Every once in a while, a topic comes up that is so polarizing, such a detriment to our Constitutional Rights, or such a threat to the Town budget that it elicits hundreds of heated exchanges on The Patch for poor Andy to proofread. Recently one has come up, that I feel it deserves it’s own place on The Patch, so I thought I’d get the old hair ball rolling and create this blog about cats. But not just about cats and how they meow and purr, or what they do when we’re asleep, but specifically how we care for cats and by extension, what we feel our responsibilities are as pet owners for our pets and our community.
In full disclosure, I’m not a “cat person.” I’m more of a “dog person,” but this can include everyone, equestrians and goat herders, snake charmers and bird watchers alike. What I’d like to discuss is what people think about pet owners who allow their cats to wander about unsupervised, basically, open the screen door and “there ya go Fluffy, have a nice day. See you when you get back tonight” kind of people. And maybe you’re that type of pet owner?
Before you chime in, I’d like you to consider some information I garnered from several sources including the MSPCA, ASPCA, Angel Memorial, amongst others:
Did you know that outdoor cats live less than indoor cats? That letting your cat wander around is actually bad for it’s health? In fact it can cut your cat’s lifespan almost 70%.
I’m sure you knew your cat was a great hunter. They probably left you many a “gift” at your doorstep, but did you ever consider that this is detrimental to the environment? For every mouse or chipmunk Felix tears to shreds, that’s an owl, a hawk, a fox that doesn’t have a meal. Too many Felines roaming the neighborhood and that’s a lot of hungry wildlife.
Even though your little Whiskers is a great hunter, while out, he is also on the menu. Coyotes, fox, even hawks can kill your pet and since Westford is replete with acres of conservation land we have everything from bears to beaver out there, so there’s a risk they could be on the menu.
Then of course there are the dangers of being hit by a car, but even worse, say a driver swerves to avoid your cat and causes an accident?
Then there is the matter of worrying about your neighborhood standing. Your neighbors may not appreciate your cat roaming through their yard. Not everyone is a pet lover so as a good neighbor maybe keeping your pets contained may prevent any built up animosity? What’s that old saying…”Fences make the best neighbors?”
Finally, one has to weigh how a break down in civility can cause a lack of freedom. I don’t know if the rest of you can remember this, but I can remember back when you could pull into a gas station, fill up, and then after filling up, go inside and pay the attendant what you pumped. But then people began driving off and stealing the gas, so now all of us have to prepay at the pump or in the booth. Government is no different. If there’s a problem, the government tries to solve for it and usually when the government comes to solve for something it’s never for free and it usually ends up limiting our freedom.