Tony Duckett, conservation officer for the royal parks, believes that cats pose a more significant threat to birds than firearms. He made the comments in response to a campaign that wants to ban shooting licences used to kill birds. Speaking to the Telegraph, Mr Duckett said:
Cats on lockdown
"These so-called pets shouldn't be allowed to roam freely, killing birds or just putting them off...It's so wrong. The law again fails to defend the homeowner. As well as killing millions of birds they have brought the Scottish Wildcat to the edge of extinction."
Cats kill up to 27 million birds a year. However, despite the considerable number, there's no definitive evidence that cats are causing an overall decline in the bird population. As the RSPB point outs, the bird species which have seen the biggest fall in numbers (skylarks, tree sparrows and corn buntings) rarely come into contact with our cats.
And although some kitties are content with the life of a housecat, the vast majority are independent creatures with a natural desire to roam and explore. Keeping cats cooped in the house is likely to have a negative impact on their mental and physical health. As a spokesperson for the Battersea Rescue Centre explained:
"Outdoor access provides great opportunities to display natural, normal feline behaviours including roaming and hunting to help stimulate and engage cats and support their emotional and physical wellbeing.”
Owners must still take some responsibility
So while I'm sure Mr Duckett meant well, it seems like he's missed the point on this one.
However, owners do have a duty to be responsible for their pets. You can help protect the local wildlife by fitting a bell onto your cat's collar or purchasing a colourful collar that reduces their chances of catching birds.