I lost a pet this morning. Well, maybe not a pet exactly, but a member of our household. One of the swallows who nests under our eaves was murdered, almost in front of my eyes. I'm done crying now (or maybe not as my eyes moisten) and I just feel numb.
Let me tell you how it happened. It's recycling day, and I was out on the driveway with the paper recycling and my neighbor girl walked by on her way to school. Since she dogsits for us on a regular basis, and I need a sitter next week, we started talking. As our conversation finished, I noticed her family's cat stalking off my driveway back to it's yard...with my swallow in its teeth. The other neighborhood swallows were whirling around in the air, and as they settled back onto their respective rooftops, I saw that all of the roofs had a pair, and ours now only has one swallow. I approached the cat in its yard, thinking, hoping that the bird was only injured and I might be able to save it. But I saw that the bird was not moving, and that it's head was inside the cat's jaws.
I'm tearing up again as I write. This is not the first felony committed by this cat, but it certainly the most audacious. Only last weekend my husband had to remove a cat-mauled bluejay from our backyard, and our other neighbors have a small graveyard for the birds their grandson has found dead in their yard (and yet they've just bought chickens, how daring). And I knew that the swallow chicks, that are soon going to be hatching, will have a low survival rate as they take their first flight out of the nest, and into the jaws of the waiting felines. But to see this bird killed, unapologetically, in front of my eyes...it's atrocious.
And now I am left with a dilemma. As many of you know, I'm not a friend of in-town outdoor cats. Indoor cats are fine, in fact, I've loved several of them. And I can see that barn cats have their place. But a cat that lives in town and is a "pet" merely by virtue that someone gave it a name and collar and it shows up every couple of days to be fed and maybe to lounge on a front step, this is not a pet by my definition. If that cat is a pet, then my swallow was a pet. We grew gardens to nurture insects for swallow food, and there are special horizontal boards nailed to our eaves to provide nesting perches (right in front of our picture window). So why is their cat allowed to murder our bird?
But how do I solve this? How do I approach the neighbors (who we like and who we depend on for dog-sitting) and say, "You have to do something about your cat. Keep it indoors, or ..."? And this cat is not the only one in the neighborhood (maybe just the most obnoxious). There are at least 3 cats on our block, and at least three houses that are opposed to them (us, the chicken owners, and one house down). Not only do the cats kill birds, but they defecate in our gardens, torment the dog, and, while lying in the street, refuse to move for oncoming vehicles. My husband has suggested live-trapping them and taking them to the humane society, but this seems like a sureway to create bad blood. So I think we will talk to the owners of the killer cat, but I'll bet that this ends our dog-sitting relationship and leads to some angry feelings. Does any one have any other suggestions?