Black-and-White Warbler, Dennis W. Donohue/Shutterstock
News and Perspectives on Bird Conservation
A Change of Heart: Stories of Responsible Cat Care
By ABC StaffJune 22, 2018
Responsible Cat Care
"I did not always feel strongly about keeping cats indoors. Growing up in suburban Ohio with my pet cat, Tigger, the idea of keeping cats indoors, in an enclosure, or on a leash was completely foreign. It took a number of experiences and many years to change my mind. And now, I know that cats like Tigger can be happy and healthy while kept safely contained.
Pet cat on a leash. Photo by SvetMedvedeva / Shutterstock
Like me, many others are coming to that same realization. Read ahead for moving, first-hand accounts from cat owners about their journeys toward responsible pet ownership."
– Grant Sizemore, Director of Invasive Species Programs
Happy Indoor Companions
Jesper sleeps on an enclosed porch. Photo by Nora Hanke
"My pets have been kept indoors for a number of years, since I didn't want to lose another cat to a coyote or a neighbor's car, and I didn't want one of my cats to maim or kill one more bird. In my experience, cats accustomed to outdoor privileges can be perfectly happy indoors.
I've made sure there are several places in my home where my cats can comfortably look outside on an interesting scene, preferably with a nice garden view. I also find engaging toys that my cats enjoy.
Because I love birds and other wildlife, it is a relief to know that I am doing my part to keep my indoor companions content and healthy inside."
– Nora Hanke, Greenfield, Massachusetts
One Lucky Cat
"Lucky showed up in our yard when she was five weeks old, and we took her in. Even though she lives indoors, Lucky spends lots of time safely contained outdoors.
"…she is a regular at a number of restaurants we frequent."
When we walk our dogs, Lucky comes along in a backpack. On Sundays, Lucky and I grab a grocery cart and go window-shopping.
Lucky in a backpack. Photo by Maria Araujo
Lucky seated at a restaurant. Photo by Maria Araujo
Lucky enjoying the fresh breeze while safely contained. Photo by Maria Araujo
Housed in her travel crate, she is also a regular at a number of restaurants we frequent. Most people seem surprised, so we explain her “indoors only” situation and why we believe this is important for her well-being.
Even if cats didn't kill birds, my cat would remain indoors for humane reasons."
– Maria Araujo, Austin, Texas
Learning from Experience
"With a biologist's interest in nature, I was fascinated at the variety of wildlife my cats brought into the house, which ranged from MacGillivray's Warbler to more common victims like American Robins, juncos, and hummingbirds.
Birds like MacGillivray's Warbler are impacted by cats. Photo by Ted Ardley
Eventually, after I learned what a devastating toll roaming cats have on wildlife, I realized I was personally contributing to an enormous problem.
"One of my luckiest cats survived a gunshot wound…"
I also learned by experience the hazards that cats face by being allowed to roam at will. A car killed one cat and coyotes took another. One of my luckiest cats survived a gunshot wound that shattered her shoulder blade.
A couple of cats and many wild critters would have lived longer had it not taken me so many years to learn that cats belong indoors!"
– Carlyn Jervis, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Inspired by these awesome cat guardians? Take the pledge and join this community of caring cat owners to keep both cats and wildlife safe.