The central question in a cat’s life is: inside or outside? She spends large parts of her existence in front of the front door, sometimes indoors, sometimes outside, and she can’t decide where she wants to go. Perhaps the cat is stuck in a logical loop and is thinking about the philosophical concept of freedom in the sense of Martin Heidegger: “In existence, fear reveals one’s ability to be, that is, to be free to choose oneself.” Or perhaps it only has skin.
Cat lovers claim that this fuzzy behavior is an expression of intelligence and independence. On the other hand, dog lovers say cats are too arrogant to obey simple commands like “come” and “come out.” You can tell the cat “Stay!” and “Foot!” Scream, but don’t expect her to care about what you want her to do. On the contrary, she will most likely show you the bird – and then do what suits her feline purposes.
Speaking of birds: The best canned and dry foods for cats are served by their staff, but they still can’t stop hunting. According to the Nature Conservation Union, rough estimates assume that 14 million domestic cats in Germany are responsible for killing 200 million birds annually. This is especially dramatic when bird species are threatened with extinction. For example, the crowned lark, whose population in Europe is seriously endangered. This inconspicuous little bird is a ground nest. When young birds hatch, they are easy prey.
In Walldorf in the Rhein-Neckar region, a strict measure has been taken in favor of threatened birds: a curfew for cats. Das Landratsamt hat angeordnet, dass diese von April bis August nicht durch das Brutgebiet der Haubenlerchen südlich des Ortes streifen dürfen – es sei denn, sie werden an die kurze Leine genommen oder naht bechwegensörchen ger den Berz weren wernic Deutsch ability. The authority punishes violations with a fine of 500 euros.
Cat closure, which is unique in Germany, raises not only practical problems (should the cotton flaps be closed?) but also ethical questions. What is more important, the protection of endangered birds or the freedom of cats? Two cat owners from Walldorf filed an objection to the house arrest of the domestic tiger – with success. The district office examined two applications and granted waivers. Cat owners are now allowed to leave their pets outdoors again if they put electronic cuffs on them. Each release must be monitored with the help of a GPS tracker, and the data is sent weekly to the Lower Nature Conservancy.
The county office has announced that the regulation applies to 2022 and can be rescinded at any time. So longtime animal lovers have extended their paws. The German Animal Welfare Association criticizes the measure as disproportionate and not in line with animal welfare, and the ban on cats also lacks any scientific basis, the association explained in a legal opinion. The negative impact of cats on songbird populations is controversial, and it is not even known how many crowned larks are currently in Walldorf. On the other hand, construction projects have been approved there in potential areas of the crowned lark – in any case, urban sprawl is also responsible for the decline in the number of birds nesting on the ground.
Already, 43 appeals have been lodged against the GPS cat monitoring order. The owners of the animals claim that the animals behaved abnormally because they were deprived of liberty and that they were restless, especially at night. Critics of cats may object that even during the day, cats’ behavior is quite inconsistent and difficult to control. But that’s probably largely due to people’s attitudes, an Oregon State University researcher found. According to behaviorist Kristin Vitale, cats’ boisterous behavior is not only in their nature. According to the study, animals only reflect the social behavior of humans.