Cats, Predators or Pets

I didn't notice the big black and brown cat perched on the other side of the fence peering into our backyard.  I was busy watching the gray and white mocking bird with a long black tail dipping its beak into the cool water inside the birdbath.

I didn’t notice the big black and brown cat perched on the other side of the fence peering into our backyard.  I was busy watching the gray and white mocking bird with a long black tail dipping its beak into the cool water inside the birdbath. It is a sight I can see most at any time of the day...

It is a sight I can see most at any time of the day because our yard is usually filled with birds. We have Sparrows that build nests in the eave of our back porch, doves that nest in the big tree that shade the bird feeders, Woodpeckers hammering away at all hours of the day, and many other birds flocking hungrily on the platform feeder.

Colorful little Finches hop on the limbs of the potted rubber plant, a Tufted Titmouse shyly checks out the feeder that hangs from the tree limb, and Hummingbirds dart between the honeysuckle bush and the nectar feeders.

My sister often teased me for sitting on the back porch and taking pictures of the birds.  She says I should get a life, but watching birds makes me feel like I have a good life.  It's a hobby I enjoy immensely.

We buy various seeds to attract different kinds of birds, fill our feeders each morning, make sure water is dripping in the birdbath, and keep binoculars close to check out new species that may come by.

So I guess you would say birds are our pets.  We can't touch them, and we don't name them, but we look forward to the time we spend watching them every morning and evening. Like many people who enjoy birds, I can tell when a new bird comes into the yard.

That's why I came to the patio doors that morning. I recognized the familiar sound of the Mockingbird. After watching him for a moment, I turned away to get some mealworms I had bought to lure him to the feeder. I returned just in time to see the big black and brown cat lunge over the wood fence and pounce on the unsuspecting little creature.

He attacked in such a swift movement the Mockingbird never knew what hit him.  The cat's teeth covered both his wings, and the bird seemed paralyzed. I opened the door and ran toward the cat, yelling, but it was too late.  Just as abruptly as he entered our yard, he was gone, with the Mockingbird securely in his mouth.

Cats can be pets or predators.  It depends on whose backyard they are in. In our daughter's home, their big beautiful black cat named Ginga is a wonderful pet. They had her neutered when they first got her because they felt they could only care for one cat.  They feed her well, make sure she gets her immunizations, and hardly ever let her go outside.

Cats are predators and intruders in the yard of every other person who enjoys birds’ sights and sounds. If a cat has no one to care for it, its natural survival instinct is to hunt. But, even if they are cared for, they are natural predators when they are allowed to roam the neighborhood.

One of the saddest sights is a thin, sick-looking cat that is obviously starving. Unfortunately, some of them will get run over by a car, and others will die of diseases. It may be easy to say yes when someone asks if you want a cute little kitten for your child, but you should consider the responsibility of caring for that animal.

  • First of all, they grow up, and they aren't always cute.
  • Second, they have to be fed, watered and kept in the owner's home or yard.
  • Third, they should have their immunizations and be neutered unless the owner is prepared to care for more cats.

According to the United States Census Bureau, there are over 60 million pet cats. Of those 60 million cats, the American Bird Conservancy estimates about 40 million are unsupervised outside either part of the day or all the time. That means that only about 35% of cat owners keep their cats indoors at all times or constantly supervised while outdoors.

The good news is that there are resources that can benefit cats and the people who care about them.  My friend adopted a stray cat and had her neutered through the Smyth County Humane Society.  SCHS coordinates van transportation to the Margaret B. Mitchell Clinic in Bristol twice monthly. Animals are picked up at Tractor Supply in Marion at 6:30 a.m. and returned the following day at noon to be picked by their owners.  To make an appointment, call (276) 780-7702.

I was really disappointed when the Mockingbird was attacked in my backyard, but it wasn't the first time.  At one time, I spent a lot of time chasing stray cats out of our yard. But then I discovered Smyth County Animal Rescue at 1125 Iron Street in Marion.

Recently, a large, beautiful Siamese cat found solace (and many healthy birds) in my backyard.  I borrowed a pet carrier and took her to the Animal Rescue center, and they found the owners.  If there is no owner, they assured me they would find a home for the cats even if they have to go out of state.  Their number is (276)789-5693.

Regardless of what state or town you live in, your local County Humane Society can usually give you the answers about what to do with stray cats or dogs.

It's not that I don't like cats; it's just that I like birds better.

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Deana Landers
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I have had many roles in life
Pastor’s Wife , Mom/Nana , Nurse/Health Educator, Writer , Christian Speaker
I can't remember a time when I wasn't writing stories, either in my head or in my journal.

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