EVERY day the climate activists tell us to stop ruining the environment and nature, so why are they ignoring the large-scale destruction that cats do? Fear of the cat brigade?

Australia has a domestic cat population of five million plus three million strays. Between them they have wiped out 27 native birds and animal species. In Australia cats kill 390 million animals, reptiles and birds every year. Australian states have introduced a cat curfew, put a limit on the number of cats per household and ordered that cats must be on a lead if leaving the property. In the UK 55 million birds are killed by cats every year and a total of 275 million animals are killed each year. Why are the normally-vocal green environmentalists silent when you need them?

Time to follow Australia's lead – and add a compulsory bell round the cat's neck to warn the birds and animals. A church bell should do the trick.
Clark Cross, Linlithgow

Talking about depression

WHAT a clear, wise and helpful description of depression and the need for appropriate antidepressant prescription from Lennie Pennie ("We don’t take depression drugs for fun. We take as we need them", The Herald, March 11). For many patients I prescribed what I still refer to as the “modern antidepressants" for the last 25 years. Latterly, I found it reassuring that on several occasions they have worked well for me.

By day 23 my depressive spells, insidiously and miserably developing for the previous eight to 10 weeks, have been relieved, as if a light switch coming on. That said, it is clear that only two out of three people prescribed an antidepressant for depression achieve that resolution with a first choice prescription. These drugs also have a useful role in anxiety disorders.

Of course, talking therapies can be a most useful adjunct treatment and the human connection with GP or therapist, family and friends, is important.

Is there more depression experienced now than in previous years? It’s possible that we are less resilient. It’s also probable that we are more prepared to present such symptoms for consideration and treatment – which is good news. Employers are more accepting that individuals need time out to adjust and recover in such circumstances. But there is a duty on both to tackle stressors and build resilience as a preventative strategy. Full recovery is likely, leading to productive work, sound relationships, family fun and fellowship.

For some, living with little hope and in deprived “societal circumstances”, tailing off and stopping antidepressants can seem a challenge too far. They add to the statistic of increasing numbers of such prescriptions year on year. In the 10 years till 2020, antidepressant prescription volume increased by 70% in Scotland.

For many, depressive illness at intervals is their life course; circumstances and life events such as loss or family break-up but part of that tapestry, not actually causal. They are likely to benefit from continuing antidepressant prescription. Recent research from Southampton showed that just over half experience a relapse within a year of stopping.

Others have found major difficulty with withdrawal or discontinuation effects even when reducing their dose very slowly. Happily, they represent a very small but important minority deserving of support and empathy.
Philip Gaskell (retired GP), Drymen

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Maths is fun... or is it?

WHILE the SNP is in the throes of electing another leader, I thought it might be a good excuse to mention Arrow’s Theorem, which states that there is no perfect voting system.

Suppose three voters Alice, Bob and Clare are choosing between three candidates, lets call them Ash, Kate and Humza for want of better names. Alice prefers Ash to Kate to Humza. Bob prefers Kate to Humza to Ash. And Clare prefers Humza to Ash to Kate. So a majority prefer Ash to Kate; and a majority prefer Kate to Humza; and a majority prefer Humza to Ash.

So, preferences obtained by majority voting between pairs do not give a coherent ranking. Or, put differently, the outcome depends on the order in which the options are presented. If the first choice is between Ash and Kate, then Kate will be eliminated, and then Ash will be eliminated when compared with Humza. But, if the first choice is between Ash and Humza then Ash will be eliminated, and then Humza will be eliminated when compared with Kate. Still with me? Finally, if the first choice is between Kate and Humza, then Humza will be eliminated, and then Kate will be eliminated when compared with Ash.

This is a special case of Arrow’s theorem. Do check it out on Google. Maths can be fun.
Doug Clark, Currie

• WE have "done" Latin and English language grammar in the Letters Pages but not yet taken a look at Mathematics. I decided to dip into my wee book Maths in Minutes by Paul Glendinning and try to comprehend something from it. A hopeless dud at the subject all my life but liking to ferret around amongst the numbers, I took the plunge.

I discovered that I have taken a liking to The Mandelbrot Set where I see tree trunks, branches and twigs in ever-expanding order; then Complex Functions which appear to be lots of pretty seahorses exiting page right. Best of all I really like The Pigeonhole Principle, where 101 pigeons have to be fitted into 100 boxes. I am told how it works during which I am referred to a city of 900,000 people each having 150,000 hairs on their head. Using the Pigeonhole Principle I am assured that there will be at least two of them with the same number of hairs.

Good grief! How did I get here? It is no wonder I haven't a clue about mathematics. Better to stay with grammar and Latin and hope for the best. There again, rummaging about in this little book is very entertaining.
Thelma Edwards, Kelso

Heading for the top

AROUND the time I started in newspapers, the New York Times was quoted as having run the all-time best heading.

Gloria Swanson’s illness had prevented her for embarking for Europe. When a new date for departure had been made public, the paper allegedly appeared with the heading "Sick Gloria in transit Monday".
Gordon Casely, Crathes

• FURTHER to some of your amusing misunderstandings of foreign phrases, I remember many years ago hearing on either the radio programme The Navy Lark or Round the Horne the supposed motto of the French Navy being “A l’eau. C’est l’heure.”
M Swanson, Falkirk

Read more: Don't stigmatise folk who take antidepressants


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