On 29 December, a Hermit thrush was brought to our Bayside clinic, Humboldt Wildlife Care Center. A kind woman had rescued the small bird from an all-too-common neighborhood marauder, a domestic cat. She rushed the bird to HWCC hoping we could help the poor fellow out.
After a thorough exam, we found only that about half of his tail feathers had been torn out. After a course of precautionary antibiotics (cat saliva is a bacterial stew that most often fatally infects small animals), this thrush was active and anxious to be as far from his caregivers as he could get.
Once in our songbird aviary he demonstrated quickly that his flight was as perfect as we could we judge. Just over a week in care, he was released back to the place he was rescued.
There are a number of actions to be taken to protect wild animals from domestic cat attacks. The most important of course is to keep domestic cats indoors. Some cats will gladly use a leash. An outdoor enclosure (a catio?) can be fun to build and a great solution if your kitty must go outside. The benefits of life as an indoor cat are many – including a much longer average lifespan and far fewer health problems.
This Hermit thrush was one of the lucky ones. Of the 110 animals caught by a cat that we admitted for care in 2013, only 22% survived to be released. Without timely, urgent care the prognosis for cat-attacked small animals is very poor.
If you find or see a wild animal that has been attacked by a cat, seek help immediately. Call a wildlife rehabilitator in your area. If you don’t know a local rehabilitator call 888-975-8188, or visit the California Council for Wildlife Rehabilitators website. On California’s North Coast, call Humboldt Wildlife Care Center at 707-822-8839.
If you’d like to help, we always need financial support and volunteers. Help us prevent wild life injuries. Help us return injured wild animals to their wild and free lives.