The avondklok may be coming to an end next week, but now there is a call to curb the other dreaded c-word that is terrorising Dutch streets — cats!
It’s springtime, and you know what that means? Breeding season is upon us! Lots of little chicks and baby birds are waddling around. Unfortunately, many of these birds won’t be able to spread their wings for the first time as they are killed prematurely by domestic cats.
To some of us, cats are fine furry friends, keeping us company and providing much-needed cuddles in lockdown. However, the local wildlife will tell you a very different tale. To winged creatures, cats are fearless fury frights, killing up to 18 million birds a year in the Netherlands.
An end to nighttime killings
To try and put an end to this killing spree, experts are calling for a cat curfew. Ecologist Diny Tubbing told RTL Nieuws that “as humans, we can take this into account by keeping the cats indoors at night.” She agrees that cats shouldn’t be kept permanently under lock and key. However, she does suggest that keeping them inside at night will be beneficial to the Dutch bird community.
During the day, birds have a better chance against the frightful felines. Titus Sijmonsma of the Federation of Frisian Bird Guards (BFVW) tells RTL Nieuws that “during the day, birds hear and see a cat approaching. They give a signal or fly away.” However, he says that at night birds are more vulnerable to cat attacks in the dark while they are asleep.
What can I do as a cat owner?
Turns out, you can’t teach an old cat new tricks. Don’t try and un-train your kitty from being a natural born killer (even if it is a cute one at that). So what can cat owners do to help protect Dutch wildlife?
Firstly, if you’re presented with a bird on your doorstep, check to see if it’s still alive. It might be in shock, so keep it in a warm and safe place. Scheurkogel says to call an animal ambulance if you think it might still be alive.
Tubbing has some fun advice to try and stop cats from wanting to hunt in the first place. Play with them more! (no, seriously). Tubbing says that cats playing with a ball or a toy mouse can satisfy the hunting instinct, and tire them out.
TIP: Help out the birdies by fitting your cat with a bell on its collar. If your cat is a bit more feral and resists a collar, you can also hide its food in different places so it has to “hunt” for it’s kibble.
Do you think a kitty curfew would help out the local wildlife? Let us know what you think in the comments!
Feature Image: Leon Seibert/Unsplash