Untold numbers of birds are killed by pet cats each year. Cats love to watch, stalk, and catch the birds in their backyards. If you don't want your cat to kill your backyard birds, you'll need to take steps to protect the birds from him. Here's how to keep your cat from catching birds:
- Keep your cat indoors. This is the only sure way to keep cats from catching birds. Any time you let your cat outside, there is a danger that he will catch a bird. Let your indoor cats practice their hunting skills on toys, not live birds. It is especially important to keep your cat inside near dawn, when the birds in your backyard will be most active.
- Put bells on your cats. Whenever you let your cats outside, be sure they are wearing collars with two small bells. These bells will jingle as the cat moves, alerting the birds to his presence. Though cats will often learn to creep along the ground in ways that will keep the bell from ringing, it still provides a little warning for the birds, giving time for them to fly away from your cat's grasp.
- Advise neighbors of the issue. If your neighbor's cat never brings their bird as a "prize" to your neighbor's door, your neighbor may not be aware that her cat is catching birds. Offer to purchase collars and bells for neighbor's cats to keep them from catching birds.
- Plan your yard to prevent cats from catching birds. Make it more difficult for cats to hide near bird feeders or birdbaths by planting your bushes and plants at least a few feet away from any bird attractions. Chicken wire around bird feeders or baths can also keep cats out. Place the bird feeders high in the air, out of cats' reach, and station them away from windowsills, fences, or branches the cats could use to reach the feeder. Feeders should be placed on stakes that are made from metal or smooth plastic, not wood that cats can climb.
- Care for injured birds. If you notice any injured birds in your yard, contact a bird rehabilitation organization to obtain the proper care for them.
- Use smell deterrents. If you want to keep cats away from your backyard or garden entirely, use smell deterrents. For example, cats don't like the smell of some plants. They also do not like citrus smells. You can plant certain plants that will deter cats, or spray your garden with citronella sprays, which have a citrus scent.
Hunting is a natural instinct for cats, but you don't want them to harm all of your backyard birds. By keeping cats and birds apart and taking steps to warn the birds of the cats' presence, you can keep cats from catching birds.