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Cat killing birds? Put a bib on it

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You can buy the small size of cat bib at Amazon.com or either size at Cat Goods Inc. Size depends on a cat’s hunting agility, not the size of the cat. I couldn’t find a Canadian supplier.

That poor, embarrassed cat!

I’ve recommended the cat bib to a lot of people and common responses include: “That poor cat!" "It’s in her nature to hunt";  "That’s so unfair"; and "How embarrassing for her!”

I share the commitment to a high quality of life for my beloved pet. But I haven't seen any basis for these concerns during the three years of putting a bib on our cat. 

First, I haven’t observed any decrease in my cat’s quality of life. I know she’d rather not wear it because sometimes she dodges her head when I put it on. Once its on, she trots around like it’s not a problem. She climbs fences and trees. She eats, drinks and lounges. She licks the bib clean. She purrs and eats spiders. If the bib was a form of cruelty, she wouldn’t seem so normal all the time.

It could be far, far worse. 

Second, it’s in her nature to hunt, but it’s also in the nature of the North American wild bird population to nest in places where members this large population of non-native subsidized predators can reach them. Wild bird populations are in trouble. Cat populations are not. 

Third, cats don't seem to think about fairness, or at least mine doesn’t. If she did, she’d probably have to conclude that she receives daily food and affection with very little expectation regarding her contributions to the household. The least she can do is wear a bib so the rest of us can continue to enjoy the wild birds in the neighbourhood.

Finally, nothing in Tootsie’s behaviour suggests embarrassment. I don't think that emotions are unique to humans. Such reasoning can justify cruelty.

But I don’t assume that animals have the same emotional responses as humans, or each other, because different species evolved to different circumstances. I just haven’t seen my cat slink away, put her head down in shame or do that overly-dignified act while wearing the collar. If I were wearing a big neoprene collar, yes, I might find that embarrassing. But there’s no reason to project that on to her. My kitty evolved with different prompts for survival than I did and embarrassment over a cat bib doesn’t appear in her evolutionary repertoire.

Nope, not embarrassed. It's just warmer back there. 

Even if all those objections rang true for me, I’d still put a bib on Tootsie. I consider it a small price to pay for protection of the chickadees, juncos and crows that I see in my neighbourhood. I don’t get to cuddle birds (although I have a few good crow stories) and they don’t purr while lying on my chest, so my attachment to them has less emotion than my relationship to Tootsie. Nor do I don’t see their value in monetary terms, although some do.

For me, birds display the astounding results of 65 millions of years of evolution. They are beautiful, interesting to watch and have a right to live close to the circumstances in which they evolved without being hunted by non-native predators, especially when it’s so easy to put a bib on a cat.

Finally, if you think your cat looks funny in a bib, have a laugh! People love looking at funny cats! As long as you are laughing at cats, don’t you think my cat Tootsie looks like the feline YouTube diva Maru? Nothing embarrasses her.

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