Thursday, 20 October 2011

A moral dilemma (and a cat is involved)

As a Catholic am I entitled to kill a neighbour's cat because it is stalking my bantams? What would St Thomas Aquinas have to say on the matter I wonder?

This is the moral dilemma facing me (the topical one at any rate).

If I shot this marauding moggy it would equate with breaking the 'Thou shalt not steal' commandment but what other options do I have?

I know that if I approach my neighbour and make a case for restricting the cat in some way it will be met with a point blank refusal; a cat is, after all, a free agent able to roam the fields and hedgerows as it will. Fences will not contain it. The only solution would be for the neighbour to make the cat a 'house cat', never to see the great outdoors again - that seems a bit harsh.

Bantams may safely to avoid a cat-astrophe!

Meanwhile, as pastor of a flock I have a duty of protection towards them. It's not as though my bantams are pets precisely; they have essential functions like laying eggs and eating all the things that creep under the earth and providing my garden with enrichment (if you get my drift).

And I cannot keep them penned up either. My bantams are all either pure blood Old English Game or second generation thereof and that means they are, basically, as wild as the Jungle Fowl that they are descended from. They would pine and fall sick if confined, even in a roomy pen.

Now, in the context of global warming, economic meltdown, war, famine etc., this problem is pretty paltry (oops! sorry) but I find it refreshing to have such parochial issues to worry about from time to time; it takes my mind off the four horsemen of the Apocalypse (and Bishops) and boots me back into being some sort of sane(er) person.

So, after some internet research I have come up with the answer which I am happy to share with Mulier Fortis and other cat lovers...I shall commence a novena to St Gertrude...who she?

Patron Saint of cats of course......but hold on...shouldn't I be looking for a patron saint of chickens?

Well, after another web search I find that I should be praying to St Brigid of Ireland, patron saint of poultry keepers.......I shall do both!


  1. You might also try St Agatha - patron saint of bell-makers - and then suggest to your neighbour that he attaches one to the cat's collar, thereby giving your bantamns advance warning of his arrival.

  2. Mark, alas, bantams have the mental capacity of a cowpat and would not shrink from the tinkling of a bell. If it was a large bell however.......

  3. Ahhh, chickens! A subject close to my own heart - we have a small flock of a dozen assorted hybrid hens with a tiny Japanese Bantam rooster to keep them in line. Our problem tends to be foxes, not cats (we have two cats, but they've never paid any attention to the chickens, and our chicken paddock is cat proof). I can't recommend any poultry patron saints to help, but there's a technology based ethical solution to your cat dilemma: CatWatch. It uses infra-red heat and motion sensors to detect the cat and an ultrasonic alarm pitched at a frequency that cats find painful to hear (although inaudible to people -- having said that, my children can hear the fox-watch!). We used the fox version when we had our chickens free range in our previous inner-city garden, and it really does work: I can't see why the cat version would be any less effective. "Catwatch" info at -- I strongly recommend running it off mains power rather than batteries as the chickens will keep setting it off and the batteries will run down v quickly; also it's apparently 35% louder to the cat when run off mains power. Cheaper to buy here than direct from the manufacturer(

    Result - the cat will train itself to stay away from your chickens, and your neighbour need never know.

    Our problem is that at 1/2 acre+ our garden is too big to cover with a FoxWatch, so whilst I have a couple strategically placed, I've also offered a bounty for the pelt of any fox shot with bow and arrow in our garden. Not really a solution that works with cats...

  4. Hi Annie - thank you, you have reminded me that I have an old Foxwatch sensor but, we also have half an acre plus and, as you say, the hens set it off but I might try it at the point of entry in the garden.

  5. Hi Richard - I don't think that FoxWatch works for cats: feline hearing is in a different range. I think Concept Research also do a combined product though that has a dual tone...

  6. Annie - have to be the crossbow then!

  7. Yes, the paltry yet peculiar poultry problem! At least your neighbor's name isn't Schrödinger; then you'd never know if the cat were dead or alive. Can you consult a solicitor on the matter? What if you at least gave fair warning?

  8. What about the water hose set on Jet Stream?
    You would have to sit and watch and wait with a gun anyway so a water gun/hose would be as shocking to the cat but not so final for the owner ( and cats cannot tell-tales).

    You may have to do it a few times for it to get the message though - unlike the gun.

    Good luck.
    Oh! I knew an Evangelist who set Angels around her property (free ranging - no house even) When she caught a fox with a hen in it's mouth she ordered it, in the name of Jesus, to drop it. It did!

    Cats may be Atheists though.