“Keep Cats Safe & Save Bird Lives” by Nature Canada
Cats and wildlife need to be kept separate, for the benefit of both. For the cats’ sake, for wildlife’s sake, and for our own sake, we need to improve how we care for our beloved feline friends. Permitting your cat to roam unsupervised puts your pet and local wildlife at risk.
One of the most often-heard arguments for letting cats roam and hunt outdoors is that it’s natural. Being outdoors is indeed natural for cats — after all, that’s where they originated — and hunting is a normal instinct in cats.
The problem with the ‘natural’ argument is that it doesn’t take into account the fact that we feed and care for our pet cats. That care and feeding of our cats constitutes interference in the logic of the food chain. It also means that there are a lot more cats than would occur without that care.
The reality is that letting our cats outside to roam and hunt disrupts the balance of nature. Domestic cats aren’t indigenous to North America, and we keep very large numbers of them as pets. They are also concentrated where people live, in our cities and towns.
Birds and wildlife don’t have the same advantages, and when we let our cats roam freely, we expose birds and wildlife to a very high density of cats.
That’s all about the balance of nature; what about what’s good for your cat?
Many owners feel that letting their cat do what’s natural — roaming and hunting — is integral to honouring the cat’s nature as an animal. But cats face unnatural dangers in our environment. Just like dogs, cats need supervision to be protected from traffic, other cats and animals, toxins and poisons, and the many diseases and parasites they can catch, not to mention getting lost. That’s why the Canadian Federation of Humane Societies and other cat-care organizations urge cat-owners to keep their cats from roaming unsupervised.
Pet cats roam and hunt for stimulation, not sustenance. There are plenty of alternative ways to meet that need without disrupting the balance of nature. You might like to explore Safe Happy Cat, our guide to keeping your cat sufficiently stimulated indoors, or Safe Outdoor Options, a resource detailing the options to let your cat out without the risks of roaming unsupervised. You might also find Tips for Transitioning and Dealing with Escape Artists useful.
Letting pet cats roam unsupervised outdoors harms the natural world and isn’t good for the cats.
Being a responsible cat owner keeps your cat safe, helps reduce the number of unowned cats in our community, and is better for the environment.
The good news is that with a little effort on your part, you can protect wildlife and your cat. Here are some links to resources on how to Keep Cats Safe & Save Bird Lives:
Safe Outdoor Options (how to provide safe outdoor access for your cat): http://catsandbirds.ca/research/safe-outdoor-options
Safe, Happy Cat (how to provide a sufficiently stimulating indoor environment): http://catsandbirds.ca/research/safe-happy-cat
Tips for Transitioning (how to retrain an outdoor cat to be a happy indoor cat): http://catsandbirds.ca/research/tips-for-transitioning
Dealing with Escape Artists (help for cat-owners whose cats are constantly try to escape): http://catsandbirds.ca/research/dealing-with-escape-artists