January 10, 2014

Courtland Milloy’s Jan. 1 Metro column, “This tabby could teach dogs a thing or two,” started well with the adoption of a stray cat but then delivered the wrong message about cat ownership. Milloy noted that the cat captured the family’s love but added that they “let the cat come indoors, then go back out as she pleased.” He said that, “Outdoors, she behaves like a tiger. . . . She is, quite frankly, awesome — except for the times when she brings her kill home to show off and play with.”

This perpetuates the notion that it is natural and normal to allow cats to hunt outdoors. Yes, the Milloy cat behaves like a tiger: Cats, both domestic and strays, are particularly devastating to native birds and mammals, killing an average of 2.4 billion birds and 12.3 billion mammals a year. In fact, cats are one of the single greatest human-linked threats to wildlife in the nation.

Granted, many cats are feral, and there are mixed arguments about how to address that population. But pet owners should not add to the problem by allowing their cats to prowl around neighborhoods to prey on wildlife. Cats also face dangers: cars, dogs, coyotes and even licking antifreeze and sewer sludge.

Fortunately, Milloy’s cat can learn to enjoy life as an indoor-only pet. I love cats and have converted outdoor felines to be happy inside dwellers. And the birds and other wildlife are luckier for it.

Kasha Helget, Alexandria

The writer is a member of the Arlington Regional Master Naturalists.

In his Jan. 1 Metro column, Courtland Milloy mentioned that his son gave a stray cat a bowl of milk. Other than kittens, cats cannot properly digest milk. It makes them sick.

Peter Miller, Martinsburg, W.Va.

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