The story: Cats have fast breeding cycles and can produce a litter of 2-6 every few months, up to 3 times or so a year. This can create 6 - 18 kittens who will be doing the very same thing as soon as they mature if they are not fixed. This rapid reproduction of the little animals creates an overpopulation and since pet owners cannot take care of all these new kittens they become unwanted.
Unwanted kittens are subject to various situations, few of them beneficial to the kittens. This picture epitomizes one fate that has befallen countless Kittens across the United States and Europe.
Because people want to get rid of these kittens that they cannot keep they will offer them free to people who are willing to take them off their hand. While some of these kittens end up in truly good homes, it is not the norm. Rather people will take these kittens and use them for various things.
Pythons and other large snakes do not eat often, but when they do they require something large like a rat or a rabbit. These however cost money and what is much easier is to obtain something that is free. Unwanted kittens just happen to be free in many places, thus some, not all, large snake owners, will seek out ads for free kittens in order to obtain free snake food.
The issue: The issue is not that kittens are being feed to snakes, making snakes vile or anything of the sort. Snakes eat, and a kitten can be food just like any animal. The issue is the nature of kittens as food, and the nature of people obtaining kittens as food.
Kittens first of all do not make good food. They are carnivores, subject to parasites and bacteria that herbivores, like rats and rabbits, do not possess. Thus eating a kitten is not healthy for a snake. Kittens also have claws that are bigger and sharper than those of a rat, these too can be dangerous to a snake who is eating one. Free kittens are also not vaccinated or dewormed and may well be carrying illness that the snake may contract. A loving snake owner would never feed their snake this sort of food.
Another side of this story is the fact that many people give away their free kittens thinking that people who express genuine interest in them, is going to love and care for the animal. Few people who are planning to use the kittens as a food source are upfront about it. Thus people willingly give these kittens thinking they will be going to a new home while the reality is that they are being given away to their demise.
The last and largest issue, is the notion of cruelty. Kittens are not bred as feeder animals. As with the chickens and cows and other animals we eat, or the rabbits and mice that we feed to snakes, these animals are raised from birth with little personal human interaction. They are fed, and if in a humane location, they are kept clean. Kittens on the other hand, are often nurtured no only by their mothers but by the humans they are with. They are bred in pet stores to be held and friendly to humans. With this sort of nurturing, the kittens grow up to expect love and kindness, this is why they are playful with humans and do not run away. Kittens put up for adoption are often at least a few weeks old because before then they are dependent on their mothers. To take a kitten who has been raised to be loved and expect love from humans for the first 4-8 weeks of its life, and then set it before a snake to be preyed upon and ultimately eaten, is beyond inhumane and cruel. Thus to the notion that the kitten is the same as a feeder animal is very much incorrect.
The Conclusion: This horrible occurance that is a detriment to kittens and snakes everywhere, can be addressed in three ways.
1) Raise awareness. Many people do not know how bad it is for snakes to eat kittens, or that people even feed kittens to snakes at all.
2) Fix and spay your cats. Cats can be fixed as early as 8 weeks. Doing this will cut down on the amount of kittens that are born each year, thus cutting down on the number of unwanted kittens and those that ultimately end up as snake food. Also do not give away unfixed kittens, because as the owner it is your responsibility to care for the kittens that your cat has had. IF you did not want your cat to become pregnant, then it would have been wise to have fixed her and kept her indoors.
3) Do not sell or accept free kittens. Free kittens for sale invites people who desire to use these creatures for ill-means. If these kittens had a price tag then they would not be worth it to feed to snakes at all.
These are the two 18-month old cheetah brothers. Fritzi is the yawning one and the right one is Hannibal. Have you known that male cheetahs are sometimes found in groups in the wild? They're mostly brothers but also other male cheetahs might join them. These cheetah groups are usually small having two or three cheetahs but even bigger has been seen with more than 10 cheetahs!
Lets celebrate the International Cheetah Day If you care about these magnificent felines you should support the Cheetah Conservation Fund! If you like cheetahs, have a look at this folder containing mainly high quality cheetah photos: [link] more cheetah photos will be posted during the day I'm participating with this photo in the International Cheetah Day Challenge. Follow the link if you would like to know more about it.
Feedback is also highly appreciated Photo 1/17 more are coming during the day
A DD? Wow thank you sooo much guys Hannibal & Fritzi - two 18 month old male cheetahs (Acinonyx Jubatus) Canon EOS 400D; Hanimar 200mm f/3.5 Aachener Tierpark