Loving both cats and birds can be a delicate balancing act

Posted 12 April 2017 at 10:02 pm


In case you didn’t realize it, Orleans County has a cat problem one might expect in an area with a high poverty rate.

One of our “country neighbors” inherited a cat rescue “business” from the previous owner of her house. At one point, we counted 33 cats in the yard outside her front door.  It wouldn’t surprise me if there were more.  Needless to say, the “business” isn’t too profitable.

People like our “country neighbor” are good hearted and do what they can. Over the past several years we have even had numerous cats “gifted” to us. Our “benefactor” usually drops virile males at our place. The last one was an orange tiger with a worm problem. His initial vet bill was $270. At least five others were less costly.

But what harm could come from a few stray cats?

Anyone vaguely aware of how blessed Orleans County is with birds likely knows. Cats are particularly attracted to birds that spend a lot of time on the ground, or that nest within six feet of the ground. That includes about thirty different types of native sparrows, as well as bluebirds, tree swallows and chickadees using boxes and innumerable other birds. Bird baths can have a big downside when cats are loose.

What can be done?  Loving both cats and birds can be a delicate balancing act. Spaying and neutering are a must, even though kittens are cute. If you have bluebirds nesting in a box within six feet of the ground, consider fencing off the area immediately around it. Keeping cats inside as much as possible during nesting would help.

It would be great if our State and County leaders would recognize such realities and act to address the problem.  Why not require cats be licensed like dogs? Charge a token amount for spayed/neutered animals and, say, five times as much for those allowed to reproduce? Doing so might set an example for others.

The bottom line is that good outcomes often come at a cost. As someone who pays a lot of attention to birds, I can assure the reader that failure to adequately address Orleans County’s cat population comes at a considerable cost.

Sincerely yours,

Gary Kent