Kitty’s Last Laugh

It’s a Mice-Eats-Pig World (and
They’re not Calling in the Cats?)

Many a pig farmer in Adelaide, Australia, have caught sight of an unholy mess lately: hundreds of tiny mice viciously attacking and dining on their prized, expensive stock right in front of their eyes.
The situation seems to be getting the best out of some of them, who’ve resorted to desperate (and frankly, bizarre) measures to put a stop to this carnage.
For instance, a father of four (children, that is) and owner of several swines decided that the best thing to do would be to slather them (the pigs, for crying out loud) with engine oil.
The mice seem to be turned off by the taste, he said. Smart creatures. What apparently no one told him is that the oil may actually kill the pigs, or poison their meat.
To be perfectly honest, the whole thing seemed a bit extreme to us. That is, until we heard that another farmer was trying his own home concoction to solve the problem.
He mixes icing sugar and cement. Mice love sugar, so they eat it, and then the cement clogs them up. Gosh, aren’t you glad we haven’t asked bacon lovers for their input to?
Or gun lovers, for that matter. Which reminds us of an episode that happened a few years back. It was called The Great Australian Cat Predicament. Do you see where we’re going with this?
Overpopulation of feral cats had become such a problem throughout the country, that when allegedly everything else failed to reduce their numbers, people were clear to shoot them.
To be fair, the decision was a bit more nuanced than how it sounds, but cats had become such a nuisance that even animal lovers couldn’t agree on whether it was a good or a terrible thing to do.
The issue pitted whole segments of the society, too. Bird lovers, of course, were delighted. Low income people and the lonely elderly, not so much. In the end, it seems to have worked.
Feral cats are an issue in many European cities, we all know that. The ones in Rome are legendary. Other places even venerate and protect them. For all purposes, ferals are wild animals, but descend mostly from abandoned domestic cats, so you know who should be blamed for their overpopulation.
As predators, cats are also opportunistic creatures: if you feed them, they’ll come, but they won’t rely exclusively on your good graces. Your own house cat, well fed and all, always has room for the occasional garden treat, of the flying or scurry kind. It’s in their nature, etc.
Left to their own devices, though, they do become a problem. As anyone would tell you, living in the city streets can be miserable. But as skilled killers, they’re adaptable.
As were the cats left at the Galapagos Archipelago by the 1700s navigators. In the span of a generation, they’d killed pretty much everything up to twice their size, including a few now extinct species. But they never asked to be left behind.
Back to Adelaide. One can not deny, with absolute certainty, that the current mice infestation is not an unfortunate byproduct of the mass cat extermination of the 1990s.
Putting two and two together, we just may be up to something here. Why not giving cats another shot? No disrespect to pig farmers down there and the other-white-meat lovers who’d hate to see them go mad, but we’d always give cats another shot.
That is, if that famous flutist remains unavailable.

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