Predators are relatively rare in a natural landscape, limited by, among other things, the availability of food.
Domestic cats … and dogs, as well, are maintained at artificially high densities because of supplementary feeding. But if they wander at large they do hunt and they do spread alarm amongst prey species. All in addition to the natural and feral predators already present in the environment.
The Shire of Yarra Ranges spreads from the outer eastern suburbs of Melbourne, Victoria eastwards into the foothills of the Great Divide. It includes some great forest habitat which is home to the iconic Regent Lyrebird and some less well-known beauties such as the Pilotbird and Olive Whistler, all three of these and many other bird species feed on the ground. The shire council have just proclaimed a 24 hour cat curfew. If you want a cat you must keep it in.
My attitude towards cats is very much like my attitude to the French. As a group they are detestable but as you get to know them you find some individuals are OK, really.
The cat owners are up in arms and are shouting about lack of consultation and demanding the law be repealed. Not one of them has a cat that ever killed anything and of course they all wear bells, the cats that is.
My attitude to cat owners is very much like my attitude to the French, except when you get to know them only a small minority turn out to OK. I have yet to meet a cat owner who consulted me before allowing their cat to piss in my yard or terrorise my budgerigar.
My congratulations to the Shire of Yarra Ranges. To the cat owners let me say that it is entirely possible to keep a happy cat indoors, you just need some imagination …