In North America, domestic cats kill hundreds of millions of wild birds and mammals each year. But with a few simple changes, it is possible for cats and birds to coexist!
Did you know that even a small scratch from a cat will likely kill a bird? Cats have bacteria in their mouths that is harmful to birds, which can be transferred by bites and scratches. Birds caught by cats need to be treated with specialized antibiotics, even if the bird doesn’t look injured. Do not try to care for birds yourself – call the BC SPCA Animal Helpline at 1-855-622-7722 for advice on bringing the bird to a wildlife rehabilitator.
Whether or not a cat is well-fed, they will try to catch birds and other animals if left on their own outdoors because of their natural instinct to hunt. The best way to keep both cats and birds safe is to keep your cat indoors. You can safely encourage your cats hunting instincts by feeding them with food puzzles, and playing with toys designed to mimic the movements of birds and mice.
Cat love to climb and perch! You can make the indoors more exciting by adding scratching posts, cat trees and perches near doors or windows where they can see outside.
Learn more about keeping cats indoors.
For cats with a strong desire for outdoor access, the BC SPCA recommends:
- Train your cat to walk on a harness so you can enjoy outdoor time together
- Consider building an outdoor enclosure or catio (cat + patio = catio!)
- Outfit your cat with a CatBib
- Train your cat to stay in your yard, and supervise them when they are outdoors
Even if you don’t have cats, make sure your bird feeders are cat-proof and wildlife-proof, and seed doesn’t spill on the ground where cats can more easily catch birds.
What about a bell?
Wearing a bell will not stop a cat from catching birds or other animals. Cats can learn to hunt very quietly even when wearing a regular collar or collar with a bell. Birds respond better to motion and bright colours, which is why CatBibs are a better alternative to bells. CatBibs have been shown to stop 94% of cats from catching birds, and most cats adjust immediately to wearing them.