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How to keep my cat from killing birds

Posted by phish (My Page) on
Mon, Jun 11, 12 at 12:32

Does anyone have any secrets for how to keep their cats from killing birds around their house. My cat hasn't done it yet but I can tell he's getting closer. I really don't want to give him a bell collar since I don't want to hear him ringing all day long all over the house (not to mention I do like it when he kills mice in the house).

Any other advice for how to save my neighborhood birds?


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: How to keep my cat from killing birds

My gut is saying no and I'm usually very optimistic when it comes to training, but the reason I'm not in this case is because its a natural instinct for them to be like that.

We had two cats (one past last July from cancer) and the other is 19 now and on his last leg, but they've been around our cockatiels for many many years and have never shown an interest in harming them . It was as if they knew the birds were part of the family so it was different. However, if they saw a wild bird land on the deck they were immediately in a pouncing position and ready to strike.


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RE: How to keep my cat from killing birds

Easy, keep the cat in the house.


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RE: How to keep my cat from killing birds

It's prey drive. My cat stays in the house and kills her toys and the occasional mouse. It's safer for her to be indoors anyway.


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RE: How to keep my cat from killing birds

You could take his bell collar off when he comes back into the house :)

My outdoor kitty doesn't wear a collar but hardly ever gets a bird and she's a grand hunter. The few times she's gotten one, she caught them when they perched on something low in the yard. Once it was from a low growing bush and another time she caught a finch eating coreposis seed off the plant. It helps if you make your yard less bird friendly (like not feeding them). I have a bird bath but it's out in the open so kitty can't sneak-attack. If you look around your yard, you might see some problematic areas that can be corrected to reduce bird loss.


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RE: How to keep my cat from killing birds

You have gotten some very respectful answers on a very HOT topic. My answer is your cat should not be outside unattended, not only for the birds sake but that of your cat to. I love cats and have 4 of my own (indoor only). I also have a bird sanctuary & small pond outside and am furious when others allow their cats to wonder and invade my property. I have the right to a cat free yard! Thank you for being concerned, but unless you have a need for a cat outside (as in a barn cat) they should be kept in.


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RE: How to keep my cat from killing birds

When I was growing up, my mother kept outdoor cats, one of which was quite the bird hunter. She got him a collar with bells all around and he quickly learned to chase and catch birds, without the collar making enough sound to alert the birds. I'm not sure a bell collar will work for very long.

I don't know the solution to your problem. When I was a kid, finding dead birds outside the door was just part of life- as much as it disgusted me. It's what cats do when they get to be outside.


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RE: How to keep my cat from killing birds

My cats have all been indoor/outdoor and all but one lived into their twenties, a fact I attribute to the healthy aspects of outdoor access (sun, plants, and a partial natural prey diet.) However as Kittens suggested you can maximize the chances of survival for the birds about your yard by not feeding them and by removing cover from around places where the birds gather so they can see kitty's approach. I can probably count on my fingers the birds my cats have killed over the past 40 years. Cats, as a general rule, kill far more rodents than birds.


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RE: How to keep my cat from killing birds

My solution is to keep your cat indoors. There is no good reason for him to be outside. It's a dangerous world out there. I have four cats which never have been out in their entire lives and they live very well. I have a wildlife sanctuary in my backyard with ponds and bees hives and a gazillion birds which I love . I would never attract birds to have them killed my by cats. I even tether my one dog, a prey driven Dachshund. The other dog runs free since he chases nothing(but balls)


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RE: How to keep my cat from killing birds

Thanks all. There are some good ideas here so hopefully I can use them to save the birds from my cat.


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RE: How to keep my cat from killing birds

A 25 pound bell?

Lisa said it all. You have a choice here.


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RE: How to keep my cat from killing birds

There is no way that you can train it to not do that. Most outdoor cats love to hunt. It's apart of their nature. And when they kill stuff and bring it to you or leave it out where you can see it, its a sign of huge respect that they have for you. Just bring your cat inside if you can't deal with it.


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RE: How to keep my cat from killing birds

I have five cats that are indoor/outdoor and I have bird feeders in my yard. Between all of the cats, they may kill a couple birds all year. I've also had four other cats in the past - same thing.
I just tell them "no" and correct them every time they go after a bird. They still enjoy watching, but don't kill. I believe I've been successful in training them not to kill the birds, bc I have not trained them not to kill rodents, and they get plenty of those.
I work f/t and have an active social life, so this isn't a 24/7 training exercise.
If you do let your cats outside, please be out there with them and only during the daytime. You may or may not know that cats are prey to coyotes and great horned owls. And don't think coyotes are only in the country. I've seen just as many in the city.
When I lived in the country, I always made sure to hold off feeding the cats at "night" until I'd gotten them all safely in the house. I made sure to start collecting them before it got dark, bc after that, not only did they take off, but they were harder to see.
Now, I have a small yard, a cat fence and a cat/doggie door - so much easier.


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RE: How to keep my cat from killing birds

Very dangerous for cats to be outside. One day years ago I went out to my pond to find a dead tabby cat floating. The policeman came and took him away, and I always wondered who was waiting for their cat to come home because he had no collar or ID.

My Dachshund has a bell on his collar because he's a sneak. It doesn't bother me, I don't know if it bothers him.

A few days ago I found the female cardinal that lives in my yard year round dead at the feeder. Someone let their cat out at night and early in the morning , she was killed. The male sang for her for days. I know there was a nest of babies somewhere that died. If cats were kept indoors, this wouldn't happen.


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RE: How to keep my cat from killing birds

"A few days ago I found the female cardinal that lives in my yard year round dead at the feeder. Someone let their cat out at night and early in the morning , she was killed. The male sang for her for days. I know there was a nest of babies somewhere that died. If cats were kept indoors, this wouldn't happen."

That's no guarantee. There are many predators out there besides cats that eat birds
I agree that indoors is safer for cats in general and especially in urban situations. While many people will chime in with stories of cats who have lived outdoors and are still alive, those who have lost cats that way may not be so eager to say so.


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RE: How to keep my cat from killing birds

Ive said it before and I'll say it again --- and Ill keep on until people maybe start to LISTEN.

Cats CAN be penned, there are numerous websites describing how. If you have a cat like one of mine - so obsessed with being outdoors that they will literally rip out screens and jump off of 2nd floor roofs - then the cat pen is a good alternative. Yes, they will try like mad to escape the pen but once they know they can't - they settle down and in fact my Orange seems to like the security of being enclosed but yet able to be in the fresh air and roll in the dirt. And thats what he spends a lot of time doing -he just rolls and rolls and rolls.

If a bird happens to fly in and become Orange's lunch, well, so be it... but at least he's not wandering the neighborhood raiding nests.

Just tired of these either-or debates, when there are other options. People spend lots of good money on their pets - fences for dogs, etc. Why not cats?


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RE: How to keep my cat from killing birds

A pen would not be an option here. Rising animal theft means I don't leave my dogs outside unattended for more that a few minutes any more. Again, urban situations differ from 'out in the country'.
I agree, with thought, various options are often available, but without enough thought, they may not be what one is looking for.


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RE: How to keep my cat from killing birds

I am confused. You can't pen your dog or cat because you are afraid they'll be stolen? But you let the cat roam?

There's no trick to it. Cats go out = they kill birds. Cats inside = they do not kill any birds. Your choice = continue to let the cat outside even though it will kill the birds you want to protect. Just embrace the fact that you are deciding that it's OK that your cat kills birds, since you will not do the only things that will prevent it. The birds are not as important as your cat being outside.


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RE: How to keep my cat from killing birds

I've never heard of putting a cat in a pen but it's a great idea.


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RE: How to keep my cat from killing birds

Aside from the obvious... maybe you could build a screened in porch onto your house so they can enjoy the air but not have access to the birds. :)


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RE: How to keep my cat from killing birds

"I can probably count on my fingers the birds my cats have killed over the past 40 years"

with all due respect, you're gonna need more fingers. during breeding season, for every female songbird that is killed by a cat, very likely there will be a nest of baby birds that will starve to death. so, for every female songbird killed, add another 5-7 baby birds that will never fledge.


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RE: How to keep my cat from killing birds

We have a couple of great horned owls in our neighborhood that enjoy loose cats for a snack. They sure took care of the feral cats that once roamed freely. Also have a coyote or two and we live in the middle of the Dallas/Ft.Worth Metroplex. Very often see signs about a lost cat. House cats don't get lost. Sure enjoy ninepearl's logic about cats doing a service to prevent birds starving to death.


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RE: How to keep my cat from killing birds

If your cat is outside, it's going to kill birds. You won't be able to stop it. As stated, cats kill rodents much more often, but they also kill birds on occasion. It happens. If you don't want your cat killing birds, keep it inside.


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RE: How to keep my cat from killing birds

"Sure enjoy ninepearl's logic about cats doing a service to prevent birds starving to death."

texasredhead, i think you misunderstood what i meant. go read my post again. if you think i meant that it's ok for cats to kill birds, you are sorely mistaken.

let me make it a little simpler for you...

songbird builds nest, lays eggs, eggs hatch. baby birds.

cat comes along and either grabs mother bird off of nest or stalks her under the bird feeders till she succeeds in catching/killing the mother songbird.

with no mother songbird to feed the young (not many male wild birds feed their young while they are still in the nest), you will have a nest full of baby BIRDS that will starve, not the damn cat.

there, was that clear? **eye roll**


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RE: How to keep my cat from killing birds

Actually in most species, both bird parents feed the young while in the nest and take turns sitting on the eggs before they hatch. If either parent is killed, the surviving parent will do its best to rear the babies on its own, and they often succeed. Certainly it places a hardship on the surviving parent but it is not an automatic death sentence for the young.

I have witnessed many generations of birds (barn swallows, tree swallows, house finches, and eastern blue birds) nesting on our front porch and in our bird house, and in all these species parenting duties are equally shared responsibilities.

House finches are particularly strategic in their reproductive endeavors. We had a pair this summer build a nest and hatch a brood which the male looked after solely while his mate went on to raise a second brood in a second nest the pair had built earlier. The male finch successfully reared the first brood by himself and then shared domestic duties with his mate with the second brood. I'm told this is common behavior in this species. Birds are quite resourceful and not routinely hapless victims.

While birds are nesting on the porch I do keep my cat indoors until the babies have fledged. Our property has been home to many generations of birds. The swampy area surrounding our brook is a bird sanctuary of sorts. Our cat and the neighbor's cats have not decimated or made any perceptible negative impact on the profuse avian life around us. There are many predators that kill birds, of which cats are but one.


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RE: How to keep my cat from killing birds

Spedigree, if a male bird is killed while the female is brooding hatchlings, she will have to leave the nest to feed the babies before they are feathered enough to keep warm. They won't survive.

Not it is not impossible for a female to do it alone, but it lowers the success of the nest for sure.


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RE: How to keep my cat from killing birds

Keeping the cat indoors is the only way. My cat has never been out. Cats kill millions of birds every year, so I'm glad you're trying to figure out how to prevent the problem!


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RE: How to keep my cat from killing birds

Every once and a while, some of these strings defy all logic. This one certainly fills that bill.


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RE: How to keep my cat from killing birds

Two of my cats go into an outdoor pen. They love it! I'd never restrict my cats to "only" indoor pets as long as I have the space. I have a cat door going into the basement. I put another cat door in my basement window (the window replacement shop can do it for you). They have a couple of bins to jump up on to reach the window. It happens to be under the deck so I screened the underside of the deck in so they have a big space. I also set a dog kennel up right against the deck and made a hole in the side without the door for them to walk through. This way they can be in sun or shade and also have height from the kennel. A tree had fallen so I put a couple of long logs in it which they jump up on and do their manicures on. I can't tell you how much they enjoy going in and out! Everyday they are excited to run out there after breakfast. There's a couple of drawbacks (mice in the house lol and you have to flea control) but the quality of life for them is worth it to me. They were initially "indoor-only" until I rigged up a pen for them. I noticed an immediate difference in them after a couple of days.
If you look on-line there's tons of really great cat enclosures and cat walks. Some of them are very elaborate and pricy. It's a good compromise for those of you that don't like roaming cats. You just need to use your imagination a little to figure out how to get them to the enclosure.

Betsyhac - If you happened to catch this post, can you tell me what kind of cat fence you have?


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RE: How to keep my cat from killing birds

Hi Kittens,
I bought mine from Purrfectfence, but they are a bit pricey. I think that there are plenty of other sites on the net that show you how to make your own. I'm attaching a link to one of them. Look at Purrfectfence to get an idea what you need, and make sure it's tall enough. For me, at the time, Purrfectfence was the answer, as I didn't have a lot of time. None of my cats try to get out - only once, when one of them climbed up a tree and jumped either over or to another tree. After that I scrunched up some of the wire fencing up around the tree so they could only go so high. If you have any other questions, feel free to email me (see "My Page").
Betsy

Here is a link that might be useful: Cat Proof Your Yard on Instructables.com


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RE: How to keep my cat from killing birds

Thank you, Betsy! That's a good link with a really good idea. I looked at the Purrfect fence years ago. I wondered how it really worked. My yard was too big for the cost plus I have about 30 some trees! I'm looking at new homes now with smaller yards and you know my first thought is going toward the cats lol. I prefer stockade for my own privacy but I was wondering how to make something that didn't look too unsightly. I've been googling and haven't come across anything like you posted. (Bet it might camouflage better with black fencing, too).

To stay on topic so I don't steal the thread (sorry phish) - I was watching an old National Geographic tonight all about cats. One of the ladies on the show was both a cat owner and a birder. She said she didn't let her Siamese out until after 10:00 am. Her birds usually fed in the morning so that cut down on casualties. On the show, the Brits did a 6 month study where outdoor cat owners kept a log of the 'treats' brought home for them. Mice and little ground critters took the lead over birds.


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RE: How to keep my cat from killing birds

kittens/betsy, I dont think this is off topic at all - on the contrary, its all very helpful IMHO to frame any issue as more than just EITHER-OR. Like there's only 2 choices, keep them in the house NEVER enjoying the sun/fresh air, OR let them roam freely. There ARE other options!

I built my fence out of plastic deerfence + ten foot metal poles that are sold to go on chainlink fence (the top, horizontal piece). I put in in vertical using as a fence post, setting it into a 3-4 foot post hole. Total cost = about $270 for 100 feet. My cats are not athletic so they havent attempted to climb - because the plastic is wobbly they cant really get a grip to climb it. If you do have a master gymnast/escape artist, then you would have to go to the type of fence which arches inward at an angle (like a maximum security prison fence) to prevent cat from climbing up and over . That works out to a cost of $9 per cat per year for 15 years (2 cats x 15 yr ea. x $9 = $270)

Watching the enjoyment on a cats face as he rolls in the dirt while at the same time knowing he is safe - priceless.


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RE: How to keep my cat from killing birds

If you cannot afford a fence, or build one, and you continue to let your cat out, you are making a choice. Very simple.

Or: keep the cat in until the fence is built.


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RE: How to keep my cat from killing birds

Hey Elly,
Are you a vegan?


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RE: How to keep my cat from killing birds

I agree with the others. Stop letting your cat out to kill the wildlife. And possibly be killed herself by the many dangers outdoors.

I saw two dead cats on the side of the road just this week. I bet their owners swore up and down that they'd never go near a road. And I bet they didn't until the day they were hit by cars.


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RE: How to keep my cat from killing birds

And I saw three lost cats signs on my walk yesterday. Something that never happens to indoor cats unless they hide in a cupboard like one of mine did last week. She eventually appeared in her own good time. If left my cats out I would freeze with anxiety every time I heard a screech of tires, or I called and they didn't come in. Absolutely in a million years would never let my four out. But then again none of them want out, never go to the door. Why would they? They have a life that most of my friends said they want to be reincarnated as.


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RE: How to keep my cat from killing birds

In my first house we had an elderly neighbor with a fierce cat. He tangled with porcupines and ran off dobermans. His name was Fluffy.

One day we were visiting neighbor and she asked her son to fill the bird feeder outside. I must have looked shocked,and said, "You feed the birds? But doesn't Fluffy...?"

She looked at me and said, "He only gets the weak ones, dear."

The female cardinal above could well have hit a window and died. Many, if not most cats would have carried off the carcass or at least made a pretense of eating it. Birds die from collisions with windows, buildings and cars. Hawks eat birds, weasels, owls, fishers, foxes, and coyotes eat birds. The mortality rate of birds is absurdly high, some species 90%, which is why they may raise more than one clutch per breeding season.

My simple cat doesn't go outside. The smarter, declawed one only goes out with me when I have my morning coffee or evening beer. I do have two acres for him to run on, and in ten or fifteen minutes I can scoop him up and carry him in. He's not happy about going in, but he usually is ready to flop down on the floor and rest.

Simple cat cannot be reliably retrieved.


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RE: How to keep my cat from killing birds

It sounds cruel, but let him eat the birds. It's natural. Plus, the reason indoor cats have many health issues is because they re not eating the giblets that they're supposed to be eating. It's just how it's supposed to be. Someone mentioned the owl eating the cats... it's the food chain. I don't know why everyone gets so whipped up about cats eating birds. Everything comes full circle and back to nature. One day everyone will probably feeding their cats birds... Remember years back when breast feeding was looked down on? It's just what's trending now...


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RE: How to keep my cat from killing birds

How in the world is it "natural" for a species not native to this ecosystem to eat an animal that is native to this ecosystem and hasn't co-adapted to it in order to have any real defense against it? Not to mention how cats are fed at home and vetted and therefor, have an additional unfair advantage to birds at the mercy of their wild ecosystem.


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RE: How to keep my cat from killing birds

Here's a few OTHER reasons why no cat of mine will ever be an outdoor animal : fleas, mites, ticks, heart and lung worms, tape worms, round worms, and hook worms.


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RE: How to keep my cat from killing birds

Why do people think it's neglect to let dogs, especially large ones, roam around at large? But people don't seem to feel the same way when it comes to cats?

Cats are domestic animals. They're pets, unless they're working in a barn for pest clearance. What is a pet doing roaming at large? If you don't want your pet in the home with you, why get a pet??

Life indoors does NOT have to be cruel or even boring. Enrichment goes a long way to providing physical and mental happiness but for some reason, a lot of cat owners have no interest in it and would rather let their cats face whatever may happen outdoors.

Outdoor cats CAN be successfully introduced to indoor only life. It may take some work, but it's worth it.

Life outdoors for a DOMESTIC pet isn't any more natural than a life indoors.

I just don't understand why some people insist on putting their cats outside.


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RE: How to keep my cat from killing birds

Our cats are working cats. They keep the rodent population down while they are eating what cats are meant to eat. If they catch an occasional bird, that bird was not strong or smart enough to stay alive. (Cats don't fly.) It is seldom that any one of them catches a bird.

We supplement their outdoor hunting with kibble but they eat little of it in the months when game is plentiful. They all come inside regularly for 'lap time' but not one of them would be happy being an indoor only cat. (The outdoor bathroom is preferable to the litter box for both them and me.)

Once a kitten reaches a year old, it is smart enough to stay safe. For this reason, we don't have them neutered until they are 8-12 mos. old. Coyotes are numerous around us but they can't climb trees.

As far as fleas, mites, worms etc., I put apple cider vinegar in their water daily to repel those critters. It works. All seven of them are sleek, strong and very healthy with lovely coats.


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RE: How to keep my cat from killing birds

as noted in previous posts, this is a controversial topic. however, i'm amazed by the lack of respect shown by both sides. a 25 lb bell? oh well if birdie becomes lunch? how about this, people can exist happily together and have different points of view (indoor vs. outdoor cats) if they actually WANT to respect each other. it seem to me that the person who started this link actually WANTED to make amends for their cat killing a bird - this is how I too found this discussion, and yet the advice focused on berating them for their lifestyle/view. my cat was abandoned, she spent months outdoors, i know because i contacted the original owners, so she is a real outdoor cat, plus our apartment is tiny. additionally, she acts as the neighborhood mayor and is very affectionate - she gives many neighbors pleasure / cuddles (possibly in the hopes of a snacky snack, but hey that is a cat for you).

since you can't CHANGE people, nor should you want to if you have respect for each other, how about advising owners of bird killers about what they can do to make amends for every bird killed? it appears that we can't feed birds in our yard (which was my initial thought, make amends by increasing the bird population by providing food), but perhaps we bird killer owners could give $$$ to a bird sanctuary? or feed the birds in a neighbors yard?

rather than insisting that someone have your viewpoint, can't we find a way to live together and keep our way of life? perhaps not an "eye for an eye", but some "punishment" that fits the crime? isn't there SOME task other than becoming something that we are not that will appease the (indoor cat owner/dead bird) gods?


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RE: How to keep my cat from killing birds

"lisa11310 (My Page) on Tue, Jun 12, 12 at 0:39
You have gotten some very respectful answers on a very HOT topic. My answer is your cat should not be outside unattended, not only for the birds sake but that of your cat to. I love cats and have 4 of my own (indoor only). I also have a bird sanctuary & small pond outside and am furious when others allow their cats to wonder and invade my property. I have the right to a cat free yard! Thank you for being concerned, but unless you have a need for a cat outside (as in a barn cat) they should be kept in."


This is a great comment. I completely agree with it.


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RE: How to keep my cat from killing birds

I agree with that also. We have some cats roaming at large on my property. Not my cats. They make my dogs bark, leave dead and dying wildlife around (I've also created natural habitats for WILD life), leave crap on my walk way and are nuisances in just so many other ways. They're not my pets, I don't know why I should have them forced on me.


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RE: How to keep my cat from killing birds

I have a simple and inexpensive solution that the cats tolerate quite well. I tied 4 brightly colored ribbons onto their collars. Cut them short enough so that they don't get into the food when the cats are eating. I try to turn the collar so the ribbons are on their topside when I feed the cats. I avoided red ribbons because hummingbirds apparently are attracted to red. When the ribbons get dirty, wash them or get put on new ones. The kitties look very cute and don't seem to be bothered by the Bird Awareness Ribbons. We haven't seen any feathers in the yard since the ribbons went on over 9 months ago.


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RE: How to keep my cat from killing birds

"Once a kitten reaches a year old, it is smart enough to stay safe. For this reason, we don't have them neutered until they are 8-12 mos. old."

I have no idea what this means. What is the reason that you don't have them neutered until they're 8 to 12 months old? What does learning to be safe have to do with being neutered later than the maturity age? And, by the way, your cats must be having a litter after litter of kittens if you don't have them neutered until then.


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RE: How to keep my cat from killing birds

"Once a kitten reaches a year old, it is smart enough to stay safe. For this reason, we don't have them neutered until they are 8-12 mos. old."

We can barely afford the neuter fee so like to make sure the cat is going to be alive and kicking for awhile before we invest. ($200 here ----- or a 4 hr. round trip to the city for $35 ea.)


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RE: How to keep my cat from killing birds

If you can't afford to neuter a cat, you simply shouldn't have one. And I wish whomever hadn't resurrected this thread.


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RE: How to keep my cat from killing birds

Cats are predators, and they are biologically coded to catch and kill mice and small birds.

I don't think there's much you can do to stop this behavior if you are not okay with your cat wearing a little bell.

An outside cat enclosure would probably do the trick, but that would cost a bit. Besides, I, for one, wouldn't want to keep my cat locked in cage.


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RE: How to keep my cat from killing birds

My cats could care less for the bigger birds (cockatiels)...not interested at all!, no problem!

But my wannabe huntress is fascinated with smaller birds (canaries and finches). She definitely has gotten better though over the years. I do note that she is less interested in any bird in a cage than one outside...they both have very limited and supervised outdoor time. If they are adequately stimulated, they will leave the caged birds alone...in my experience.


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RE: How to keep my cat from killing birds

Someone here said 'if you can't afford a cat, you shouldn't have one'. Hmmm ---- we never went out of our way to get a cat. People drop them off because we are a farm and they just figure we will take care of them. We do. And we absorb the expense if we can.

But as far as cats killing birds - the weak will become lunch. Cats can't fly.


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RE: How to keep my cat from killing birds

I'm curious if anyone has tried a cat bib? They look ridiculous but if it works, that's all that matters. Yes it can be harmful to keep cats outside but that is not what the originial poster asked about. I'm a bird lover and If this thing works it would be a great solution to OP's problem.

http://catgoods.com/catbib-sizes/

Anyone try this?

Here is a link that might be useful: Cat Bibs


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