Cats are naturally inclined to watch, stalk and try to catch any "prey" they see, such as the birds in your backyard. You must take steps to protect the birds from your cat unless you look forward to receiving a dead bird as a "prize" on your front porch. Here's how to keep your cat from killing birds:
- Keep your cat inside. The only surefire method to keeping your cat from killing birds is to keep him away from them by keeping him inside. Indoor cats can still practice their hunting skills, but on toys, not on live birds. If you do let your cat outside to play or roam around, try not to do it around dawn. This is when the birds in your backyard will be most active, and when your cat is most likely to catch them.
- Use a collar with a bell. Your indoor-outdoor cat should already be wearing a collar for identification purposes. Simply add a small bell to the collar. It will sound as the cat moves, not matter how slowly he tries to creep towards the birds. This warning gives your backyard birds enough time to get away from your cat. A bell is an excellent option for those who want to let their cat outside but have a yard that is too large for them to watch their cat closely all of the time. It is simple and effective, and doesn't require constant work on your part.
- Arrange your yard wisely. Make it more difficult for your cat to kill birds by keeping him away from bird feeders and birdbaths. Plant bushes and plants in areas that are away from bird attractions so your cat can't hide there to kill birds. Arranging chicken wire around bird feeders and baths can also keep your cat away. Bird feeders should be positioned high in the air, away from anything your cat can climb up to reach the feeder. If your feeders are on posts, choose PVC or metal ones, not wooden ones that your cat can climb up.
- Trim your cat's claws. With trimmed claws, your cat will find it harder to climb up fences or other objects to reach the birds, and will be less likely to catch them if he does get close. Do not declaw your cat, which is painful for them. If you don't want to cut his nails routinely, you can get soft covers for your cat's claws that will have the same effect.
- Care for injured birds. If you do find any injured birds in your yard, contact the nearest wildlife rehabilitation center for instructions on what to do with it. With your care, you may be able to keep the bird alive and return it to your yard.
Having a cat is a lot of fun, except when they start bringing home dead birds that they've captured in your yard. While your cat may still occasionally catch a bird, these steps will greatly reduce your cat's ability to kill your backyard birds.