Our Homes, Pets and Natural Environment: Supporting Coexistence Through Responsible Pet Ownership

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Nature perseveres even in the most constructed environment. The cycle of life continues, in our parks, courtyards and the green spaces in between. Falcons hunt rodents, rodents hunt for seeds, and both seek mates, even temporary ones.

We rarely take the time to reflect on the impact of the “wildlife” we bring with us on the natural world around us. Our dogs, from stoic German Shepherds to the fluffiest toy poodle, are descended from wolves. Our cats, distant relatives of the wild cat in the Middle East, are undoubtedly semi-domesticated, after only 12,000 years of human intervention. Maybe 12,000 years from now, the common house cat will be as perky and eager to please as the average golden retriever, but I doubt it.

No matter how loving our pets are, they are the descendants of top predators, and they have the ability to negatively impact the fragile ecological balance that lingers around us. A few simple commitments allow us to continue to coexist. First, neuter and neuter your pets. Unplanned litters contribute to overcrowding in animal shelters and stray populations. Intact pets are also more likely to roam, disturb and harm wildlife.

Second, maintain control over your pets at all times. It can be adorable to watch your fox terrier frolic unhindered in an urban park, but they are potentially on the hunt for rodent burrows and bird nests to tear down with glee. Your cat is a fierce predator, with the unfair advantage of a delicious and reliable supply of cat food. The flow of calories you provide gives Fluffy the energy to enthusiastically hunt. Keep your dogs on a leash or under voice control and your cats indoors. If your feline needs fresh air, consider building an enclosed catio. Generations of discerning cats have ensured that the internet contains instructions for easy and affordable catio building.

And finally, take a moment to observe and appreciate the vibrancy of life around you. All around your home, animals hunt, eat, breed and die. Nature has found a way, and we all have a responsibility to respect and protect our local natural ecosystems and essential biodiversity that depends on the interconnection of all its parts.


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