Why your pets could enlighten you on wildlife behavior | Guest Post

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“Cats are wild animals!”

My dad would insist anytime we would worry when our cats strayed outside for too long.

“No, I am a parent, okay? Do you even know what it means to have your vulnerable babies roaming in the dark?”

I’d say with tears clouding my eyes.

We would then each pick up a flashlight and form a ‘fur ball’ search party. You’d question our sanity if you heard the funny noises and meowing we made in the dark. After searching for hours and almost giving up, the sneaky pooping machines would cutely come out of their hiding and walk into the house in one single file.

Although the subject of whether they are wild animals is still debatable in our home, we have been unable to completely tame them as we do not spay or neuter our pets. Obviously it means they get to roam, hunt and seek for mates and buddies outside.

It should be rainbows and butterflies. But freedom for this fur balls comes with a heavy cost to us.

When Skinny, our first cat, chocked on a piece of meat and died, I cried myself to sleep. Few months later, when Simba was allegedly catnapped (kidnapping for cats), I wanted to burn the whole village down. After birthing three generations of kittens, Gram-Gram was murdered in a road-kill and Monkey went missing.

Sometimes when you see a grown woman hissing and growling, know that her furry babies died. Give her some space. But it is not always rough times when you let your animals get wild. The perk is in learning interesting facts about animal behavior, wildlife included.

Here are insightful anecdotes:

  1. Habitat Loss

Simba recently found his way back home after 2 years. That’s probably because the people that catnapped him were close to our home. Many cat owners tell a different story especially after they move away further away from home.

Cats are more attached to their homes than to their humans.

Same way, wild animals are attached to their habitats. Scientists have found that when animals lose their habitat, some of the implications include death, loss of mates, human-wildlife conflict, wildlife-wildlife conflict and loss of natural balance.

  1. Habitat change (Fragmentation)

There was once a minor renovation in our home. After it was done, the bedroom was turned into a library so I had to move. The kitchen door opened from the left and for security reasons, we wanted it to open from the right. These changes, made about seven months ago, are still confusing for our oldest cat, Kitten.

He still meows and scratches at the former bedroom door. When we open it, he always seems very confused until we lead him to the current bedroom.

How much severe is habitat alteration to wild animals that do not have humans to guide or comfort them in their confusion? Say, what happens if a road or a railway cuts through their path?

I’ll tell you what.

Mother goose and her ducklings bleeding under your van.

Low-key birds that prefer low disturbance will also move. When they move away from the edges the community will suffer an imbalance. It is close to impossible for scientists to track down how these specific populations adjust to their new habitats.

  1. Feeding Habits (Preference)

The twins, Biskit and Pipi, are very picky with food. Pipi, the female, is very clean and refuses to eat ‘trash’. She only eats from well cleaned bowl and loves mashed ugali in milk/ meat. She’ll rarely hunt but she kills the rats she comes across.

Cats are very choosy and 50% of feeding time is sniff-and-leave time.

This tells you about wildlife feeding preferences. General observation of a landscape could imply that there’s enough to eat. However, there are meals that are tasteless or bitter to an animal. For herbivores, aspects like this would help to understand their why some animals would choose a drier habitat as opposed to greener pastures. They’re always looking for that crunchy or buttery feel in a meal.

As we know, plants (the producers) are the beginning of the food chain and this attracts the herbivores that prefer that kind of vegetation. This will then invite carnivores. Without a proper food chain in a habitat, the feeding habits will definitely affect animals from the top of the food chain to the lowest. So, we could conclude that food preference determines the community around a certain habitat.

pets and wildlife

Kittens via pexels

Do you have any pet stories that have enlightened you on wildlife behavior? Please share with us in the comments below.

Written by Hannah Kageche | Cera Moon

Cera Moon is an environmental writer and lifestyle blogger. Find some of her recent works at Wisdom of Living Blog.

Also read:

Pets can teach us about wildlife.

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Share The Wild Side
Vicki Wangui
Vicki Wangui
Vicki Wangui is a believer in all things beautiful. A believer in spreading information in regards to environmental awareness. A believer in sharing all that is good in Kenya's natural world. A believer in speaking truth with no boundaries. Do you have a story, photo, experience or message you need to share? Send your work to vicki@nyikasilika.org or vickiwangui26@gmail.com.

2 Comments

  1. First of all: took a quick tour through your website now. I really love your project and I am totally aligned with all the awards you have received. We need more websites like this on the internet. 

    About the blog post: I totally agree that taking a wild animal away from their natural habitat is not a very good thing to do. Dogs and cats have now been “used” by us humans in hundreds of years, which means that their evolution has changed. They are no longer doing very well on their own (just look at how many wild dogs that die every year due to starvation), which means that humans are needed to keep them alive.

    But keeping lions, tortoises and other “exotic” animals in capture? No-no-no…

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