Pets at the Cabin
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Felines & Birds Don't Mix

Published: June 1, 2006
Tip #5 in a series:

Keep cats inside

Sorry, cat lovers, but while your feline friends are great indoor pets, they are predators of birds and backyard wildlife. Domestic cats hunt whether they are hungry or not because their hunting instinct is independent of their need to eat.
   
How big of a problem are we talking about here? Scientists estimate that cats harm or kill hundreds of millions of birds every year in the United States. University of Wisconsin researchers estimate that cats kill 40 million birds each year in Wisconsin alone!
   
All birds that come into a yard with a prowling cat are at risk, but birds whose natural movements include time on or near the ground are most vulnerable – especially those that breed or nest on the ground. Migratory birds also are more at risk, because they are less familiar with cats and may not have learned to avoid them during migration.
   
The solution is simple: Keep cats indoors and away from birds (it’s probably better for your cat anyway).
   
Other strategies have been tried but are much less effective.
   
Failed strategy #1:
Fence off feeders from where cats can roam. As we all know, cats are pretty resourceful.
   
Failed strategy #2: Attach collar bells to your cat. Unfortunately, birds don’t necessarily associate the sound of the bell with danger. Besides, cats wearing bells can learn to silently stalk birds.
   
Failed strategy #3: De-claw your cat. Cats manage to injure birds even with this impediment.
   
Again, the single, most effective strategy is to just keep your cat indoors and away from wild birds.
   
You can enjoy feeding wild birds and you can enjoy your cat. Just keep them separate.

For More Information

•  “6 Steps to Turn Your Yard Into a Sanctuary for Birds,” www.backyardbirdcare.org. Philosophy created and endorsed by the Wild Bird Feeding Industry, www.wbfi.org.

•  Cats Indoors! Campaign, www.abcbirds.org/cats.
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