I wish to take great issue with the suggestion made by David Mowbray {"Whodunit? The Squirrels," letters, Sept. 9} that squirrels were responsible for the loss or destruction of 10,000 tomatoes at the Red Hill Farm and that this somehow justified setting loose Mr. Mowbray's cat so that it might prey on these delightful creatures.

A single "Eastern Grey" squirrel (Sciurus Carolinensis) consumes about 16 ounces of nuts and berries per week. Tomatoes are not part of its regular diet. Assuming an average tomato weight of eight ounces and further assuming that during the period in question the squirrels dined on nothing but Red Hill farm tomatoes (an unlikely proposition), 5,000 Eastern Greys would require one week's time to consume 10,000 tomatoes. Inasmuch as there are on average between four and eight Eastern Greys per acre of land, Mr. Mowbray's suggestion is untenable. Further, Eastern Greys are diurnal (i.e. active only during daylight hours) and, as far as I have been able to determine, do not carry flashlights. There is no basis for implying that they come as sneak thieves in the night. Mr. Mowbray's dislike for squirrels no more justifies his cat's predation on Eastern Greys than would a dog owner's dislike for cats justify similar predation on felines. Indeed, loose cats kill far more birds, ruin far more gardens and spread far more diseases to man than do Eastern Greys. Just as intense hunger might drive a pauper to steal bread for sustenance, so might intense hunger drive an Eastern Grey to occasional pilferage of Mr. Mowbray's allegedly "succulent, ripe, pesticide-free peaches." I venture that, in any case, the purloined peaches might not have been fit for humans.

My guess is that Mr. Mowbray harbors a deep-seated resentment of squirrels and that he is not adequately providing for their nourishment. I recommend that he restrain his cat and that he invest some money in cat food and peanuts.

JERRY SUSSMAN Alexandria