To the Editor: Cats 

To the Editor: 

I love cats. When I was a boy in the 1950s, we cared for half a dozen barn cats on our family farm and I squirted milk into their open mouths straight from the cow. The SPCA of Hancock County’s care of rescued cats from Georgia (Feb. 25) is admirable. But consider this: 

In 1947, when the invention of kitty litter made keeping cats indoors feasible odor-wise (their urine is noxious), there were an estimated four million housecats in this country. In 1985, the year cats passed dogs as America’s favorite pet, there were 48 million. Today, there are an estimated 95 million keep cats and, researchers believe, the same number of feral cats (they are as easy to throw away as last year’s fashion accessories). That is a total of 190 million of this invasive midsized North African predator on the landscape at any one time – more than all the cattle, hogs, sheep, goats and horses COMBINED. 

Cats allowed to roam outdoors prey on all sorts of small animals and birds, which drive bird lovers to distraction. Cats hunt with their ears. They have some 20 muscles in their external ears, which can swivel independently of one another. As I reported in my book, Nature Wars, Herbert L. Stoddard published in 1931 a landmark treatise on bobwhite quail in the Red Hills of George and Florida. Because bobwhites lay eggs in ground nests, predators, including opossums, armadillos and raccoons, feast on those eggs. But not cats. Instead, cats wait until they hear baby chicks pecking out of their shells and then arrived to devour them at first chirp. 

We can only hope that Hancock’s new Georgia cats are keep happy, healthy and indoors. 

Jim Sterba  

Northeast Harbor  

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