It is something that most cat owners will have experienced at some point - walking into a room to find that your furry friend has left you a dead bird on the mat as a little present. Like many of us you will probably have felt a tad horrified that your cat has been so violent, wondering what to do if your cat keeps killing birds, but in reality, it is part of their nature to hunt and gather. Years ago cats would not have been kept as pets, therefore would not be fed by owners, causing them to chase and kill birds in order to survive.
So these days do cats kill birds for fun? The answer is yes - they will get excited at the sound of a flapping bird and their natural instinct will be to chase it. However, as they are most likely well fed at home, they may play with their prey, rather than eat it. If you are a bird lover, you may be wondering how can you stop cats killing birds in your garden, so we have put together a few helpful tips that can work to prevent a cat hunting birds in the future.
One of the best ways to protect birds from cats is to make it obvious that your pet is close by. Attaching a small bell to your cat’s collar can alert any birds to their presence, giving them an opportunity to fly away to safety.
Giving your cat something else to focus on can distract them from wanting to chase birds. An interactive toy that will keep them stimulated can help with this, such as a puzzle toy that will offer a treat at the end.
Some cats will catch a bird to leave on the doorstep, but others will kill a bird to eat it. If this seems to be the case, changing to a cat food that has a high meat content can really help to take away that urge.
A question you should ask yourself is why do cats kill birds? Sometimes cats will hunt due to boredom or from not being able to act on their natural instincts. This is where it can pay off to play with them everyday, in order to wear them out. Giving them something to chase in the form of cat toys will also help, offering an illusion of hunting and catching a smaller animal.
Catnip can do wonders for heightening a cat’s senses, which can help to replace the excitement that they may get from chasing and killing a bird.
Birds are most vulnerable an hour before and an hour after sunset, so perhaps avoid letting your cat out during this time. Birds also tend to be out more following any bad weather, so your cat will likely be out hunting at this time if you let them.
Cats are wonderfully agile, so you may not think that raising your bird table will make any difference. However, if you can cover the post with a lubricant such as vaseline, your cat will not be able to grip onto it enough to climb. Keeping the bird table away from any fences and trees will also help, as they won’t have anything to jump from and to.
If your cat has been spayed or neutered it can reduce the size of their territory, therefore keeping them closer to home and away from any birds that they may be hunting at the park.
If you have an interest in birds and how to protect them, take part in the Big Garden Birdwatch, taking place between the 28th and 30th January.