How to Stop Your Cat From Killing Birds!

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Here’s a shocking fact about cats and birds…
In the U.S. and Canada, more birds are killed by cats every year than by collisions with windows and buildings…in fact, cats are the #1 cause of bird deaths after habitat loss!

The number of birds killed by cats is staggering:
More than 2.5 BILLION birds are killed by cats in the U.S. alone, every year. That’s more than six times the human population of the United States, and represents a significant percentage of the total bird population in North America!!

🦉 The authors of the paper published in Nature Communications analyzed data from almost 100 scientific studies that documented cat predation on birds and mammals.

🦉 The analysis found that pet cats that are allowed to go outside kill between 1 and 34 birds per year, and feral (“unowned”) cats kill 24 to 51 birds per year. These are conservative estimates.

🦉 Predation includes small and large birds, from hummingbirds and chickadees to herons, crows, wood ducks and screech owls.

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Catio plan from Catiospaces.com

How to keep birds safe from cats!
The best thing you can do is keep your cats inside. Here are some ways to provide stimulation for indoor cats:

🐱 Provide vertical space for cats to climb and play on.

🐱 Build a catio! This gives cats access to fresh air but not to birds and other wildlife.

🐱  Present food in ways that elicit hunting behavior, such as in puzzle toys that cats have to manipulate to release the food.

🐱  Provide “cat-safe” plants and grasses, such as wheat grass.

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Photo by Quinntheislander. Creative Commons.

If you have a problem cat that can’t be kept indoors,

🐱  Try a Birdbesafe collar.  I haven’t tried these personally. However, two scientific studies showed that they reduced bird mortality by at least 50% (Hall et al., 2015; Willson et al., 2015).

The bright colors of these large collars are noticed by birds, who are alerted to the presence of the predator. Even the creator of the Birdbesafe collar, Nancy Brennan: “said she doesn’t see her collars as a pass for pet owners to let their animals live largely outdoors. Instead, she sees Birdsbesafe as an answer for people with cats that are unmanageable indoors. “This is another solution so we can keep chipping away at that problem,” she said.” (The Atlantic, 2015)

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Photo from Birdbesafe.com

This collar doesn’t protect mammals, amphibians or other animals hunted by cats.

Outside cats can become inside cats.

🐱  The Humane Society has helpful suggestions for how to bring an outside cat in and help it adjust to being an inside cat. “Plenty of stray cats have been adopted and turned into happy indoor kitties who don’t want to go out. The trick is to make the great indoors as fun and intriguing as the outdoors.”

Birds face incredible challenges…

🦉 Habitat loss, Buildings, highways, agricultural chemicals and machines, power lines, communications towers, forestry and wind turbines, not to mention climate change, these human-caused obstacles pile on the hazards birds face naturally, and they make migration much more dangerous than it already was. Let’s not let our cats cause the senseless death of these creatures who have to overcome so much just to survive each day.

Whether or not you pay attention to birds,

🦉 Their survival and human survival are interconnected. Birds pollinate food and flowers, they contribute to ecosystem regeneration by dispersing seeds, they eat pests that harm food crops and forests, they prevent disease by cleaning up our road kill, and they lift our spirits with their beauty and song. We need habitat just as birds do. If we help the birds, we help ourselves. One critical way we can help is by not letting our cats hunt birds!

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Photo by Torben7400. Creative Commons.

 

2 Comments

  • Ed Posted July 23, 2018 10:26 am

    Thank you for putting these great ideas out there for us. Wow, 2.5 Billion birds killed every year by cats, that is huge number of birds.

    • annealtor Posted July 23, 2018 11:47 pm

      Thanks for your comment, Ed! Yes, I think we can all play a part in stopping the tragic loss of birds to cats and other human-related threats.

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