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September 12, 2019
By Anne Tieber, Curator of Birds
The newly formed SLCBC (St. Louis Cats & Birds Coalition) is a group of St. Louis metro area non-profit pet rescue and environmental conservation organizations whose shared goal is to maximize the health and happiness of the cats we love and protect the wildlife we value.
While we are still developing our mission and vision statements, our hope is to create more awareness about the hazards that pet cats face when left outside and how cat owners can keep their cats safe and healthy by keeping them indoors. Some of these hazards include getting hit by cars, being attacked by other cats, dogs, raccoons or coyotes, exposure to diseases such as rabies, feline leukemia or distemper and even being exposed to cruel people who want to hurt them.
Why is the Saint Louis Zoo involved?
The Saint Louis Zoo is a leader in conservation collaborations and we are working together with other organizations such as St. Louis Audubon, World Bird Sanctuary, Animal House rescue and Wild Bird Rehabilitation to name a few to spread our message. This not only helps cats but also helps our local native wildlife as it is estimated that in the US, free roaming cats kill billions of birds, small mammals and reptiles every year.
What Can You do?
Keep pet cats safe by keeping them indoors
- Provide your cat a stimulating and enriching environment inside by providing window shelves for them to watch the outdoors.
- Play with your cat each day, they like and need exercise. Paper bags, boxes and tissue paper are great, easy and inexpensive ideas that can provide endless hours of entertainment, in addition to the wide array of cat toys and puzzle feeders available
- Only allow your cats out onto a screened in porch or consider building a “Catio” so that they can enjoy the outdoors safely. Consider taking them out for a walk on a leash.
- Spend time with your cat. They can make great lap companions while watching television
- Take unwanted cats to a shelter to give them the best chance of adoption.
The loggerhead shrike is one of the many wildlife species that has benefitted from research and conservation by AZA zoos and aquariums. Photo courtesy of The Nature Conservancy of Canada.
The “catio” at the Brevard Zoo showcases how cats can access the outdoors without access to wild birds. Photo courtesy of the Brevard Zoo.