All animals, pets or wildlife, share the same basic needs for food, water, and shelter.
Wild animals, including birds, are able to meet their own needs within their natural habitat. Physical and behavioural characteristics developed over thousands of years (adaptations) enable wildlife to successfully locate water sources, find or build shelter, defend against predators and forage for food. Our obligation to them is to avoid interfering with them and their habitat as much as possible (which is not to say we’re necessarily doing a very good job).
Feeding wildlife is often illegal and rightly so – animals can become acclimated to people, increasingly less afraid, leading to conflicts. (Bird feeding is generally exempted, although there are those that argue that it too is an issue.) Keeping a wild animal captive is illegal under both federal and provincial laws, unless you’re a licensed wildlife rehabilitator.
The opposite is true with pets – Canada’s Animal Cruelty laws oblige pet owners to provide the necessities of life for animals in their care. Pets are supposed to have their needs met by humans – we feed them, give them somewhere cozy to sleep, take them to the vet. By taking them into our homes as pets, we assume responsibility for their health and well-being. We assume responsibility for them (which is not to say we’re necessarily doing a very good job.)
And just as with dog ownership, our responsibilities to pets and wildlife apply when our cats are out in the world. They could be hunting birds. Or they could be hunted by a coyote.
Help your cat (or dog!) by keeping it safe from wildlife. Help wildlife by keeping it safe from your cat (or dog!). Keep Pets Safe & Save Wild Lives!