I was standing on my deck this morning, as a few small birds ate from a bird feeder I keep filled during the winter months. As I watched my feathered friends, I began to hear a faint, intermittent jingling. It sounded like either wind chimes or a very small bell. The strange thing is, the sound wasn't continuous. It would ring for a few seconds, stop, and then a few moments later, start again. Eventually, the birds stopped feeding, and began to swivel their heads back and forth, as if confused by the sound.
Suddenly, a large black cat sprang from behind an azalea bush, and raced towards the bird feeder. Within seconds, and amid the sound of a constantly ringing bell; the birds took flight, and disappeared. I love cats, but I couldn't help but mount a hearty cheer for the birds, who due to a small bell, had once again escaped the cruel hand of fate. The cat was left to gaze up at the empty feeder, and plan for a future ambush. If I could read his mind, I'd probably hear,
"Darn it-not again! That's the fourth time this week. I used to be so good at this. What am I doing wrong? I move slowly, stalk my unsuspecting prey, and attack at the right moment. Heck, I even hear a dinner bell ringing."
Looking closely at the large, jet-black feline, I could see he wasn't a feral cat by the sleek and shiny coat, well-fed exterior, and the bright pink bow with the tiny gold bell dangling from his neck. I pointed at the him, and said,
"What’s with the pink collar, Tinkerbell?
He seemed to understand my words as he looked up at me with a steely glare, and shook his head, as if to dislodge the bell. He then lowered his head slightly as if ashamed of the bright pink encumbrance around his neck, took off running, and disappeared into the shrubbery at the back of my lawn. I continued to hear the bell, for a minute or so as he headed into the distance.
Do you think, putting a bell on cats is cruel, or does it help to protect native bird populations? I don't think I would like it; though my wife would probably love to know where I was all the time.
Whoever came up with the idea of bells on cat collars? I like to think this simple device was invented by one of the more intelligent species of birds. Do you think a group of bright and ingenious South American Parrots, were hanging out in a jungle canopy, when a puma ran by with another parrot in its mouth? I can hear the conversation now.
"Hey guys! Was that Joe that just went by in that big cat’s mouth? I didn't even hear him coming. We need to do something. What's that Ernie? Hmmmmm......... Hang a big bell around the Puma's neck. You know something? It sounds a little crazy, but it just might work. Now, do any of you know where we can find a big collar?"