By - Wayne Linklater 05/03/2014


On our way down to the local corner store for the Saturday morning paper my 5- and 1-year-old daughters and I meet a feline ritual.

At the front gate of a home half-way down, every day without fail stands a generously fed black moggy with white socks and nose, long hair, and an inviting purr. She sits reliably waiting for us – and many others I suspect – to walk by and give her a scratch and a pat. My daughters lavish her with love.

well fed cat with starling

This morning we met her as usual at her gate. She meowed and AJ, my daughter, played with her tail and the cat rubbed her arm in purrrrrfect happiness.

I wondered, while waiting for the mutual love-fest to be over, how often a fat, well-fed cat kills. Perhaps hardly ever? That has been the argument of some. Owned, well fed cats are not the problem* But then, even where that is true, in a community where cats or cat ownership are unregulated, not all cats are well-fed, many stray, and so the cat problem is perpetual.

We left my thoughts and the cat at the gate, retrieved our newspaper, and just this morning a special treat – a small bag of lollies. With our gums and minds engaged with the delights of coconut ice, we passed our favourite cat’s gate again.

AJ yelled ‘Daddy!’ – a cry of amazement and upset together.

I turned to see my daughters’ favourite, fat, well-fed cat walking towards us with large bird in its mouth. But reluctant to bring it to us, the cat instead would place and chase the injured bird around the lawn.

Repeatedly the bird would try to escape and the cat pounce, carry, place, walk away, turn and wait to pounce again.

It was a starling – an introduced, exotic bird species the cat had caught. Starlings are not a conservation concern. But it was not possible for me to be unconcerned about the welfare of that startling.
It is disturbing to me that some can claim the mantle of caring about the rights and welfare of their cats but not the animals they kill. The inconsistency, hypocrisy, is because the cat-only lover is an egoist – ultimately selfishly caring only about the animals that they have a relationship with.

well fed cat looking over starling

The starling died – eventually giving up the desire to escape, and then the will to go on.

Fat, well-fed cats can also be killers in our neighbourhoods. Having a well-fed fat cat is not a guarantee that they do not kill. And they do it for pleasure.

 

*Actually, the evidence suggests differently. Mine and my daughters’ experience is just an anecdote but records by cat-owners of prey their cats bring to them indicate that even some well-fed cats kill [1].

1. Gillies, C. & Clout, M. The prey of domestic cats (Felis catus) in two suburbs of Auckland City, New Zealand. Journal of Zoology (Lond.) 259, 309-315 (2003).