As the evenings draw to an early close and frosty leaves on the ground show undoubtedly that winter is imminent, in my house the other sign winter is coming is the gradual earlier and earlier call for dinner time. During the summer months, she will look for food around 6 pm but as the winter months creep in it eventually starting as early as 3.30 pm. Every time someone steps into the kitchen she will let out a pitiful ‘meow’ as if to beg to be fed. The more she is ignored, the increased desperation until she eventually decides that the only way she will be fed is by pawing open the cat food cupboard to help herself.
Despite the bungee cord holding the door closed, the mauled empty packets are left in the sink, but I guess I should be grateful nothing is harmed in the process. Nevertheless, in the summer the situation is very different. Taking advantage of the birds that are hiding in the low branches of the hedge, I never imagined when we planted it that it would be the perfect hunting ground. Failing this, the chicken coop is a haven for rats and mice looking for an easy meal not realising there is a big predator ready to pounce.
The life cycle of animals is simple and despite thousands of years domesticated mostly bred and nurtured by humans feeding them processed food of all sorts of exotic flavours, the majority of house cats will still fancy testing their skills on a poor unsuspecting creature. If your lucky (debatable) the poor creature will have minor injuries and escape the clutches of those claws. Unlucky and the remains will be brought into the house as a present with a proud purr and headbutt as if looking for a reward for her hunting skills.
Undeniably the worst situation is to see her playing with her catch proudly like she has regressed to be a kitten again. This lazy cat that barely moves from the bed to the cat flap, who won’t even put a paw outside if it’s raining but instead uses the litter tray inside. Yet now she is prancing around the garden like she is in a ballet production without the grace.
The act of playing with their pray is more of that natural instinct, but the chase is more interesting than the kill. Possibly not knowing how to deliver the final blow given that they had no mother to show them the skills they would have used hundreds of years ago it’s a vicious cycle and deeply distressing to watch (and clean up).
If the cat appears to lose interest, don’t be fooled! It’s just a test to ensure the animal is worn out and not going to fight back. I am a fan of my cats wearing collars with bells to try and prevent that awful situation. About 50 collars later and I have given up with baby boy as he clearly doesn’t want the collar. My only assumption is that he waits until he is out of sight of the house and uses his paw to unclip it.
In the last year, we have adopted a Quaker parrot called Oliver. Initially, the fear was that Oliver was going to become a tasty snack within a few days and there was defiantly a lot of stalking episodes to suss him out, however, a few pecks on the nose by Oliver’s very sharp beak and he has ensured his place in the house. It has also reduced the number of gifts brought back to the house am I am convinced due to the fear that all birds will peck their noses!
Therefore, perhaps the answer to protecting the natural wildlife from our fluffy turned killer felines is to lock the cat inside, buy a collar with a loud bell, or adopt a parrot!