How to stop your cat from catching birds

stop your cat from catching birds

Cold blooded killer?

It can be difficult to think of your sleek tortoiseshell or your affectionate tabby as a cold-blooded killer, but, unfortunately for cat owners, our purring, feline friends are hard-wired to behave like lean, mean killing machines when prowling the wilderness of the backyard and beyond.

To a certain extent, owners must accept that this kind of behaviour is in kitty’s nature, and it really doesn’t mean they are a bad cat. Hunting is just what they were born to do. However, there are things you can – and arguably should – do to minimise the hunting behaviour. After all, Kiwis might love their cats, but we love our birds too. Not everything your cat catches and kills will be a pest, and plus, who really enjoys cleaning carcasses up from the kitchen doormat at 7am?

Here are some measures you can take to reduce (or, if you’re lucky, even prevent) your cats unwanted habits from occurring:

1.    Feed your cat

This one is a bit of a no-brainer. We hope you are feeding your cat anyway! But ensuring they are getting enough to eat and not missing out on meals is also important for those wishing to stop their cat from catching birds. While we can’t promise that a fulfilling diet alone will be enough to stop your cat from hunting, it is certainly true to say that a hungry cat will be far more likely to go out in search of prey. Also, when a well-fed cat catches an animal, there is a much better chance that they will simply ‘play’ with it rather than delivering that final fatal kill-bite.

2.    Restrict access to outdoors

This does not mean you need to keep your cat indoors permanently, however there are certain times of the day in which bird life is more active. If you can, it’s a good idea to lock the cat flap (with your cat on the inside!) during these hours. Around an hour before sunset and an hour after sunrise are the times that birds will often come out to feed, as well as any time following spells of bad weather. If possible, keep your cat indoors all night to be on the safe side and to sidestep all those delightful dawn gifts. Be especially aware during springtime when vulnerable baby birds are leaving their nests.

3.    Think about your garden’s layout

If you have bird feeders or baths in your garden, place these in high up areas where cats are less likely to venture. If you have an adventurous kitty who is likely to climb up to even the most out-of-reach spots, consider planting a prickly bush underneath the temptation, or removing it all together.

4.    Entertainment is key

A bored cat will go out and make its own fun – and there are no prizes for guessing what that looks like. A savvy cat owner knows that time spent playing with their pet is not just about having fun (though that’s important too!). Even 15 minutes of active human interaction a day will go a long way towards keeping kitty stimulated and satisfied, meaning she will be less likely to go off in search of more troublesome ways to pass the time. Providing toys and scratching posts for the times you are not playing with your pet is a good move, too.

5.    Jingle bells

One of the easiest and most effective methods of minimising or eliminating the bird killing problem is by giving your cat a collar with a bell. Studies have shown that this nifty trick reduces a cat’s bird catching rate by up to 40%!

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