by Chris Bodenner
A reader writes:
Since getting a cat, Carina, with a remarkable resemblance to Tibs (from the video you of my apartment, and since I signed a form from the shelter that I would keep her an indoor cat, I opted for a leash. I have become the crazy lady who takes her cat out on a leash two to three times a day at half hour intervals. We explore the backyard, the perimeter of the house, she sniffs and swats at bugs, she yearns to climb trees and has attempted the occasional fence. Oh and she loves to eat grass! The neighbor's cat, who is allowed to run free, gets into cat fights and has depleted the local bunny population by at least three, by my neighbor's account (I no longer see bunnies eating clover in the yard next door, so it is likely more) and earlier this week Carina and I spied a fly-invested bird carcass in the backyard. My kitty longs for this sort of blood sport, too. I see it in her soft yellow-green eyes, especially at twilight, the witching hour, when they turn red and black and she wants to lurch at my ankles. Then we play chase the furry ball that looks like a small rodent.
One solution I was told, was if your cat wears or tolerates a collar, put a bell on it. It will warn potential prey of the cat's movements.
That seems like a dubious solution:
A fact sheet put out by the Mammal Society but unfortunately no longer available on their website showed that putting bells on cats does not limit their hunting ability, in fact belled cats in one particular study caught more wildlife than their unbelled equivalents. Some reasons given were that belled cats learn to move even more stealthily, the bells are not loud enough to alert wildlife of danger anyway, and inertia holds the clanger stationary and therefore silent when the cat makes the final attacking leap. At least two other studies have highlighted that the belling of cats has no effect on number of birds caught. "The efficiency of fitting cats with bells is contentious. Barrette (1998), found that belling of cats has no significant effect on the amount of prey caught."
Other possible solutions:
Wildlife experts have told cat owners they need to regularly change their cat's bell to stay one step ahead of their pet. They are also calling for owners to give their cats garishly coloured collars and to install sonic devices in their gardens to scare their pets indoors.
More tips here.
(Photo by Matt Bodenner)