Cat Got Your Bird
At ENN, we are a big fan of our feathered friends (Big Bird and Tweety included). Last year we posted 2 articles on our blog discussing strategies for feeding and interacting with the birds you might find in your back yard. In this article I plan to focus on the wild bird’s greatest nemesis, and one of human’s closest friends, the domestic outdoor cat .
|Gang of murderers|
Dr. Thomas found that hunting behaviors vary among cats. In a survey of pet owners, 22 percent of owners said that their cats never brought them dead animals and only 20 percent of cats brought back greater than four dead animals a year. The study found an average of 18.3 kills per cat, meaning, a small minority of cats is responsible for a majority of the killings
Thomas is most worried about the effect of cats in urban environments. ‘The density of cats in urban environments is the biggest issue,’ Thomas says. ‘Even if a cat isn’t killing often, there are so many of them in a small area that they can have a very serious impact. Owners might think their cats only catch two or three birds a year and that won’t make any difference, but they need to understand all the other pressures that wildlife is under from habitat loss and environmental change.’
So what can we do to protect the birds?
Please keep your cats indoors. Banning cats from the outdoors is an efficient way to “keep cats off the streets”. The practice of sterilizing outdoor cats is extremely useful in controlling stray cat populations in urban areas. A less intrusive option could be requiring outdoor cats to wear bells. Bells can reduce hunting effectiveness (though some cats learn to compensate for the bells).
I know from experience that public ordinances relating to animals are hard to maintain, so it is up to individual cat owners to take some responsibility for their pet’s potential behaviors.