Cats. Prey Driven?

She's a cute little thing, and I'm told her name is, Mia. I often watch her from a distance as she slinks, low to the ground...bursting forward as her jaws snap tightly onto her prey.

I believe that Mia is the only 'out-door cat' in my neighborhood. She has a home; however, her owners prefer to let her out regularly. The rain, sleet and snow don't seem to keep her from hunting as I rarely see Mia without a small critter dangling from her mouth. I also believe that she has been spayed, as over the past 3 years I haven't spotted a kitten or a pregnant belly.

I am an 'animal-person,' and I do my best to advocate for all creatures, (snakes too!) Mother Nature is an incredible force and deserves a caring hand from us human types. I am in conflict over domestic animals doing their feral best to capture and kill our wildlife, however. And, I'm certainly not poking my finger at felines alone, as other carnivores may partake in this activity when let free.

Changing tracks a bit, so sorry...I found that 2 states, Illinois and Utah, as well as Washington D.C., have passed legislation that protects the stray cats living in colonies. Often these colonies are monitored by shelters or advocacy groups who trap, neuter or spay, and release them back to a given community. TNR programs are a way to calm the tide of kittens that may become only statistics at local pounds.

Holly Raschein, co-sponsor of the legislation representing Key Largo in the Florida Keys, said, "From a moral standpoint, rather than killing them, we could vaccinate them and put them back." Key Largo is among many cities hoping to add their name to the expanding list of TNR programs that are protected by law.

The Audubon Society, one group of several, opposes TNR trends because cats can kill birds. The Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service shared a study in January 2013, showing that cats kill approximately 2 billion birds annually, along with 20 billion small mammals.

We have TNR cats and we have Mia(s) who may scavenge for food. I will say that observing a cat doing an instinctual behavior is fascinating. Having said that, I must add that watching a bird or a field mouse doing their instinctual behaviors is as engrossing. Do we encourage our local TNR programs and then site the Mia-owners for allowing a pet animal off leash to roam, or vice-verse? Do we say, "Save the cats," or do we say, "Save the little guys?" Is there a method where both needs can be fairly addressed? Hmm?

“My mother and dad were big animal lovers, too. I just don't know how I would have lived without animals around me. I'm fascinated by them - both domestic pets and the wild community. They just are the most interesting things in the world to me, and it's made such a difference in my lifetime.” - Betty White

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