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A Non-Frivolous Cat (and Bird) Post

- December 16, 2007

Recently a friend who is an avid birder and who knows me to be a confirmed ailurophile alerted me to what proved to be a fascinating (and long!) New York Times Magazine article (link here) by Bruce Barcott about “the most notorious cat killer in America.”

Cats, being cats, prey on birds. Birds, being birds, do a pretty good job of dying on their own, and an even better job when predators of various sorts, including little Fluffy the House Cat or her feral cousins, are on hand to hasten their demise.

None of that is exactly news, so the conversation could end with a few offhand remarks about the balance of nature and the vicissitudes of birdly existence — except that certain species of birds, including some that cats find particularly yummy, are endangered. That being the case, the moral and policy dimensions of bird-killing cats become much more complicated. What especially impresses me about Barcott’s piece is that my birder friend came away from it with a heightened appreciation of the cats’ side of things, and I developed a new empathy with the avian perspective, as manifested in the actions of the notorious cat killer.

This article is a “good read,” and some of the thoughts it provokes are likely to stay with you long after you’ve read it.

(Tip of the hat to Jim Todd.)

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