Letter: Please put bells on your cats’ necks

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I prudently take steps to protect my garden birds from neighbourhood cats. Why won’t cat owners reciprocate?

What are we supposed to do with these uninvited guests to our gardens, who show no respect but foul our flower beds, kill our beloved birds that we spend hundreds of pounds feeding, not to mention massacring our struggling frog population, and generally make a nuisance of themselves. The cat population has doubled since 1975, and a survey by The Mammal Society in 2001 found that UK’s 9-10 million free-roaming domestic and feral cats killed around 55 million birds annually. Meanwhile, more recent research by the University of Reading suggests that the death toll could be as high as 100 million birds, representing around half of the number of young birds fledged each year.

And then there are the millions of mammals, reptiles and amphibians also killed, not to mention the fouling of neighbouring gardens, children’s sand pits etc. with all the attendant health risks. Set against the relentless decline of much of our native wildlife, as catalogued in last year’s multi-agency ‘The State of Nature’ report, the need for cat owners to take responsibility for their pets is long overdue. Failing that, the government should legislate. Those who share my concerns should look at www.songbird-survival.org.uk, and consider joining up as members.

Cat owners, please keep your pets in at night, and put bells round their necks so that it is slightly fairer game for our bird population. And please consider not increasing the local population by adding to or replacing existing pets.

Joanna Burrows

Brooke Road,