I just found out that Ozzie the cockatiel, beloved feather-baby of my friend Leah and honoured guest in my house last year, was killed by a roaming pet cat, who attacked him inside his cage, tearing off one of his wings. He had to be put down.
Ozzie loved eating Post-It notes, chewing on important pieces of paper, and whistling Jingle Bells off-key.
He was seven years old – young for a cockatiel – these Australian natives can live up to 20 years in captivity, and are intelligent, loving companions.
Feral and other marauding cats kill millions of animals every night across the country, doubtless many wild cockatiels among them. Not all of them have names, personal histories that tie them to humans like Ozzie, but all of them are vital, living parts of the complicated landscape that we call home.
Cats do not need to roam outdoors. Sure, most like to, but it’s not strictly necessary for their happiness and well-being. I’d like to spend my whole life frolicking at the beach drinking fancy cocktails and eating green tea ice cream whilst receiving foot massages, but we can’t have it all.
My cat never goes outside, and is rarely seen listening to Morrissey records, moping around in heavy black make-up or looking longingly at razorblades. I make sure she has fun things to play with indoors, feed her a healthy diet, and occasionally sling a tennis ball her way for her to murder like the mesopredator she is.
Keep your cats inside. Desex them. Microchip them. Love them and keep them safe from cars, disease, dogs and other animals. Keep the local wildlife and other people’s pets safe from your cat. It’s better for everyone.