POLL: Should we prevent our cats from killing birds?

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The only sure way to prevent pet cats from killing birds is to keep them inside or to walk them outdoors on a leash. These methods are encouraged by veterinarians, animal welfare groups and environmentalists.

Yet, less than half of the estimated 73 million cats in the United States live indoors according to the National Wildlife Federation. Some owners feel that it’s not natural for cats to be kept inside while others believe their would be unhappy if not allowed to explore the outdoors.

Whatever the reason, by outdoor cats on birds and other wildlife is a real and legitimate concern according to the HSUS. Experts say that a cat’s prey drive is so strong that even well-fed cats may naturally enjoy birds or other small mammals.

Photo credit: Thinkstock
Animal Welfare Groups Work Together to Help Birds and Cats

At the Portland Audubon’s Wildlife Care Center, nearly 40 percent of the birds brought in for treatment are either caught by cats, orphaned by cats or are fledglings “rescued” by the public to prevent imminent cat predation. Over the past 20 years, the Center has treated more than 20,000 cat-caught animals, representing more than 100 local species.

The Audubon Society of Portland and the Coalition of Oregon along with other area animal shelters have joined together to form the Cats Safe at Home program. The program encourages local residents not to allow their pet cats to roam free. The mission of the campaign is to bring the community together toward a safer and healthier environment for both cats and wildlife. Local residents who are hesitant about confining their cats are encouraged to install catios (cat patios). These enclosures are typically decorated with old tree stumps and perches for climbing and scratching, planters with cat-friendly turf and other vegetation, tarps to provide shade and protection from the elements and a ladder for access to and from the house.

Protecting Birds at Backyard Feeders

Experts at Wild Birds Unlimited encourage homeowners who want to set up bird feeders to bring their cats indoors. Feeders can be set up near a window so cats can enjoy watching the birds without attacking them. Here are other tips for protecting birds in your yard and at your feeder:

  • If you have a feeder and an indoor/outdoor cat, try letting him or her out between noon and 4 p.m. when bird activity at the feeders is the lowest.
  • If a neighbor’s cat is stalking birds at your feeder, try working out a compromise to help protect the birds.
  • Set up some barriers around your feeders such as a chain-link fence.
  • Keep feeding stations 20 feet or more away from brush piles or bushes where cats can hide.
  • Try to keep bird seed off of the ground so as to discourage ground feeders who may be easy prey for your cat.

Find out when common birds in your yard may be fledging and try to confine your cat more than usual at those times. Fledglings are just learning to fly and are easy prey for cats.

Products Designed to Deter Cats from Killing Birds

A number of products have been designed by companies and individuals to help deter outdoor cats from killing birds. They include collars with bells that alert birds to a cat’s presence. A product called CatAlert that produces a beeping sound every seven seconds making it difficult for a cat to go undetected by its prey. The CatBib, designed by Cat Goods Inc., is a hanging colored bib that is attached to a cat’s collar. The bib offers a visual cue that the cat is on the prowl and serves as a physical barrier to the cat’s paw when he attempts to attack his prey.

In 2015 the Global Ecology and Conservation Journal published the results of a study on Birdsbesafe, a brightly-colored cat collar cover. The two-season field study used a research team at the University and cat-owning volunteers from the community and concluded that the Birdsbesafe collar cover reduced bird fatalities by 87 percent.

A study that published in the Global Ecology and Conservation Journal concluded that Birdsbesafe cat collar covers reduced bird fatalities by 85 percent.Image credit: Harry Duns via Birdsbesafe

The collar is the creation of Nancy Brennan, a bird watcher, and bird lover, who was heartbroken every time her husband’s cat, George, came through the cat door with a bird. It was when George brought home a ruffed grouse that Brennan decided it was time to stop the killing.

“For four years George had been going out at will through his cat door,” said Brennan, a Vermont resident. “I felt he would have been inconsolable if we forced him to stay inside.”

Having read that song birds see bright colors Brennan decided to sew a colorful cotton tube of brightly-colored fabric to cover George’s breakaway collar hoping it would make it easier for the birds to see him when he was stalking. It worked!

“George didn’t catch any birds the first day, week or month,” Brennan said. “He had always brought his prey through the cat door to us, so the difference was dramatic.”

George didn’t seem to mind wearing the collar cover or the change in his lifestyle. He even started sleeping in at dawn, instead of hunting. In the next 18 months, over two summers, George caught maybe two or three birds, Brennan said. She launched Birdsbesafe in 2009 and after the study published her sales really began to pick up. She is excited to hear success stories from her customers throughout the U.S., Canada and Europe.

“I didn’t start this business because I want people to leave their cats out,” Brennan said. “I would love if everyone kept their cats inside. I see this as a positive step towards ending a problem that’s larger than I personally know how to solve.”

This article was first published by Care2.com on 17 Aug 2017.

We invite you to share your opinion whether we should prevent our cats from killing birds? Please vote and leave your comments at the bottom of this page.

Should we prevent our cats from killing birds?

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Editorial Comment: The purpose of this poll is to highlight important wildlife conservation issues and to encourage discussion on ways to stop . By leaving a comment and sharing this post you can help to raise awareness. Thank you for your support.


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Chris Saranchuk

I have 3 cats that are unable to kill birds. This is an idea for some people. I have a clothesline from one end of the yard to the other. I purchased halters, with bells, breakaway collars with bells, so that they are double belled. The collars are not used though on the lead. I have 15′ leads with a caribiner I attach to the clothesline. The cats may roam the backyard this way. The large birdfeeder I have is out of reach for the cats. Everyone is completely safe and happy.

Teri Parsons

Years ago, I was a member of a wildlife rescue that treated injured and dying species. They published a monthly newsletter, and over and over, they begged “animal-lovers” to do something about their free-roaming, domestic cats. “We get cat-caught birds all the time [birds with their eye-balls popped out; birds with their entrails hanging out, and science reveals, birds are a more difficult species for a cat to butcher]. Australia and New Zealand kill domestic cats to protect the strands in the web of all life. Steve Irwin was conscious of this issue. Through the years and as far back… Read more »

Debbie Kalagian

Well my husband and I have owned many cats over the last 31 years. Happy INDOOR cats that not once have ever tried to get out. They are happy so they don’t want to leave it’s very simple. But now you have all the homeless and feral cats. There’s no way you can stop them.

Debbie Kalagian

OK ladies so how would you stop that, KILL ALL THE CATS!

Linda Berry


Henri Kerkdijk

We keep unhealthy/unnatural amounts of cats and now we are supposed to humiliate them and lock m up for that? The world upside down.

Andrea Helena Gabriela Beránková

Oh god I love these bullsh!ts.. Human population is the biggest disaster for nature and animals and just in order to forward the responsibility somewhere else some people make up these “stories” bigger than are… Shouldn’t we prohibit reproduction of people? It would help! Hunting criticaly endangered animals? And lot of other sh!ths which humans are doing very well? I think it would help much more than solve whether cat’s and other animals are doing what is their nature.

Debbie Kalagian


Christina Gens

I agree we must do what we can about cats and protect birds.. On the other hand, and as we all know, humans are by large the hugest threat to wildlife… Do we all do what we can to prevent that… One thing that’s available to most us, and immediately, is to be really conscious about our consumption, to tend to zero waste, more and more plantbased (non-industrial), reduce motorised transport (motorised everything maybe even), share, … (so, I get the anger of people about cats, yes, their hunting instincts are always on, but please don’t forget about ourselves…? about… Read more »

Teri Parsons

Both Australia and New Zealand are killing domestic cats to protect biological diversity. When Europeans sailed their predators around the world, Earth convulsed in a massive and recorded extinction spasm; the domestic cat was the top agent of this Earth-death as only biological diversity or all wild and native species are the salvation of planet Earth and “all” of mankind’s required life lines for life itself. The domestic cat caused 33 “recorded” extinctions; the rat,13 in this recorded extinction spasm. Today’s American scientific studies indicate, in America, every year, the domestic cat slaughters as many as 3.7 billion birds annually… Read more »

Anne Grice

My cats have never killed birds! The would chatter at them but never chased them. They are mostly indoors but have a garden with a huge enclosure so they have an outdoor life as the birds stay safe.But we dont have that many birds here and my cats are lazy!! But humans as well need to stop killing birds too!

Rosemary Keogh

That is nature . Cats are hunters . Dogs chase cats . Birds eat worms .
Humans eat meat should we then stop. For crying out loud what have we become . Cats don’t catch them if well feed as much . They still like to explore and their natural instincts for hunting g comes in . Can humans nog interfere.!!!!

Linda French

I have had cats for 40 years, I have 2 now – and I am a bird lover, bird watcher and love to take photos of birds. All my cats have been indoor cats. Cats should be kept indoors. They are a natural predator. But also do it because you love your cat…a cat who gets lost has a horrible life if not rescued and most die a long horrible death. There are predators that will kill and eat your cat! Cats get killed on the road, they get lost, and they get eaten! If you love your cat keep… Read more »

Virginie Bonett Boisseranc

C’est la loi de la nature ils sont des carnivores et chasseur

Jean Clelland-Morin

The law-of-the-Jungle ! The mistake was domesticating and proliferating powerless beings as Toys and Slaves. What cats do is a drop-in-the-bucket compared to the damage of Animal-Agriculture for Non-Vegans ! ! !

Kathleen Mary Torres

yesd u need to bell them

Diane Leischer


Nancy O

Maybe when we get all people to stop killing them we can then consider that question

Minna Lindroth

Cat owners! Please, please hear the plea. For birds’ sake, please make sure that your cat is not out there hunting. Keep them in, train them to the leash, have them wear the Birdsbesafe collar or something else, whatever successfully deters your cat from predating. Your cats’ perceived need to hunt is not more important than a bird’s right to life, and please bear in mind that today’s pet cat is not part of the “natural world” and that the natural habitats of birds have diminished dramatically; together with all the other challenges and man-made dangers birds are well and… Read more »

Barbara Bee Sweetman

Of course. They should all wear a bell.

Be Frank

Yes, we should.

Robert Hammersmith

Yes, if possible.

Deborah Coward


Leigh Lofgren

I have cats and all are inside, as I do not believe any cat should be outdoors. However, we live in a rural area and there are lots of cattle, horses and farms and they have barns with cats to keep down the mice/rodent problem. I do not like the idea of cats killing birds, but not sure I want them on leashes or locked up inside. Many animals are put down due to clawing issues and declawing a cat is horrific; others are locked up in rooms day in day out which is also cruel and no easy solution,… Read more »

Marilyn Leybra

And thank you for your comment.

Teri Parsons

The latest American scientific domestic cat studies indicate, in America every year, the domestic cat kills as many as 3.7 billion birds and as many as 20.7 billion small to mid-sized biological diversity, annually in America. The finding father of the science of Conservation Biology has an indoor cat, and the Science of Conservation Biology lists the top, four causes of the extinctions of biological diversity and bio means, “life” or the “Evil Quartet: habitat loss and fragmentation; over harvesting; introduced predators and competitors.” When Europeans sailed their predators around the globe, Earth convulsed in a massive and recorded extinction… Read more »

Erika Sanchez

No, this is the animals natural instint and fun, sometimes also to eat. There are plenty of birds to go around. Why didn’t you include mice? Same answer from me, No, this is the animals natural instint and fun, sometimes also to eat.

Teri Parsons

We only have 171 domestic cat depredation studies conducted worldwide. When Europeans sailed their predators around the world, planet Earth convulsed in a major and recorded extinction spasm. The domestic cat was the top agent of this Earth-death, causing 33 “recorded” extinctions; rats, 13. “The dodo and solitaire of the Mascarenes, Lord Howe’s white gallinule and rails everywhere, were wiped out in the next wave of extinction — caused by predatory mammals introduced by people. Cats and rats were the worst of these.” International Council, Preservation of Birds Both Australia and New Zealand are killing domestic cats to protect the… Read more »

JD Creager

Not only birds but cats kill other small wildlife. So its easy I live in the country side. People dump cats on me several times a year. I shoot the cats and feed them to the coyotes and wolves.

M Leybra
M Leybra

It’s common-place for man to kill for fun & pollute the environment while poisoning myriad species of wildlife w/ his lead shot & is the only animal & apex predator on the planet who is totally destructive.

Teri Parsons

You are correct. I was a member of a wildlife rescue center; the domestic cat kills more amphibians and lizards than all the rest of the strands in the web of all life. Both species of lizards and amphibians protect humankind from diseases and epidemics. The western fence lizard prevents Lymes disease in the western states; something in his digestive system negates this pathogen. And, both lizards and amphibians are the top checks and balances of mosquitos, the top vector of all human diseases. According to recent scientific studies, in America, every year, the domestic cat kills as many as… Read more »

Hilary Morrison

Yes but it won’t be easy, many bird species are endangered, so keep the cats away from birds if possible.

Judy Rees

Humane prevention is paramount. Now. Foxes and rabbits as well.

Karen Lyons Kalmenson

if people kept their cats indoors, and spayed and neutered them, this would certainly help the situation.

also trap/spay/neuter/adopt out and if necessary, release. the cat vs bird situation is manmade and therefore it is up to man to prevent further decimation of our avian friends.

Andrei Hanches

The cat problem is a man-made problem.Wherever people colonized new land areas they brought cats as well,as other naturally perfect predators,that can exploit prey weaknesses very rapidly.The cat will kill for fun we can’t prevent that.Even wild cats such as lions and lynxes do it.The issue starts with the cat-fanatics,that have more than one feline around their home.Their cats will hunt every bird or small prey item on a relatively large area..Everybody has a cat.Put all the killings in a year together and the statistics are frightening..Millions of birds die yearly thanks to uncontrolled cats.


Have you seen how many have died due to Harp and Chem trails? Don’t see anyone protesting that, which by the way also makes humans sick. I find this question to be quite amusingly stupid.


Chem trails. Hahahahaha

M Leybra
M Leybra

The statement that, “Even wild cats such as lions and lynxes kill for fun” does not ring true. Wild animals kill for food & territory, for survival that doesn’t leave excess energy to expend on killing for ‘fun.’

Teri Parsons

The domestic cat in America kills as many as 3.7 billion birds annually and as many as 20.7 billion small to mid-sized biological diversity ever year in America. “The domestic cat is the most dangerous predator ever introduced by man.” Swedish Wildlife Study

“Not only are common birds such as mourning doves…killed by cats, but cats also prey on rare and endangered species such as piping plover, California clapper rail, California least tern and western snowy plover and species in decline such as black throated blue warbler and wood thrush.” The American Bird Conservancy

Peter Nupen
Peter Nupen

There are a number of rersearch publications in Scientific Journals indicating how horrifically destructive domestic cats are as the apex predators in towns and cities. Geckos, wild birds, chameleons, etc. are obliterated by domestic cats. They need to be kept indoors and taken out for walks on a leash. If you are a true animal lover, but cannot abide by these requiremnts, do not have a cat as a pet!!!.

Jenny Grinstead


Darren Matthews

Are the people who vote no the ones that insist on dumping non native predators into the environment every day to allow them to carry on killing wildlife without comprehending they are the problem….the selfish people who allow cats to roam and kill that is.

Paul Seligman

I voted No because the question is worded in an absolute way that is impossible. ‘try to prevent’ – yes.

M Leybra
M Leybra

Article offers offers great alternatives for not allowing pet cats to roam & kill w/ no oversight. The best solution would be for pet cat licensing & Township cat control, the same as dog control. That’s one sure way to ‘work it out’ w/ neighbor whose cat stalks ur bird feeder, same as if neighbor allowed their dog to roam & stalk ur yard. It’s a crowded world, people used to live in the city or the country, where homes were third mile apart. ‘Country’ today is called suburbs w/ homes on third acre lots. Time to get up w/… Read more »