Monday 30 September 2013


one of the hardest things about this move
was knowing that molly would have to become
an indoor cat

something which in principle I'm against

cats should be free to roam,
explore, pounce, run, hide, smell,
bring home earthworms in the middle of the night

we had a family lined up who were willing to take her
if she didn't adapt to her new life
on the forth floor

we are very happy to see
that she's adapting brilliantly
it means that we all have to play with her even more than before
but that's no hardship

we've made little 'preys' of bunched up pipe cleaners
which we toss and she chases
and brings back to us
or deposits in her food bowl

she watches pigeons from the windows
chuntering at them with a trembling jaw
and twitching whiskers

she seems content, happy even
and so are we


  1. I was wondering about Molly. It's great to hear that she is adapting well to her new situation. The attachment to family is so important to most pets.
    Years ago when we lived in a flat we had a cat (a rescue case and a bit mad) who literally climbed the walls, then when we moved to house with a garden he left home to live with a neighbour. I guess he just didn't like us!

    Enjoy your week,

    1. Some cats seem to adapt well to being indoors, and others not.
      Your cat went to the neighbours!? Cheeky, fickle beasts, they can be. I also had a cat up and leave like that. I'd found it as a stray who'd been hit by a car, had him operated on, and then after almost a year he went and ran off. At least I liked to tell myself that he'd found another family, rather than another car.

  2. Molly is a lucky cat. It's great to see it's going well, the flat looks lovely.

    1. We're all settling in better than could be expected, Jane!

  3. Well, I'm glad that Molly - and you - are settling in to your new home.

    Although, I have to admit, that the garden wildlife at your previous residence will probably feel a little safer going about its daily business without a lethal predator lurking in the shadows!

    1. I can completely understand that the ornithologist in you probably doesn't like the idea of cats roaming the neighbourhood...I've recently read articles talking of the toll that domestic cats have on the bird and rodent population. I used not to believe it - having had either useless or secretive hunters for pets in the past. But, it looks like there's no getting away from the fact that domestic cats are a bit of a bane. It's - for me at least - a difficult issue. (I must first say that I am an animal person - I've always had a deep interest in and respect for all animals, regardless of their place in the 'human ratings.') Please bear with me while I think this though.

      On the one hand, cats aren't strictly native here (let's call 'here' the UK and Continental Europe for argument sake.) For centuries, they were used as 'pest control'. I've read that the slaughter of cats in the middle ages (for superstitious reasons) contributed in parts of Europe to to an increase in cases of the Bubonic Plague, and food poisoning from rat droppings in grain stores.

      Today, apart from barn cats who do help keep rodents out of the feed and seed, we don't have that same need for cats to wander outside.

      But, what to do, then? We've had them with us for centuries and to suddenly prevent them from being in their habitat seems unfair. But what of the birds and mice and voles and, in Molly's case, earthworms?

      Austin, as always, you've given me something to think further about. Thank you!

    2. pardon the typos above!

  4. I was intentionally avoiding this debate out of respect for your relationship with your furry little friend - who is now, after all, contentedly contained.

    However, as you bring it up...

    As you rightly point out, domestic cats - because they roam, hunt and breed indiscriminately, have a cumulatively devastating effect on our native wildlife. And you are right to acknowledge that they are not native, but were introduced as pest control. As with many such early 'biological experiments' the result was, of course, rather more far reaching than the original, narrow intentions behind them. Namely, that cats made no distinction between the unwanted rats and any other species: they killed in an uncontrolled and unnecessary way.

    Another difficulty is that a domestic cat, separated from its natural parents and habitat (separated from that by 12,000 years of history), raised by doting humans, is effectively subjected to arrested psychological and behavioural development. So, we train them to remain kittens. For that reason they continue the slaughter as play, unmotivated by hunger and discarding the sorry little corpses of finches, warblers, voles and so on as soon as their struggles are over and they are no longer much fun.

    It isn't their fault, of course. They are the result of years of anthropocentric genetic experimentation. Molly is innocent!

    However, what can be done seems to me very clear. First of all, some legislative regulation requiring that all domestic cats are neutered without exception. In the first stages, a limited number of licenses could be issued to registered breeders and strict limits placed on the number of cats that could be produced. As with a dog, a license would be required to own one.

    If it was possible to bring the cat population down to a degree where its impact on wildlife was sustainable then all well and good. If not, retract breeding licenses and let them die out.

    No individual cat would be harmed that way.

    Those are my honest thoughts on the matter.

    Rather as individual humans we can be lovely but as a rampantly uncontrolled species we are having a hugely destructive impact on the biosphere, so it is with cats.

    With humans, I favour a range of policies to reduce the growth of populations - all of which in the human case are based on education, cultural changes and universal, free family planning.

    With cats, that's not an option. It seems to me that we have created this problem and we can't really shirk the responsibility of solving it.

    I hope this isn't too controversial!

    Kindest regards to you AND Molly,


  5. Certainly not too controversial, Austin!

    I fully agree that one of the problems - both for the animals who make up cats' prey, and for cats themselves - is uncontrolled breeding. Before Molly was allowed outside, we had her spayed, as I've done with each cat I've had in the past. I'm a firm believer in that.

    This is not to say that I agree with letting them die out. Perish the thought! While it's true that they are not indigenous here, neither are we. And yes, the parallel can be made with humans and the many cases of horrific displacement and genocide that we've inflicted on our own kind and of course the constant daily destruction of the biosphere.

    However, it could be that if - as you suggested - stricter controls were put on the neutering of cats, that we could achieve some sort of balance. That cats could be part of the biosphere and the damage they inflict, while not prevented, would be less than it currently is.

    I do wonder how much damage is being caused by strays vs. outdoor house cats? That's something I'd want to look up.

    Perhaps the damage is due to the sheer numbers of domestic cats around. Over the past many thousands of years, they have quite effectively stalked their way into our hearts and homes and imaginations and mythologies. It's hard to imagine a world without cats - and they are now found in practically every inhabitable part of the world. Where there are humans, there are cats. I don't think we can - or should - undo that.

    So I guess it comes down to damage control. Minimizing the harm caused by them and, as you say, they are completely innocent. They are just doing what they do. What they've been doing for thousands of years.

    One thing I'm wondering is that birds and rodents have natural predators which they've developed instincts to protect themselves from. Do you happen to know - or is it known - how they have adapted over the centuries and millennia - to cats? I understand that most cats hunt for sport and not of necessity, but from their prey's perspective, how have they dealt with this newer threat? This is something I'd never really thought about before.

    You're right that it's humans who have to take responsibility for the issue - for the sake of all the animals involved. Cat licenses is certainly a possibility. It seems to work for dogs. Registered breeders is more difficult. I'd be afraid that you'd end up with nothing but cultivated Siamese or Persians.

    More to think on!

    Best regards from both me and Molly.

  6. Love this photo of Molly! She looks snug as a bug on a rug....or something like that. lol. Lots of conversation going on here...but mostly I am interested in seeing life through your eyes, when I come to your blog. A few days ago, Tom and I, thought that Ginger (our ferret) was dying, turned out that she was just dead asleep. lol. It is our fur-babies that help us to connect in love and with love. Hooray for our animal companions!

    1. What a scare you had with Ginger! Glad to hear she was just sleeping. Our fur-babies connecting us in love and with love - that is beautiful, Jan, and so true.

  7. glad that Molly is settling into her indoor life, what a pretty cat

    1. She's doing really well. I'll pass along the compliment!

  8. As far as I'm aware, the birds, small mammals, amphibians and reptiles routinely slaughtered by domestic cats haven't yet developed any new mechanisms of defence - at least not sufficient to redress the balance.

    I think that you are right - that essentially it is a question of numbers. The most recent figures from the Mammal Society estimate that the UK's cats catch up to 275 million prey items a year, of which 55 million are birds. And those are only mortalities that we know of. There must be many more that are never counted. Current figures for the number of domestic cats registered with vets in the UK alone is close to 9 million. Add in the strays and the unregistered cats and the number must be astronomical. (Figures from The Mammal Society and the PFMA).

    However, I would agree with you that taking everyone's needs and concerns into account, the first step should be to attempt to control and manage the cat population to establish a figure which has a sustainable impact on populations of wildlife.

    At the same time, we have to keep the issue in perspective. It has been argued that a significant proportion of kills made by cats are likely to be animals and birds that were already old, weak or injured and therefore unlikely to make it through to the next breeding season - although I am not aware of any research that supports that idea. If the cats are largely taking out birds that would have died anyway before breeding then from a conservation point of view, the impact on the long-term ecology would be much reduced.

    We should also remain aware that far and away the greatest threats to wildlife locally and globally are industrialised agrochemicals and farming methods, habitat reduction/destruction and systematic pollution of fundamental food and water resources.

    Until sufficient numbers of us learn to reduce the energy we consume, to forego our selfish 'conveniences' and live a more simple, less harmful life based on love and respect for Nature and the future of our children, rather than short-term pleasure-gains and endless consumption, we may as well let the cats just join in.



  9. You're absolutely right, Austin. We continue to be the biggest, bone-headed threat to the planet. The numbers of people willing to make the sorts of changes needed to allow for a harmonious habitation, are larger than I sometimes think possible. Part of me is optimistic, and all the more so when I see people - many of them encouragingly young - actively trying to live in a way that's respectful of Nature; but then when I see the rampant and truly wanton disrespect and's difficult not to let the pessimist in me rise up. But, since I am by nature a 'guarded optimist', I have to keep believing that it's possible. Somehow. I just try to do my best in how I live, how I raise my boys, and by keeping as strong and respectful and reverent a connection to Nature as I can.
    Best wishes,

  10. Absolutely.

    personally, to avoid being tossed and turned endlessly on the stormy waves of optimism and pessimism, I try to simply keep myself informed of the latest scientific research, actively campaign and downscale my own lifestyle and energy consumption. I also get my 'news' from a variety of sources - there is lots of good news - really, lots - but you won't get it through the mainstream media.

    Thanks for the conversation. Go well!

    xx A.

  11. I know how you feel about cats running free outside... but we moved to a cliff overlooking water and eagles fly around and above we have kept our cat inside too. Sometimes she watches out the window at squirrels and birds with her tail swishing and throat moaning... but most of the time she seems quite content.

    1. Hi, Donna. I'm certainly happy to have learned that cats can live very good lives as indoor cats, which I have seen before, it's just that I've also seen some that went neurotic and were obviously not happy. Molly and your cat are luckily in the first category. And they are so good at adapting. There's a wonderful zen-like quality to them. They are good little teachers.
      By the way, it sounds just gorgeous where you live! (And I can understand your concern for your cat.) Water and Eagles...The West coast is a magical place.