Cats & Songbirds

Cats & Songbirds

Each yr, thousands and thousands of songbirds are killed by roaming cats. Here’s how you can preserve your kitty from including to the statistics.

Cats are hardwired to hunt. Just transfer a laser mild throughout the ground and watch your kitty skillfully stalk, pounce and bounce on it. Outdoor cats do the identical, besides their quarry consists of rodents, bugs, and birds. Unfortunately, cats don’t differentiate between these pesky mice nesting beneath your deck, and the songbirds visiting your backyard. And that’s an issue, as a result of many species of songbird are already in severe decline, due to habitat loss, pesticide use, and different elements. In this text, we’ll have a look at how one can shield native songbirds out of your kitty’s pure must hunt.


You might surprise why your cat insists on chasing and catching wild songbirds when she’s already well-fed at residence. But starvation isn’t the one motivation for looking. Some specialists say cats hunt as a result of they’re bored, whereas others say they do it for stimulation. While these elements might definitely play an element, the underside line is that cats are predators, and the looking intuition is just a part of their DNA. Their wild ancestors needed to hunt for his or her meals, and this primary want remains to be part of our family cats’ make-up, even once they already get a lot to eat.

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Many individuals suppose the odd lifeless songbird is innocent. But statistics present that even one kitty, if allowed free rein open air, contributes to what quantities to a devastating lack of hen life. According to the American Bird Conservancy, over a billion birds are caught by cats every year within the US alone, though a 2021 research by the Nottingham Trent University discovered that 63% of home cats within the nation are stored fully indoors.


Cats killing songbirds isn’t only a North American downside. Australia and Iceland, for instance, are additionally confronted with the same depletion of their hen species. Certain territories in Australia, and a few Icelandic cities, have chosen to sort out the problem by introducing a cat curfew that varies between the hours of 8 pm to 7 am, throughout which no home cat is allowed open air.

While this resolution is unlikely to be adopted right here, there are many different methods to forestall your cat from looking and killing songbirds:

The most evident is to maintain your cat indoors, as advocated by the ASPCA and different animal welfare organizations. Not solely does this stop your cat from killing songbirds and different wildlife, nevertheless it additionally retains her secure from risks comparable to street accidents, bigger predators, and infectious illnesses.

If you’re amongst these cat dad and mom who wish to give their kitties the liberty to go exterior, whereas additionally discovering a method to shield songbirds, there are a number of strategies to contemplate.

Some counsel placing bell collars on cats to scare away birds, though others warning the bell is probably not loud sufficient to be efficient, and may pose a danger to the cat as a result of the sound can alert bigger predators to her location. However, a research carried out within the UK demonstrated {that a} bell collar reduces a cat’s looking success by 40%, with out posing any hazard to the cat. The research additional confirmed that an digital sonic machine on a cat’s collar decreased looking success by as much as 50%. If you resolve to go this route, make sure you get a breakaway collar in case your cat will get caught on one thing throughout her travels. Keep in thoughts, nevertheless, that some cats learn to suppress the sound of their bells once they’re stalking prey!

One attention-grabbing doable resolution was devised by Ken Otter, a biologist on the University of Northern British Columbia. In an preliminary research involving 14 cats, he used high-visibility rainbow-colored collars that resembled ruffs. The vivid colours caught the 4 color-sensing receptors in birds’ eyes, alerting them to impending hazard and prompting them to fly away unhurt. You may attempt making a ruff collar from rainbow-colored cloth, however once more, be certain it’s going to come aside simply in case your cat will get it snagged on one thing.

Another different is to coach your cat to go exterior on a leash and harness. This is finest executed when the cat remains to be a kitten — grownup cats don’t often adapt effectively to sporting a harness. Make positive the harness suits effectively, so she will be able to’t wriggle out of it. It’s additionally crucial that you just go exterior along with your cat and supervise her whereas she’s on the leash. Never tether her within the yard alone, as she may get tousled within the lead, attacked by one other animal — or catch a songbird that alights inside her attain.

The American Veterinary Medical Association believes the perfect resolution is to compromise by investing in a cat enclosure or catio. These standard choices enable cats to benefit from the open air whereas staying secure, contained, and separated from the songbirds flitting round your yard. They can vary from a easy window enclosure to a spacious wonderland that includes varied ranges, foliage, and walkways.

Cats hunt greater than songbirds

A research executed by the University of Georgia, along with the National Geographic Society’s Crittercam Program, was designed to search out out what cats actually hunt when open air. The researchers strapped crittercams onto a number of home cats, then allow them to out. The subsequent footage confirmed that the cats killed a variety of wildlife, together with chipmunks, frogs, lizards, voles, small snakes — and, in fact, birds


Feline looking behaviors might rely upon the character of the person cat, in keeping with a current research carried out on the Université Paris-Saclay in France.

My personal expertise backs this up. I had a cat named Tigger who wasn’t overly excited by the presence of birds. He would simply sit curled up by the window, chattering to the birds on the garden exterior. But my different cat, Cici, would usually drop a reside hen on the lounge carpet, after which proceed to leap within the air and clutch on the curtains in an try and catch it because it frantically tried to flee. Both cats had very completely different personalities when it got here to looking,

You won’t be capable of do a lot concerning the greater points impacting songbird populations, however stopping your cat from looking and killing the birds in your personal yard is one essential manner to assist our feathered mates.

Nadia Ali is a contract author who was born in London, England and now lives on the Caribbean island of Trinidad. She is impressed by Cici, her household cat. Her work has been revealed on-line and in print.

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