Letter: Don’t use cats as garden patrols

Graphic by Lori Deaton

Thanks to Chloe Lieberman for her article about making the best of summer squash in the bioregion and for taking up the challenge of voles in the garden [“Gardening with Xpress: Tips for Growing Squash,” June 27]. But cats are not the answer, not in the long run, if we are trying to regenerate what we can after the ecological crises we’ve already caused.

My chicken wire garden fence was built with the bottoms dug 6 inches down and another 6 inches out into the landscape, which has been pretty effective at keeping voles (and rabbits) from eating my favorite green things. Sometimes a part of a fence has to be repaired (no fun) because voles are tricky and, over time, can find ways in. I started growing lettuce in raised beds or pots on my deck for that reason. However, the idea of cats being the solution for voles in the garden disregards the decimation they cause, not just on local bird populations, but on the many creepers and crawlers, like salamanders and lizards, that are essential benefactors of healthy soil.

People love cats; we sure do. But we should basically keep our cats inside. OK, yes, a cat for a barn is kind of a necessity. But one cat per barn is not what roams our streets at night. Cats are personal pets; their insider role in history and mythology goes haywire when they’re turned into backyard stalkers. That’s terrible. We don’t let dogs do that (the way we used to).

Let’s wake up and use our technological savvy to build vole-proof garden enclosures and spare the ones who can’t defend themselves against feline encroachment. There are also colorful collars made for cats that must be outdoors, by the way, which can alert birds of the cat’s presence but, sadly, does nothing to help the beings who can’t leave the ground.

I hope people can eventually realize this problem and reach for more environmentally responsible solutions than the simple one folks keep falling back on: meow, meow! Doubt me? Do the research. Here are a few links: [avl.mx/bva], [avl.mx/bvb] and [avl.mx/bvc].

— Arjuna da Silva
Black Mountain


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5 thoughts on “Letter: Don’t use cats as garden patrols

  1. Shultz!

    I’m currently in R&D working on miniature vole-activated landmines. Kidding of course. Sorta. I’ve had great luck with castor oil, soap & water in a gallon sprayer though. For whatever reason, they don’t like it & as a bonus you can spray your hair with the leftovers to make it grow faster ;-)

  2. Mike

    Or just watch Bill Murray in the classic movie Caddie Shack demo how to deal with burrowing pests. Some neighborhood cat left us a dead vole on our sidewalk last week,

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