Thank you all so very much for your kind words...
... regarding the loss of one of our backyard Chips to the cat next door yesterday afternoon.
As anyone who stops by my blog, even on a semi-regular basis, knows, I/we have a serious love affair with the little critters who grace our backyard with their presence.
All the birdbaths with fresh water...
... and all the peanuts & bird seed we set out...
... are meant as a thank you to these sweet little friends, because they truly do brighten our days.
All of the shrubs and flowers we plant are done with butterflies and birds in mind.
(The red lucifer crocosmia is a favorite of the hummingbirds!)
We've tried to create a little sanctuary where all of God's little creatures can visit on their way through, or even set up camp and make their homes here.
(Dad and Chip, 2010)
I know these are outside animals and not our pets, but I come from a long line of animal lovers...
(Me feeding Chip, Summer 2013)
... and the little Chips who live in our yard have wormed their way into our hearts big time.
(Hubby and Chip relaxing, Summer 2013)
They are gentle little things who love nothing more than to scamper about the yard looking for food. And they are more than happy to sit with us and enjoy the backyard when we bring the peanut basket outside.
Naturally, there is always the threat of predators. This spring, a hawk came out of nowhere and landed on one of our Chips. As the hawk flew away, I was amazed to see Chip peek out from under the stairs, right next to where the hawk attacked. He had apparently been close enough to the stairs to escape underneath.
Some of our Sammy squirrels and backyard birds have not been so lucky. I have been out in the yard and witnessed them being swooped down on and carried away by the hawks, who also visit our yard.
As sad as that is to see, it is nature's way. The hawk must kill and eat in order to live himself.
But that is not the case with what happened yesterday. The indoor/outdoor cat from next door did not need to kill the chipmunk in order to live himself. It was purely for the thrill of the hunt/kill. This is our Baby, one of our two cats. They are indoor kitties, for their own safety and for the well being of the creatures and birds who reside in our yard.
(Baby and Sammy Squirrel in the window feeder)
Baby would love nothing more than to get at one of the Chips, Sammy's or birds who visit our yard. It is, indeed, her instinct to hunt them down and kill them. Were she a stray cat, this instinct would be necessary for her survival, but as a house cat, it serves no purpose. She is a well fed and well tended to (dare I say even spoiled?) kitty, as is our older 20-year Tiger, whose 'thrill of the hunt' days have given way to wanting nothing more than a warm bed to nap on.
We have one neighbor who knows her cats like to be outside sometimes. She built a nice screened in area, enclosed on the sides and the top, so her cats can go outside for a while. She did that for her own cats' protection as well as the fact that she doesn't feel that her neighbors should have to put up with her cats wandering into their yards, doing their business in kids' sand boxes, spraying, or just being a general nuisance. I wish everyone felt like she does.
Where we live, there are laws that control dogs. They are not allowed to roam free. Dog owners are responsible for their dogs' whereabouts. They must be kept in their own homes/yards, or if out and about, they must be on a leash. I personally wish these laws pertained to cats as well.
And believe me, I am not trying to be the "cat" police. If people want to let their cats outside, there is no law that says they cannot. I must respect their right to do so, whether I agree or not. (I personally wouldn't want to take the chance of our our cats being hit by a car, stolen, eaten by a coyote, getting rabies, etc.)
But where it does become my business is that I feel that my very own yard should be "cat free" if that's what I want. And therein lies the problem. Even though we have a 6' stockade fence around our entire yard, cats have no problem scaling/jumping over the fence or climbing a tree to come into the yard. So I am at the mercy of the cat owners who choose to let their cats run free.
I know that many will disagree with me, but I feel that this little 1/3 acre of land that we own should be for our enjoyment (God knows we pay enough taxes on it). If I want to feed the birds and chipmunks and squirrels without them falling prey to a neighbor's well fed kitty, I feel I should be able to do so without worrying about somebody's cat hiding in the bushes next to a chipmunk hole, or laying in wait for the mourning doves to peck at the ground around a bird feeder, or for a robin to land on one of our many bird baths.
Anyhow, I guess I feel that Nature is part of the overall plan, the bigger picture, as hard as it is to watch sometimes. But a fat and sassy, well fed neighborhood cat, that's another story.
Another thing that makes this subject touchy is that I LIKE these particular neighbors. They are GOOD people. We are so blessed to have them next door to us. This is our only issue. We have talked to them about it, they know how we feel, and they say they will try to keep their kitty inside, but with little ones opening the door constantly and a kitty who just loves to get outside, they say there's just not much that they can do about the situation.
So in the end, I can only hope and pray that their cat stops coming into our yard. It's ironic, there were two cats down the street that used to constantly be in our yard, for the very same reason (the wildlife). As they have gotten older, they've taken to staying closer to their own home. I thought we were finally going to have a respite from the neighborhood cats... until Mr. M came along (not using his real name to protect his true identity :)