I should warn you that Iím about to reveal groundbreaking new conclusions from a recently released, high-profile scientific study.
Are you ready? Make sure youíre sitting down, ícause this is big.
OK, here it is: Cats kill birds.
No, no. Iíll give you time to digest that information. I know it can be mind-blowing to anyone who, say, has never owned a cat, or watched Sylvester and Tweetie go at it during a Looney Tunes cartoon, or has been living on a deserted, cat-free island for the entirety of their lives.
I imagine their next study will finally answer the burning and oft-asked question concerning where bears go to the bathroom.
But according to the research, those cute and furry felines apparently kill between 1.4 and 3.7 billion birds and 6.9-20.7 billion mammals every year in the continental United States.
Although the report placed most of the blame on feral and stray cats, its authors suggested pet cats played a role, too, prompting some folks to consider a ban on outdoor cats in their communities altogether.
Itís something Iíve thought about over the years as well, especially whenever Iíve had to buy a licence for my dog. Dog owners everywhere have to pay fees for the animal they ó if they are good, respectful owners ó keep on a leash and clean up after. Meanwhile, any yahoo can bring home a kitty, give him a cute name like Captain Fuzzypants, and set him loose upon the outdoor world to mass kill birds, little critters and poop in my flower bed.
Hey, donít get me wrong. I love cats and have owned a few in my lifetime. But thereís some neighbourhood tabby that habitually tears up my backyard garden every year that is really testing my love for animals. I wonder if thereís a study covering how many petunias cats kill every year in the continental U.S.? Maybe I should try and get a government grant to study the problem.
Itís unclear how to really take the results of the study, in my opinion anyway.
I mean, what would it be like if those between 1.4 and 3.7 billion birds and 6.9-20.7 billion mammals hadnít been eaten or offered up at our doorsteps by good íol Fuzzypants? Weíd be washing our cars a lot moreÖ for one thingÖ what with all those birds overhead.
In the end, and until such a thing as a ban is put in place, it really is up to each individual owner to decide if kittyís nocturnal hunting trips are a good thing, or if your furry friend needs to stay inside for his and other animalsí safety.
In the meantime, Iíll be keeping watch over my petunias with a squirt bottle.