Cats are one of the most beloved pets in the country. Anyone who owns a cat probably isn’t surprised to learn that 90 million U.S. homes include cat residents, making them the country’s top house pet. But what does surprise many cat owners is that their pets are one of the biggest threats to birds. Studies in the United States and Great Britain dramatically confirm that house cats, including those well fed at home, are responsible for the deaths of millions of small birds every year. This contributes to the decline in some species of birds, which doesn’t sit very well with birders.
Cats and Birds – A Dangerous Mix
Dr. Stanley Temple, a professor of wildlife ecology and conservation at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, completed a 4-year study on this topic with his colleague, John Coleman. They looked at the impact free-ranging domestic cats have on rural wildlife. By radio collaring many farm cats, the researchers found that in Wisconsin alone, cats kill at least 19 million songbirds and 140,000 game birds annually. Surveys from Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology confirm similar results.
Keep Cats Indoors – It’s That Simple
Studies like these recommend cat owners keep their felines indoors at all times, but this isn’t always convincing. Cat owners argue that their pets aren’t content to stay inside. As a cat owner myself, I understand where this concern is coming from. If you have a cat that is used to being outdoors, then of course it will show signs of wanting out. Perseverance pays off, though. It could take days or even weeks, but eventually your cat will adapt beautifully to its pampered life indoors. I know people who have retrained their cats to stay indoors, and without exception, they are delighted they made the change. If you’re starting with a kitten, it makes it easier. The various cats that have shared my life and home over the years have all been kept indoors from the start, and they’ve never shown the desire to go outside.
If there is any negative aspect to keeping a cat indoors, it’s that they can get bored. You can easily cure the boredom by providing them with entertainment that is safe and natural. Cats and birds don’t have to be a bad combination – as long as all the cat is doing is watching the birds! Cats can still satisfy their stalking instincts by watching birds from indoors without going out to kill or injure them. And once you start watching the fascinating antics of backyard birds, you’ll want to protect them too. You’ll cater to the birds’ needs and provide endless entertainment for your cat. At the same time, you’ll pick up a new hobby for yourself.
It’s a hard decision to bring your outdoor cat inside, but start now. Then set up bird feeders, birdbaths and natural cover for birds outside your cat’s favorite window. Now your cat will be happy, and the birds will stay safe!