Dear Sir Madam,
Further to the letter about cats in the countryside published in the Jan/Feb 2017 issue of The Landsman, I’d like to respond on behalf of Cats Protection.
While we recognise that cats are naturally predatory animals, research by the UK’s leading ornithological organisation, the RSPB, has not shown that cats are the primary cause of decline in numbers of any bird of conservation concern in the UK. Research has cited many other factors for bird and small mammal species loss, including mismanagement and loss of traditional wildlife habitat, climate change and the increased use of pesticides and fertilisers in modern farming practices. Cats also tend to kill weak and sickly birds so it is not clear whether cat predation replaces other forms of death, or is in addition to natural death.
Not all pet cats hunt, and the behaviour reduces as they grow older, but Cats Protection recommends a number of ways that owners can help reduce predation by cats such as keeping cats indoors during the early morning and evening, when prey species are most active; fitting a bell to their collar, ensuring it is a quick-release collar fitted carefully; and using bird tables rather than placing bird feed on the ground. Neutering cats is also important, as neutered cats tend to stay closer to the home, and it helps control over-population of cats. Cats do need to exhibit hunting behaviour to avoid stress and frustration so owners should provide opportunities for cats to play and hunt toys which may reduce their motivation to seek out prey. Fishing rod-type toys are ideal.
Further information about how cats and wildlife can coexist can be found in Cats Protection’s online essential guides Indoor and outdoor cats and Caring for your cat at www.cats.org.uk
Dear Sir Madam,