This is Alfie the Bengal cat.
He goes for off-leash walks with his owner Alicia Grumont. The aim is to give him exercise in the great outdoors, so he won’t roam and kill wildlife.
“There are lots of debates going on about banning cats from going outside or councils putting curfews on cats to protect wildlife,” Alicia said.
This has been raised in Lake Macquarie before, where the prominent birdlife doesn’t always mix well with the hunting instincts of domestic kitty cats.
Alicia said all cats enjoy some form of interaction with the natural environment.
“It only takes a cat staring longingly outside the window to see how the outside world captivates them,” she said.
She says it’s hard to keep cats indoors, especially those who like to roam. She reckons it’s time for owners to embrace an “alternative lifestyle for cats”.
This means allowing cats outside, while supervised. She’s referring to “outdoor excursions or adventures” for cats.
“People just need to see it’s possible. The rest will fall into place,” she said.
We like your positive attitude, Alicia. But how will cats be kept under control?
She’s urging people to “think outside the litter box”. It’s this mindset that encouraged her to establish “adventurous principals” to be used as training techniques for “adventure cats”.
This includes focusing on “positive operant conditioning”, which she said was “a term for effectively training sentient beings”.
This technique, she said, was “usually used in the context of dogs”.
“But I've used it in my time at people management at Telstra with the same results,” she said.
This technique, she said, could also be described as “positive reinforcement”.
“Getting angry, being upset at them or even hitting them will yield negative outcomes. Cats don't respond to dominance. So reinforce the good stuff and ignore the bad.”
She also urged cat owners to “connect with love, rather than trying to control”.
“By enabling cats to have safe access to nature and more quality time with owners, it increases the bond and helps solve bad habits. Everybody wins.”
Scare the Crows
Topics published this photo last week of a crow pinching a golf ball from Charlestown Golf Club.
Herald photographer Max Mason-Hubers took the photo a couple of years back. It was a funny parallel to a story about Buller Street in Charlestown, where residents had resorted to wrapping their windscreen wipers in towels and other material.
The rubber wiper blades were being repeatedly damaged and pinched by ravens.
Eric Roach, of Croudace Bay, said this reminded him of a time in the 1970s when he worked as a regional sports organiser for the education department.
“I sold a number of starting pistols to friends and acquaintances who played golf at Steelworks Golf Club, which is now Shortland Waters Golf Club,” he said.
“They had a similar problem there with the crows. On one particular hole, the crows would often come down, take the ball and fly away.”
The starter pistols were used to scare the crows before golfers teed off at the hole in question. This kept their golf balls safe.
Sticking with the bird theme, Kurri Kurri’s Col Maybury told Topics he recently saw a feather “floating about four metres up beside the edge of our pond”.
Thing is, there was no wind.
As he watched the floating feather, a welcome swallow zoomed down, picked it up and flew upwards at speed.
The bird then dropped the feather.
“These swallows have been nesting in our carport for about seven years,” Col said.
His wife Marcy likes to chat to them.
“They raise at least three batches of four chicks. We watch them feed and then learn to fly,” he said.
“The interesting thing is they lose a parent from time to time, but manage to get another.”
Getting back to the feather, Col says it “fell again and again”.
He realised the bird was playing.
Col wants to know if anyone else has noticed this kind of thing. Let us know at email@example.com.