Cats

What’s new pussy cat?

Whoa whoa whoa whoa.

The Curmudgeon has never been much of a pet person.

Okay, that’s an understatement:  the truth is he doesn’t like animals at all.  Doesn’t hate them but doesn’t like them.  He’s very fortunate, he should add, that in addition to finding a spectacular wife so late in life he also found a pretty great dog, the very lovely Sable (pictured right).  Sable understands the terms of the relationship, which The Curmudgeon states often:  “No nose, no tongue.”

That’s a reference to the dog’s nose and tongue, by the way, not The Curmudgeon’s.  Sable gives him a quizzical look when he says this but uses neither her nose nor her tongue when showing affection, so The Curmudgeon considers this a small victory and continues to tolerate the presence of this canine in his life.

You have to take the bad with the good.  Mrs. Curmudgeon is worth it.

In the past The Curmudgeon generally preferred cats to dogs, mostly because cats have generally been so indifferent to his presence.  When cats encounter you for the first time they come over and check you out.  If you show no interest in them, they show no further interest in you.  The Curmudgeon’s mother, for example, has a cat, and Tomas hasn’t come within ten feet of him in years.

But it turns out that those sweet, innocent cats are pretty destructive creatures, or so The Curmudgeon learned when he read a review of a book about cats and their role in our natural habitat.

It isn’t pretty, as illustrated by the following excerpts from the New York Review of Books review of the book Cat Wars:  The Devastating Consequences of a Cuddly Killer.

You wouldn’t want to meet this guy in a dark alley

Free-roaming domestic cats… are an environmental menace of staggering and still-escalating proportions. They are “cuddly killers” that butcher tens of billions of songbirds, small mammals, reptiles, and lizards each year and push vulnerable species toward extinction. Cats hunt when they are hungry and hunt when they are full. “In the United States,” the authors write, “more birds and mammals die at the mouths of cats than from wind turbines, automobile strikes, pesticides and poisons, collisions with skyscrapers and windows, and other so-called direct anthropogenic causes combined.”

 And this:

 …attribute about a third of the annual cat-linked carnage to pet cats that are allowed to come and go as they please. The rest is the work of unowned cats: former pets that were abandoned or wandered off—otherwise known as strays—and the feral offspring of strays. The loose-cat problem is not limited to the US. The prestigious International Union for Conservation of Nature lists Felis catus as one of the hundred “worst invasive alien species” in the world, right up there with the Anopheles mosquito, the zebra mussel, and Dutch elm disease.

 And there’s more:

 For island-bound species, cats of all colors are a sign of bad luck. In a 2011 review in the journal Global Change Biology examining wildlife crises on 120 islands, Felix Medina and his colleagues concluded that cats helped cause the decline or extinction of 123 species of songbirds, parrots, seabirds, and penguins; twenty-five species of iguanas, lizards, turtles, and snakes; and twenty-seven species of small mammals, including a lemur and a bat.

Mmmm, lunch!

More on the impact of cats:

… up to 4 billion birds, 22 billion small mammals, 822 million reptiles, and 299 million amphibians are killed by free-ranging cats each year—and that’s just in this country.

While much of this damage is done by feral cats, surely cat owners are willing to do their part to limit the damage their own animals do, right?

Well, not so much, apparently.

The number of cat owners who allow their cats to roam outside is about 50 percent, and the figure shows scant signs of declining. In 2015, when Scottish researchers presented cat owners with proof of their pets’ habitual killing sprees, 98 percent of the owners said it didn’t matter, they had no intention of keeping their cats inside full-time, and 60 percent denied their cats were really harming wildlife—surely there were enough chaffinches to spare.

Who knew our feline friends – make that YOUR feline friends because they’re no friend of The Curmudgeon – were such incredibly destructive animals?

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Comments

  • pastorbeetle  On September 18, 2017 at 8:57 am

    Thanks for the ammo, Curm.
    Mrs. WhateverImcallingmyself had cats when I married her (again, the good with the bad), with the understanding that when the last one died, there would be no more. The last one lived 24 years! (It was mocking me) Anyway, a deal is a deal and we have had no felines under our roof since.
    Now, however, she is missing the kitty-presence in the house and has been asking me to relent. So far, the ban has remained in spite of the adorable pleas.
    Having this information can be helpful as we also enjoy watching birds at our numerous feeders, and a cat could doom that joy to the dustbin. Your post is good information to have in the continuing struggle.
    Thank you.

  • Peaches Shimmerdeep  On September 18, 2017 at 10:27 pm

    Never have liked cats. Maybe because I’m highly allergic. But there is the sneaky nature, the ability to jump up on the kitchen counters, and the laissez faire attitude. But Sable, now Sable looks like a kindred spirit. I would not object to nose and tongue. Enjoy! Dogs can win most people over.

    • foureyedcurmudgeon  On September 18, 2017 at 10:34 pm

      She is an interesting mix of qualities. She’s sweet, she’s gentle, she doesn’t chew things, she doesn’t poke her nose where it doesn’t belong, she obediently lets Mrs. Curmudgeon brush her teeth (a long story but the short version is that the vet says it’s necessary) but on the other hand she is totally unresponsive to any and all commands.

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