Saturday, 28 April 2012

Cats are sociopaths!

Psychopaths in the garden It's almost like admitting publicly that you are a paedophile. But I'll admit it anyway: I hate cats! Cats are the world's greatest and most cunning opportunists. They are, in their essence, wild animals that have opted to accept human propinquity because it guarantees ready meals and a dry bed for the night. Cats are unlike any other domestic pet; they cannot be properly tamed or confined, so are free to wander anywhere they want, including into my garden. If my neighbours or even their dogs were continually trespassing on my property I could undertake measures to stop them, even resorting to the courts if necessary. But with cats I have no redress whatsoever - they are a law unto themselves. They can come and go as they please, bury their faeces in my vegetable patch, sunbathe on my patio and hide under the hedge, waiting to pounce on any bird foolhardy enough to hop within range of their vicious claws. In the UK we have 10.3 million cats - that's one for every six people! Just imagine the mountains of food and the tonnage of cans needed to package it. Our supermarkets dedicate metres of shelving to satisfy feline taste buds; cats are offered almost as much choice of food as we humans. Then there are the vet bills, the expensive catteries to park these creatures when their owners go on holiday. This is a multi-million pound industry supporting a vast army of killing machines – a feline-industrial-complex so to speak. Cats are serial killers and they are allowed to murder with impunity. The most recent figures from a British Mammal Society report (2012), estimates that the UK's cats catch up to 275 million prey items per year, of which 55 million are birds. This is the number of prey items that were known to have been caught; we don't know how many more the cats caught, but didn't bring home, or how many escaped injured and subsequently died. On a world scale the figures are even more mind-numbing. Jonathan Franzen in his novel Freedom also lays it on the line about cats through the words of the environmental activist Lalitha: ‘Kitty cats,’ she said. "C-A-T-S. Everybody loves their kitty cat and lets it run around outside. It's just one cat - how many birds can it kill? Well, every year in the U.S. one billion song birds are murdered by domestic and feral cats. It's one of the leading causes of songbird decline in North America. But no one gives a shit because they love their own individual kitty cat.’ I like most animals, but particularly birds. I relish their songs in spring, their animated activity in the nesting season; I like watching them bathe in the water bath and grub for worms on the lawn. But the omnipresence of my neighbours' cats means that their numbers are rapidly reduced and they are driven from my garden. It's even worse in the breeding season when the young hatch, as they have no experience of the wicked wide world outside the nest and no previous contact with those louring beasts of the urban killing fields. Last week a pigeon was pounced on as he strutted calmly around my lawn; only a pile of feathers drifting in the breeze was left behind as evidence. My neighbour’s children told me how their cat brings home dead frogs on a regular basis – culled from around my pond! Cats don't need to catch other animals for food; they do so merely out of instinct. Whereas most town dogs have had their hunter instinct largely bred out of them or can be suitably controlled by their owners, cats are averse to training of any kind. The enormous wastage in terms of the lives of birds and other small animals, due entirely to cats, is mind-boggling. The cat population, I would argue, needs to be seriously reduced if we are to save the remnants of our wildlife. We cull pigeons, foxes and other pests, so why not cats too? Cat-owners should be obliged to make their cats wear bells on their collars or contraptions to prevent their killing. Because they are always well nourished, cats can spend hours simply lounging, grooming themselves, just waiting for any bird, frog or mouse to appear within their vision, before pouncing, just for the sheer hell of it. In conclusion, I can find no better words than those of Franzen’s protagonist in Freedom: ‘Walter never had liked cats They’d seemed to him the sociopaths of the pet world, a species domesticated as an evil necessary for the control of rodents and subsequently fetishized the way unhappy countries fetishize their militaries...’ END 735 words John Green

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