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Birder who loves cats

I have a terrible confession: the article I submitted about "Waterfowl in Winter" is not the exact same article I used to try out for Bellaonline.

It's about the same subject, and much of the content is very similar. But it is not exactly the same. Why? Because when I went to open up the article to cut-n-paste it, all the writing was gone, except for the number 2. Somebody had deleted my entire article, replaced it with that single number. I unknowingly saved it and lost my original article forever.

I know exactly who is guilty of this terrible crime against copyrights. I would sue her, except I would never collect. She has no salary to attach, has never worked a day in her life, and does little except eat, sleep and step on computer keyboards. The most useful thing she has ever done is catch a roach.

But I love her to death.

She is, of course, my cat Minka, one of three felines I have. I also have a beautiful cockapoo dog. Most birders that I've known like dogs, but not everyone likes cats, and I have mixed feelings about that.

I was once a member of the local branch of a very famous birding club. I didn't renew my subscription when they went on a vendetta against cats living outside. In fact, I wrote the president a e-mail of complaint. He wrote back, but I never opened my e-mail to read his defense. They still have this campaign, although it is toned down quite a bit from a few years ago.

I know that it is not good for birds if a bunch of cats are hanging around outside. I agree, if you adopt a kitten, train it to remain indoors. My last six cats have been indoor only. But I could not agree on their position toward stray cats.

My apartment complex has always been stray-topia. At any given time (and I've lived here over 30 years), there are at least 5 or 6 cats around, attracted by the garbage cans, the bay and the park nearby. Every cat I've ever owned, except for one, has come from this population. Many more live outdoors but are taken care of by local cat lovers. Right now, my mother and I are feeding Minka's mother and brother, but we can't take them in. They are wilder than she was, don't want to live indoors, and besides, we don't have any more room. As far as I know, they've never killed any birds, but they may well have.

So should they be rounded up and "humanely removed" to a shelter, where they would likely die within a week? I say no. My neighbor spayed and neutered many cats when we had a huge cat colony several years ago. Today there are only few left. But this bird club was opposed to even this type of cat management. They claimed that all strays have horrible lives, die horrible deaths, and would be better off in a tiny cage, waiting for the gas chamber. While some of the strays I have known have died sad deaths, but most died of cancer and other natural causes. The mother of most of the cats is still alive at age sixteen. She's never been indoors a day in her life, except in a garage or basement. Her "husband" was adopted and moved away with his new family. Many others found homes with my neighbors as well. I doubt they would have been adopted from a shelter, but people who saw them outside every day took pity on them, and saved their nine lives.

I love birds. But birds are animals. How can someone love one animal, but wish for the extermination of another? I understand the damage cats can do to bird populations, but that is natural selection for you. If the birds were an endangered species, I might support moving cats to a no-kill shelter. But to kill cats to protect a species with a healthy population.

To quote Hall and Oates, "I can't go for that. No can do."

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