What should I do about my bird killing cat?


You clearly care about your cat. I say: Why not keep it? PETA, for its part, says that “cats can live happy lives indoors.” You have doubts about how she (and you) will fare if she is kept in the house. So explore the options available to you. You can make him do less damage indoors by using scrapers, keeping his claws clipped, and through various forms of training. If you want her to spend time outside, you can try getting her used to a harness and see if you can train her to walk on a leash. If you have the space, you can create a closed “catio”. And if you feel like you have to let her out on her own, you can at least outfit her with something like a neoprene CatBib or a Birdsbesafe collar-shaped collar, devices that seem to reduce bird predation; a bell can also help. There are many threats to the bird population, including habitat loss linked to poor land management, industrial agriculture and, of course, climate change. Preventing our cuddly carnivores from wandering outside is only part of the solution, but it is in our lap.

During a visit to my hometown, a disturbing scene between a relative’s husband and their very young daughter repeatedly unfolded before my eyes. The girl had a mild cold and didn’t want to take the over-the-counter medicine her father was trying to give her, so he laid her down on the kitchen counter (in front of the whole family) and started stuffing the medicine into mouth using an oral syringe. The child was clearly in distress and tried to push her father away, who did not relax until she took the medicine. Another parent offered to take the child upstairs to calm her down so that she could take the medicine. The child’s mother replied abruptly, “He’s taking care of it.” This same scene happened again a few hours later.

I had never seen anything like it in my family and I was completely shocked. My other parent told me that the father verbally intimidates his daughter when she refuses to eat her meals, urging her to eat, after which the helpless child sometimes vomits. Food left over from dinner regularly appears in her lunch the next day and is apparently not eaten.

During that same visit, the child’s father shared with our family members some examples of aggressive parenting he endured from his own parents, and it is clear that he is passing on this legacy. More worryingly, the mother of the child, who did not grow up in an aggressive home, agrees. There are other examples of what they may consider “tough love” that I have heard of that demonstrate a lack of empathy and sensitivity, and that seem unnecessary and just plain mean.

I am deeply concerned for the welfare of the child, who is a smart and gentle little girl. I discussed this with the other parent whose advice and offers of help are summarily rejected. Should I build on and discuss my relationship with the mother, with whom I am very close? It is wrong to do and not say anything. Name withheld


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