Laura Erickson's For the Birds

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Natural born killer

Originally uploaded by Laura Erickson
This beautiful cat is a natural born killer, but as a domesticated animal it is decidedly NOT a natural predator. What natural predator would kill two shrews just for fun, leaving the carcasses when the tiny mammals stopped "playing" along?

This morning when I was walking Photon we came upon the first dead shrew and I wondered what had killed it. Shrews apparently taste horrible, and normal predators, after tasting one, stop wasting time with them. The question was answered when we came upon this cat with the second shrew in its mouth. When it saw Photon, it dropped the shrew and skulked into the woods, too late for the little mammal. I could tell exactly where the cat was in the understory by following the sounds of the many anxious parent birds giving alarm calls.

Shrew #1 killed by cat
Shrew #2 killed by cat

There are so many nestlings and flightless fledglings right now--I get a stomachache every time I see a cat slinking about outdoors. Someone recently asked me whether their cat was in danger from Barn Owls that were calling and seeming to "scold" the cat every night. I feel so angry when people pretend their cat is a natural predator but don't want to subject it to the same harsh realities that genuinely natural predators face. And in the case of the Barn Owls--they're hardly big enough to mess with most cats. That group was clearly a family with probably more than one owlet. Their chicks were far more at danger from the cat than the cat was from the owls.

I love cats. But they belong indoors. Period.