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The Hunter [publisher's letter]

Publisher Tracy Patterson with her dog sitting in the desert resting up from a hike

Tracy Patterson

The pet article on page 30 in this month’s edition comes as no surprise to me, as my youth seemed like a never-ending task of trying to rescue birds and other creatures from our cats. And we had a lot of cats over the years, all of which were rescues. Some showed up on our doorstep and never left, some were rescued from not-so-great situations, and one mother cat and her kittens were found in the field at the end of our block in a cage.

The cats on our street were all indoor-outdoor cats, and they were definitely all hunters even though they were well fed. Our cats often didn’t actually eat their prey—more like they just terrorized their victims and then killed them and left them as “presents” for us. Mice, gophers and an array of poor birds came to a grizzled end in the claws of our beloved felines; and in some ways, since we didn’t always see them in action, I don’t think we really believed that they’d done these awful deeds.

Of course, I was always much happier when I was able to do a rescue mission. For example, I was in the basement one day and felt as though I was being watched. I was being watched, by a bird sitting on our toolbox, brought in by one of our cats, but not harmed (yet). I managed to get him out, and he flew off—one saved!

Then there were the many, many waxwing birds that would arrive every winter to eat the berries on the tree right outside our dining room window. Invariably, two or three birds would hit the window during this time, and if I heard the “thud,” I would go tearing outside to collect the bird before one of our cats got there, and believe me, they were never far behind.

Any bird that I was able to rescue was placed in an orange box that I kept in the garage specifically for this purpose. The birds were typically just stunned and needed some time in a quiet, dark place so they could recover and fly off once I could see that they were ready.

Since cats are one generation from being wild, it stands to reason that their hunting instincts are fine-tuned. It also seems in some ways a rather cruel endeavor to keep them indoors 24/7. I haven’t had cats for years now, but I can imagine it’s a rather controversial point in neighborhoods. I have feelings on both sides; however, with the number of domestic (and feral) cats today, the research showing the impact of cats on bird populations, and my love for wild birds, I would definitely lean toward the indoor-outdoor patio option, plus getting kitty used to a harness for “walks” and perhaps car rides and traveling for some variety.