In defense of cats being outdoors

Published: 12/1/2019 8:17:34 AM

As a student of environmental science, I agree with Mr. Connell [George Connell: “Please keep cats indoors”] that the decline in native bird populations is heartbreaking. I disagree that keeping cats indoors is a viable and just solution. I claim this because bird population decline cannot be pinned solely on cat-related deaths, and cats deserve to explore the outdoors.

As Mr. Connell acknowledges in his letter, loss of habitat and pesticide/herbicide-use are two major causes of bird population decline. Cats kill birds one-by-one on a small scale, pesticides and herbicides impact the soil health of ecosystems, the mesofauna of ecosystems, the insects, the plants, and the birds.

Bird population decline finds its cause in a series of other ecological disturbances. Keeping cats indoors only addresses things on one-level, whereas banning pesticides and herbicides addresses many layers of the problem.

I agree with Mr. Connelly’s sentiment that cat-owners are responsible for their cats, and they ought to keep them healthy and happy. However, Mr. Connell mistakenly assumes that simply because cats are not at risk of predation and automobile-related injury/death, that they are happier at home. The outside world is full of adventure, and cats can be miserable if they are trapped inside of the same house all day, everyday.

Mr. Connell may argue his point that his cats have always remained indoors and they have lived happy lives, but we cannot generalize this experience to all cats based on his anecdotal evidence alone. Keeping cats indoors will do so little to improve bird population numbers that it is useless, moreover, it will negatively impact cat well-being, and there are much more effective methods of improving bird population abundance and health.

Lauren McGue

Northampton




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