With bells on

Note: If you don’t like animals being killed or you’re a bit squeamish, you might want to skip this post. See you next time.

Ayesha, Wicca and Kyah are the three cats I cohabitate with and the cat across the road thinks he’s part of the clowder. My cats are friends with the cat across the road, but Sheeba the dog wants to kill him. Despite this he joins us at dinner time, no matter how many times I tell Sheeba to kill. (I’m not totally heartless because I know Sheeba’s not fast enough to catch him; Sheeba hasn’t worked this out yet.)

ayesha with bells wicca with one bell showing kyah with one bell, she now has more

Wicca regularly loses his collar and last month when he lost it I took a while to get another one. I was watering the garden an hour after Wicca had decided not to partake of the fine dining a la tinned mush. He jumped over the fence and sat down on a lettuce seedling with a dove in his mouth. He very nearly got a hosing, but I refrained and told him to go back over that fence and kill it immediately (the bird was still flapping its wings). Why didn’t I try to take the bird out of his mouth and apply CPR?

The week before Wicca had jumped the fence with a dove in his mouth and it wasn’t yet dead. I thought I’d just open his mouth and remove the bird, hoping it wouldn’t be too injured. I know how to open a cat’s mouth without injury to either of us (Kyah has a twice daily pill habit she wishes she didn’t). I pressed on the sides of Wicca’s mouth. I then discovered his teeth were too deeply embedded and they just ripped the flesh as they opened. I couldn’t see the flesh, but I could see the blood oozing out. I could also see one of the dove’s eyes, staring straight at me. I was sure if he weren’t so terrified he would have said,

Things were fine until you came along. You are evil because you let your cat roam free. I’ve put a hex on you.

I walked away and let it happen again. I couldn’t see the bird’s eye this time, but that didn’t assuage my guilt. Even the second bird didn’t cause me to get another collar right away. The first two were laughing doves (Streptopelia senegalensis) a species introduced from Africa or India from 1898 on [1]. It was when Wicca killed a singing honeyeater (Lichenostomus virescens) that I got another the collar.

The collar came with two bells. I had a spare bell so I added that. Supposedly four is the number a cat can’t silence [2], but he hasn’t brought in any more fresh meals. I’m going to put more bells on the others’ collars since they’re so effective. In the past one of them would kills rats and mice, it may have been Ayesha, but she doesn’t wander so much because she’s part Siamese. I thought Kyah only killed skinks and geckoes (which traumatizes me, because unlike Wicca who eats his prey, Kyah just torments them and leaves them for me to find) but then I found Kyah hiding around the side, surrounded by feathers. Recently she tried bringing a mouse inside, with only its tail hanging from her mouth. I don’t mind the slaughter of mice and rats because they were introduced to Australia. I think the current lack of mouse and rat meals is because the cats have culled them all. Of course the only reason the cats don’t kill indigenous mammals is there are none left in suburban Perth [3].

Why do I let this happen when they damage my local wildlife so much? (My cats were desexed at 6mths, so I’m not totally evil.) Wicca yowls at the door if I lock him inside when he doesn’t want to be and during the day my house gets very hot in summer. Night time is meant to be when you lock up your cat, but Wicca spends most nights on my bed, with Ayesha and Kyah. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation suggests,

outdoor cats can be trained to be indoor cats.

Traci M. Jones wrote about the Perils in the Life of an Outdoor Cat, including skin cancer. Wicca has pink ears and nose. I put sunscreen on him, which he hates, so being indoors would solve that problem. But I haven’t done it yet and all those bells may have solved the problem.



  1. Pizzey, Graham & Doyle, Roy (1980) A field guide to the birds of Australia. Sydney: Collins.
  2. Hill, Anthony & Tanner, Jane (2007) Lucy’s cat and the Rainbow Birds, Camberwell, Vic: Penguin.
  3. Hunter, John (2007) “Urban Antics: Quendas in the Park” Landscope magazine, vol.23, no.1, p.62.

3 thoughts on “With bells on

  1. I had to laugh at “I’ve put a hex on you!”. But my mum’s cat had lots of bells on his collar, and we found him trying to stalk birds with his front paw wedged inside his collar – it did stop the jingling, but it meant he couldn’t stalk properly, so we hope that’s ok. I think it’s easier to train cats to be indoors-only if you start when they’re young.

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