can you stop cats killing birds

We recently published an article in National Wildlife magazine on the enormous, unnatural toll that free-ranging domesticated cats take on wildlife, along with a blog post about how to keep indoor cats happy and healthy so they don’t need to go outside.

If your cat goes outside and you can’t keep it indoors — which is the only 100 percent effective way to keep birds and other wildlife safe from cats — there are some things you can do to minimize the chances of it hunting wildlife. Even if you keep your own cats indoors, your neighbors might not, or you might have feral stray cats in your neighborhood. If you participate in our Garden for Wildlife program and have created a wildlife habitat garden for birds and other backyard wildlife, it is understandably both concerning and frustrating when cats show up and kill the wildlife you’ve worked so hard to help.

Here are some tips for keeping backyard birds and other wildlife safe from free-ranging domesticated cats.

It bears repeating that the only way to keep birds and other wildlife safe from domesticated cats is to keep cats indoors. All of the other tips on this list are only going to be partially effective, and only address the symptoms, not the underlying problem of the negative ecological impact that our domesticated cats have on wildlife. Remember, it’s not the fault of the cats, which are just following natural instinct, but rather an extension of human impact on our environment. We created domesticated cats and have imported them around the world in places they don’t belong and in numbers that often far exceed the numbers of native predators. It’s up to us to prevent and solve the problem.

Birds and other wildlife naturally use dense vegetation to hide from predators. A bare lawn doesn’t offer any cover. When you’re designing your garden or landscape include dense plantings of shrubs or trees, or a meadow or wildflower garden, where wildlife can hide. If you use native plants, not only will they provide cover for birds, they’ll also offer food sources and nesting places. Our Garden for Wildlife program has more tips on how to provide cover for birds and other wildlife in your yard.

Feeder and Birdbath Placement

Birds and small wildlife need cover and hiding places from cats, and at the same time they also need some open space around feeders and birdbaths to be able to spot cats before they get close enough to pounce. Place feeders and birdbaths at least ten to twelve feet away from any potential hiding places for cats.

It is responsible to remove your bird feeders to protect the birds if your backyard cats are using them as hunting areas. Make an effort to naturally feed birds by using native plants that produce berries, seeds, and insects. Native plants won’t draw hunting cats because they won’t encourage birds to gather in large numbers in one area on a daily basis, as feeders do.

can you stop cats killing birds

That insight, at least among owners of domesticated cats, appears to be slow to emerge. Less than half of the cat owners who took part in the autumn trial consented to take part in the spring trial as well. Furthermore, nearly eighty percent of study participants later declared they would never use the collar again, giving a variety of excuses including personal preference and the cats’ (perceived) discomfort.

Encouraged, she thought of a test to see if the outcomes would apply to other cats. And in the fall of 2013, a twelve-week trial revealed that the cats killed three people on average. 4 times fewer birds in a twelve-week period; they killed a staggering 19 times fewer birds in a spring trial.

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Her greatest wish, though, is that the information would force advocates who assist feral cats to give the collar a try. “At least in the United States, it appears that 70 percent of bird predation is done by feral cats.” S. ” Willson says. “I’m hoping that this will be considered a good solution by those who manage feral cat colonies.” ”.

“Hes basically a professional killer,” Willson says. I was so disgusted by him giving me two birds a week that I was looking for something that would work. ”.

Bells and Collars Aren’t the Solutions

Putting a bell on outdoor cats’ collars is one of the earliest strategies for protecting wildlife from cat attacks. Unfortunately, this doesn’t really work. Wildlife does not associate the sound of a tinkling bell with predators or other dangers. Certain collars have demonstrated some potential in reducing the amount of birds that pets eat. These collars are only partially effective and not a real solution because they rely on bright color to attract birds’ attention. Just like with bells, bright color isn’t something that wild birds associate with predators, and many types of wildlife don’t even see in color. This is especially true since they can create a false impression that they are resolving the issue of cat predation on wildlife.

Mothballs are often also recommended as a deterrent to keep cats out of your yard. Not only is this not an effective long-term solution to keep cats away, mothballs are made of toxic chemicals that should absolutely not be broadcast out in your yard.


Can cats be trained not to kill birds?

So my part of the answer is; while the hunting instinct cannot be unlearned, it can be directed. A cat can learn to except a bird as part of the family. This will not keep it from going after wild birds, but those in the shared space that are “family” can be safe.

Should I punish my cat for killing a bird?

Never punish a cat for hunting. Should the prey animal still be alive, it is advised to swiftly retrieve the animal to check for injuries. If injuries are present or suspected, the animal should be taken to a vet as quickly as possible for assessment.

What to do if your cat kills a bird?

You should not touch the bird with your bare hands. Place the bird inside a plastic bag and seal it tightly, then place the bag within a sealed bag. Dispose of the bird in your trash. As soon as possible, wash any object that came in contact with the bird.

How do you save birds from cats?

It’s a hard decision to bring your outdoor cat inside, but start now. Then set up bird feeders, birdbaths and natural cover for birds outside your cat’s favorite window. Now your cat will be happy, and the birds will stay safe! Next, check out poisonous plants every cat owner should avoid.