I lived next door to a cat, you know, the kind that feeds and maintains dozens of wild or semi-wild kittens. Being a tiny cat myself (the kind that likes to share a home with maybe a couple), I didn’t mind at all. During my days at work at home, I could always count on a sleek tabby cat or a royal calico lurking in my yard, until God knows what. A stream ran through my neighborhood and many neighbors attributed its proximity to a profusion of rats. Musophobic confirmed, I’ve never seen a single one, probably thanks to this bunch of felines. As the rodent horror stories mounted on Nextdoor, I began to think of these prowling predators as my bodyguards.
Sunday brought news of a different and less socially beneficial sort of “animal custodian” – someone with a thing for caged birds. Detroit Free-Press has the sordid details:
The son of an animal collector dropped off nearly 500 parakeets at a southeast Michigan rescue shelter shortly before Christmas and plans to return later with at least 50 other birds.
Kelley LeBonty, director of the Detroit Animal Welfare Group, which operates a shelter on a 25-acre farm in Macomb County, Bruce Township, said in an interview on Saturday that the son called to say he was coming to give up 60 to 80 parakeets that were at his father’s house.
But when the son arrived at the shelter late Thursday night, he actually had 497 parakeets in his pickup.
The hapless parakeets arrived crammed into just seven cages, or even 71 per container, which is obviously far too many birds per square inch. Such a configuration would be a monstrosity; seven is unspeakable. The takeaway is don’t be an animal collector. It’s not fair to you – imagine the stench in the collector’s house – it’s not fair to the parent who will inevitably have to step in, it’s not fair to the overwhelmed hideaway that will handle the mess, and most importantly it sucks for all those abused birds.
The director of the shelter, Kelley LeBonty, explained what had happened. “His son said he just wanted to breed a few, and it got out of hand,” LeBonty said. “The problem is that birds breed easily. And then you just have more babies and more babies and more babies if you don’t get it under control.
It pains me to say this, but — speaking of birds — the same advice applies to my old neighbor Cat Person. To concentrate so many cats in one place, and to let them live outside, is to declare war on the wild birds, which already have enough problems. I’ve never seen my neighbor’s charges successfully capture a bird, but I’ve often seen them flog lizards, a group of creatures that also come under great pressure. All things in moderation, including pets.