughout many parts of the world. But this is not always a shared view point by many folks throughout the world. Often when I ask people why they let their cats outside, its met with a volley of responses. Some of my favorites are:
"They just like the fresh air!"
"They have friends out there."
And my favorite:
"They don't go out there to hunt things, they wouldn't kill birds or other animals."
Now, I would love to believe that Calliope wouldn't go out and kill birds, reptiles, and rodents, but I also know she is a carnivore. There are certain things that they cannot help, and hunting things are one of them. We can see this when we watch dust and light reflects throughout the house! So, the big question is, what is the big deal? Why should we care about keeping our house cats inside?
While there are a plethora of reasons to keep the kitties inside, the biggest is the impact on the environment. Now there is something we do not talk about enough as cat owners. Our beloved furballs can be a huge detriment to our ecosystems. While it is always entertaining to watch my cats hunt bugs in the house, or chasing down their toys, it is very easy to forget how effective they are as hunters. Outside there is not a huge difference, except their prey is bigger than bugs. Birds are often a group of animals that gets hugely impacted by outdoor cats. While there is not an easy way to identify an exact death number of birds, conservative estimates are staggering. On the low end of bird deaths, 1.3 billion birds a year. Each year! That is an insane number of birds that are being killed by cuddly cats. They start to look significantly less cute when you consider that massacre.
Now look at mammal death caused by cats. Mammals such as mice, voles, squirrels, and other small creatures are also easy targets for cats. The low estimate is 6.3 billion animals killed a year. While some of us might be happy that there are fewer rodents riling about, it is not something to take lightly. They might cause us grief and fright, but they play incredibly important roles in ecosystems. Both mammals and birds play vital roles not only as living creatures, but also as food sources for native species that require that energy to reproduce and survive. Especially when we have what ends up being a higher level predator in the environment in numbers that even native felines don't show up in. These species also have a role in pest control, insect control, and seed dispersal.
Now what can be done about our beloved furry friends? Easiest solution is to keep your cats indoors. Don't let them outside alone. If you are deciding to let them outside, take them out on a leash! It is very fun to see them playing anyway, and to explore with your cats. On a larger scale project, providing services for house cats and feral cats alike. Spaying and neutering your pets and those you might find on the streets. This helps lower the number of feral cats born each year! Kittens are adorable but only if they are inside. I know that Hawaii has a program where they will fix street cats for free (that is where my significant other got Calliope!).
Currently, I have not one, but two indoor cats sitting on my lap. I love them, and I love most cats I encounter, but I do not love free roaming cats. It isn't safe for the cats, nor is it good for the environment. Bring them back inside so they can snuggle with you instead of slaughtering outside.
About the Creator
Adventurer and nature enthusiast. Aspiring children's book author, novelist, and poet. Perpetual dreamer. My thoughts and ramblings are lost within the multitudes of notebooks I purchase and I don't have any hesitation in adding one more.