Cats, Bastet and My Garden

Cat with pet MP

I have been living in this house for 13 years, and during that time all sorts of things have changed… some for the better, some for the worse. One thing that has definitely gone off is the bird population.

When we first came here we used to put out lots of feeders, and a host of wonderful birds of all kinds appeared and stuffed their birdy faces – finches, tits, sparrows, blackbirds, thrushes – a veritable diversity of avian life. Then gradually, very gradually, the cat population went up … and the bird population went down. Now we have no birds in our garden. We don’t feed them because the cats used the bird table as bait when they were on the prowl, and the ground feeders were fair game. After two blackbirds snuffed it, the bird table was chopped up for firewood.

I love cats. I always had cats in my life until recently. I also love birds. But cats and birds don’t tend to be compatible. Don’t tell me your cat doesn’t catch and kill birds. All cats either do or want to, unless the cat is thick, or a reincarnation of a bird, equipped with matching birdbrain.

Where we live in the suburby bit of Brighton, cats, as pets, should be restricted. No household should have two cats, and no two households living next door to each other should have cats. In areas like this, where there are terraced houses, the enclosed gardens have been completely emptied of birds and bird life. It’s really sad, apart from the lack of bird song it has screwed up the ecological balance. The god of cats is in the ascendancy right now, and personally, I’m not sure if this is an entirely good thing, even though I’m a cat lover, and allow the neighbour’s beastie to drop by at the slightest squawk.

Holy beings, please take note of my blog.  Nobody else does. You divine godly ones create zillions of animal species that prey merrily on each other, as BBC wildlife programmes point out so graphically – grabbing, killing and consuming each other with gruesome gusto. Doesn’t it get you down? I suppose that’s part of the programme. The problem is, here in the leafy suburbs cats no longer kill to eat, they kill for sport, like their counterpart, the birdbrained human being.

The Egyptians and others tended to find gods that were animal specific. Bastet was the cat goddess, and it is difficult not to favour her lovely attributes. On the other hand the Egyptians were sensible to revere cats, because they were so nippy and skippy at removing vermin – mice, rats and even snakes, something clearly useful at the time. But do we need this kind of useful skill today? I reckon Dick Whittington should keep his pet under control for the Christmas season or even longer if we are to see a sparrow or thrush ever again.

My memo to Bastet goes like this…Dear Bastet, you were popular a couple of thousand years back, and you’re popular now. We love you for your mysterious superiority, beauty and intelligence, but when it comes to your infants’ murderous activities in my garden can you please reduce their carnivorous proclivities, not to mention other things they do, that are equally unlovable and unspeakable, particularly for the gardeners amongst us.


Bastet and Mouse

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