Ministry Of Controversy

OG Mag on Wildlife-Friendly Gardens: What’s Wrong with this Picture?

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As a big fan of Organic Gardening Magazine, I take no pleasure in expressing my shock surprise at seeing this photo illustrating an otherwise wonderful article about growing wildlife-friendly gardens.  The caption on the right says “Orange Boy watches wildlife from the front porch.”

I don’t imagine he just watches.

Do we need to repost links to research demonstrating the harm done to wildlife by outdoor cats?

Posted by

Susan Harris
on May 7, 2013 at 4:08 pm, in the category Everybody’s a Critic, Ministry of Controversy.


  1. Well, Susan: actually, that cat did stay inside or come out to sit on the porch. Anne is especially sensitive about the cat issue. She did not even want this picture to run, except the elderly, feeble cat died soon after this photograph.

  2. I am an older student, but many of the “outdoor cats” I have had were loves that couldn’t catch much of anything to eat outside of a mouse or mole now and then.

  3. I must respectfully disagree. My two (elderly) cats are my beloved garden companions; they are well fed and lazy as hell-they have no interest in the birds that visit the two feeders in my garden. But most important to me is living in a seamless indoor/outdoor space. I live in Northern California, and the idea of having closed doors in spring/summer/fall is not an option. My house is open allowing me to move in and out as I wish. Confining Ted and Doobie would require a significant lifestyle change. I can’t imagine any of us being cooped up in the house behind closed doors-screened or otherwise.

  4. i have indoor cats and outdoor cats. The outdoor girls are well fed to the point that they lay on the picnic table and watch the starlings and bluejays eat the extra cat food and don’t care. However they are excellent at controlling the mole,vole and chipmunk population which is quite a chore as i am surrounded by wild wooded areas so just being outdoor DOES NOT mean bird killer. If they are starving they will eat whatever they can. MY girls aren’t in that group, have been neutered and upto date with rabies shots.

  5. This is a valid concern. They did a count in England one year of the “kills” each housecat on the island made. Every rodent, bird, snake, whatever “the cat dragged in.” The death toll of birds alone was in the MILLIONS. While I had a cat who did not hunt, our neighbor’s cat has killed everything he can, for years – including bats (which are also beneficial) and two of our children’s pet rabbits! (Ironically, this cat belongs to vegetarians.)

  6. I despise it when an all-or-nothing approach is attached to any problem and this one, especially, gets my hackles up. We mustn’t generalize between neutered well-fed pets that are supervised in their backyards and feral cat populations in environmentally fragile locations. I have seen the studies where cats are decimating wildlife on islands where flightless birds have not evolved to avoid predators and that is a sad situation.

  7. Amen.
    i bugs the heck out of me when “data” is overused/abused to the point of generating misinformation. i live/garden next door to 4 outdoor cats and i have 4 bird feeding stations. not one song-bird fatality at the paws of a cat in the past 15 years.

  8. I don’t know why we can include one animal (birds) and exclude another (cats) as wildlife. I feel to keep a cat inside is no different than keeping a lion in a cage. they cannot be the way they were made to be and this makes them unhappy. I have had both strictly indoor cats and outdoor cats and they behave very differently. It is sad to me that we cannot let them be who they were meant to be. Let alone they help control bird populations. It is like wildlife discrimination.

  9. I’m curious as to why people think a cat is the most environmentally conscious choice for rodent control when there are breeds of dog specifically bred for rodent control that can be fenced in and not wander the neighborhood? Sure the dogs require some actual work on the owners behalf in order to learn their job, so maybe cats are the laziest somewhat environmentally conscious but not really method of rodent control.

  10. Susan – Yes you will probably need to bring the facts out for the benefit of enlightening all the cat lovers who have sprang to the defense of outdoor cats (feral and domestic). All these well fed cats who control rats, mice and voles – also are the same well fed cats that take out 1.4 to 3.7 billion birds a year in the US. I have a dog and I must license him and keep confined or on a leash. I think it is just wrong for folks to enjoy the freedom to let these little killers loose to roam. Beware Susan – the National Audubon Society (yes bird lovers) canned for an issue one of their Audubon magazine writers because he dared to bring up the roaming cat problems.

  11. I am truly surprised at the number of indoor cats there are in the States. All those moggies staring forlornly out into the world from which they are excluded so they don’t get squished by SUVs or turn into some wild raptors dinner.

  12. There are many “well-fed” cats in my neighborhood who come to my yard to prey on the birds in my garden. It’s not always about hunger – more often it’s instinct. As for keeping out the rats, mice, moles, & voles? Get a terrier. They have no interest in birds. Indeed, the very name tells you that they are interested in terrestrial creatures. My Border Terrier has never killed a bird, but has kept my lot vermin-free since we got her.

  13. I don’t want a terrier, thank you very much. Gee, does no one at all care about the moles? Who will be their advocate?
    Yes, the cats have instincts as do the terriers. They will kill some things. They’ve been doing it long before the the coining of “organic” anything. And you know what? I’m pretty sure we still have birds.
    Personally, I’ve never seen a dead bird since we got our cats, although I don’t doubt that they’d be happy to get one. They’re neutered, well-fed, up-to-date on shots, and they earn their keep! Go cats!

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