Palm - In defence of cats
I love my cats. They are wonderful, affectionate creatures. I would be lost without them. I genuinely believe that anyone left unmoved by cats is missing something in their soul.
I also understand that cats are predatory hunters. It is their instinct and purpose. They can’t help it. If they see something move that is smaller than them, they will jump on it.
I value most life, though I do have issues with wild rats and cockroaches. I certainly believe that birds, especially vulnerable native species, have a right to exist.
I like to cuddle my cats. They also enjoy it and respond accordingly. There is a lot to be said for snuggling up close to a warm, furry body. They comfort me when I am feeling lonely or depressed. I have never met a bird that enjoyed being cuddled, or would respond in kind. Birds can be very intelligent and entertaining, but they are not capable of providing that kind of love.
Cats do not belong in New Zealand, but neither do sheep or people. We have changed this place by coming here. Cats are part of the new reality we have created. Do they have any less right to be here than disappearing native wildlife? Can the right of one to exist be protected without sacrificing the other?
I do not think the issue should have to be a choice between one or the other. Each has something of great value to give. If there is a problem with cats, it is that irresponsible cretins dump them in the countryside to breed and fend for themselves. Animal species all over the world suffer from human avarice and stupidity. The slaughter of feral cats is not an answer. It is just another example of hammers seeing all problems as nails.
Cats do not just kill birds. As it happens, most of the birds my cats account for are blackbirds, neither native nor endangered, but most of their kills are mice and cockroaches. Yes, I have discovered that cats are brilliant at keeping down cockroaches in the house. Living in the countryside, we have always had terrible problems with these insects coming in from outside, especially with the firewood. Highly toxic poisons provide only brief respite, at who knows what cost to the environment. Since I adopted five feral cats and brought them indoors, the cockroach count has dropped to almost zero! Cats are wonderful in so many ways.
We cannot keep them indoors all the time, though. Cats born in the city can spend their lives quite happily in a room. Cats who have tasted freedom cannot. Locking them inside would be crueller than executing them. So we let them run free. They tend to stay near the house and often choose to come inside at night. They enjoy the warm fire. I have noticed that there have been no bunnies (another pest species) in the area for a very long time, though.
Are cats heroes or villains? A bit of both, I would have to say. They bring a lot of destruction to a lot of prey. They also bring a lot of joy to a lot of people. For the sake of their victims, they probably do need to be controlled in some way. For the sake of those who love them, I can only hope the response is controlled, humane and reasonable (for a change).