WHEN I STEPPED off our back porch that June morning, some kerfuffle of squawks, feathers, and paws stopped me. There was Tom, our all-gray feral cat, slinking about. Then I made out some red streaks above — cardinals. I noticed Tom had something in his mouth. I cringed. Legs? Wings? Tail? Head? It was a baby bird. Its parents were hot on Tom’s trail.
Some sense of moral — my husband would say unnecessary — responsibility got hold of me. In that moment, I decided I was not going to let the cat I had brought into this backyard eat that bird, no matter how many birds he’d already nabbed. I yelled and chased Tom. And after I shamed the cat into dropping his prey under the trampoline, my 8-year-old son, Oliver, rescued the fledgling.