My heart stopped when I walked into the bathroom at 4.30 in the morning and saw a large rat at my feet. The rat was frozen, as I was, and seemed to be weighing up the option of running up my leg before it darted down a hole in the corner, which had been exposed when the builders removed the shower tray, as part of our building works after the fire. Later that morning the rat man came to put down poison and the builders blocked up the hole. This unnerving experience made me sympathetic to the girls’ entreaties for us to get a cat to replace the unfortunate Pepper. Their pleas were given weight by Jennifer Dyer’s claim in the Times that her 2-year-old black and white moggy has brought her no fewer than 5 rats during 2012. She had also brought 2 bats, a grey squirrel and 122 small rodents (mice, bank voles and shrews). Creatures such as this do quite a lot of damage in my garden, as well as scaring the living daylights out of me. But what Mrs Dyer doesn’t mention is that cats have a liking for birds as well as mammals, and the chances are that her moggy caught as many small birds as she did mammals. Not such a good idea, unless you do what the Victorians used to, which is to tether them in the kitchen garden as a deterrent.
There are 8 million cats in Britain and if each of them had an equivalent haul to Mrs Dyer’s moggy, that would result in an overall kill of 1,040,000,000 (yes, more than a billion). I’ve no doubt at all that they kill an equivalent number of birds. Someone had better tell the RSPCA.
That Cuddly Kitty Is Deadlier Than You Think
I was amused to see this headline in the New York Times today, provoked by a report from the Smithsonian institute that cats in America kill 2.4 billion birds and 12.1 billion mammals every year. Perhaps my estimate of a billion in the UK is on the low side after all. See here for a link to the report.