Cat-owners should give birds a chance

THROUGHOUT spring and summer I have delighted in feeding wild parent birds and their offspring in my garden. For bird-lovers everywhere, it is a thrilling experience to help support parent birds rear their young, watch them thrive and transform into sturd

THROUGHOUT spring and summer I have delighted in feeding wild parent birds and their offspring in my garden.

For bird-lovers everywhere, it is a thrilling experience to help support parent birds rear their young, watch them thrive and transform into sturdy juveniles, then to adulthood, especially when garden birds have been in decline over the last decades. This is because of the use of garden chemicals and slug poisons, hedgerows and trees making way for bricks and mortar, and now concrete and wood-decked gardens.

We must all be aware that wild birds are an essential component of the ecosystem, which is in a state of fragility.

Wild garden birds live life on the edge, using their wits to get through one day's survival. They have to contend with the threat of predation, in the most part from the millions of felines in the country who stalk the streets from dawn to dusk looking to satisfy ancestral behavioural traits, although not every cat responds to his or her ancestral instincts or is left to prey on fledglings and parent birds.

It is such a needless, cruel death when taken in vain but, understandably, not so for the countless numbers of abandoned cats also living life on the edge; trying to survive hunger in a feral environment. These feral cats are victims of human indifference, irresponsibility, cruelty and ignorance.

There is a neutered alpha tomcat in my vicinity that not only terrorises the sedate feline residents but is responsible for killing many of this year's fledglings and adult birds.

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My husband and I once caught him red-handed making off with a fledgling. We chased him until he released the bird, which thankfully flew from his jaws. This cat prowls the neighbourhood for over 12 hours every day. His owner explained that on three attempts to make him wear a collar and bell (which acts as a pre-warning to birds) he protested to the point of trapping his jaw in it, resulting each time in veterinary intervention.

I have uprooted a couple of bushes in order to give the birds a clear view and placed cage-wire on the outside of a very large bush - the cat's former hide-out - that divides my neighbouring path. I have recently purchased an RSPB-recommended cat deterrent sonar system. Wild garden birds face many adversities: I am doing my best to protect them responsibly.

I ask all cat owners to be responsible and give wild birds a chance: fit your cat with a cat safety collar with a good sized bell. If you do this as early as possible, then a collar is better accepted. Have your cat neutered to avoid perpetuating the crisis over-population of unwanted felines, which in turn leads to their suffering and increases wild bird predation.

Neutering, and hence population control, also helps reduce the burden on animal rescue shelters. Microchip your cat. Don't let your cat roam for unlimited hours and keep your cat in overnight. Keep your cat safe and help the wild bird population and other wildlife.

J HAMILTON

Flint Way

Eynesbury

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