Responsibilities in cat ownership
Anyone with an appreciation and understanding for the wildlife trying to adapt to or simply exist in the suburban environment of our towns must cringe when travelling the streets late at night.
The dim glow of streetlights on roads, nature strips and footpaths reveal a tip-of-the-iceberg snapshot of an often-deadly activity occurring in the shadows.
The sight of cats, prompted into fallalert mode by the arrival of the night and on patrol throughout our neighborhoods, is an all-too common sight.
The coming of dusk signals a death warrant, not only for any mouse that might find itself out in the open, but also for any bird, bat, lizard, frog, bug or just about anything small enough that a cat can kill.
It seems hard to believe that cute fluffy thing curled up in a ball on the couch that always seems to be in perpetual state of half-sleep can be the instrument of death.
The truth is cats, wonderful pets and important companion animals for many, are also among the most resilient and brilliant nocturnal predators on the planet.
The sparkle that suddenly appears in their eyes when something gets their attention provides more than a hint of their capabilities.
They are a marvel of stealth and killing efficiency, especially against defenceless roosting birds.
Small puffy mounds of feathers on the lawn or under a tree, or the occasional headless skink in the driveway often provide tell-tale signs of how these seemingly benign family pets can transform if given lengthy access to a night-time environment. Many years ago owners of a roaming cat at Vectis, west of Horsham, were horrified when they discovered the ‘treasure’ they had been praising their tabby for catching was not a rat – but a sugar glider.
In another case, a Horsham couple, the owners of a seemingly lethargic but night-wandering cat, lamented at the sudden disappearance of the family of willy wagtails that greeted them on the back yard lawn every morning.
It was after the discovery of tiny black feathers in kitty’s bed and under the lemon tree that the penny dropped.
We are privileged to have some of the most unique wildlife in the world visit or make a home in our backyards and neighborhoods.
It seems bizarre that some of us have few qualms about dishing them up on a plate to Mr Meow.
Many of us have shared and cherished opportunities of having cats as pets. They can be great companions, stress relievers and, if nothing else, members of the family.
But if we want to continue to have the benefits of nature visiting our back door then kitty must stay inside at night.