Guelph, Ontario

Cats & Birdfeeding

    For those that love to attract wild birds to their yard, outdoor cats can be a very frustrating problem. We want to enjoy the wildlife in our yard, but at the same time, we do not want to be doing more harm by attracting birds to a certain place.

    There are several things you can do to make your yard cat-resistant. For those that have neighbours with outdoor cats, you can talk with them and provide resources for them to learn more about keeping their cats indoors (see Resources below). 

     It is important to realize that cats are not a native predator to North America. "Because we brought the domestic cat to North America, we have a responsibility to both the cats and to the wild animals they may affect" (see Coleman, Temple and Craven). 

 

Ways you can help reduce the problem of outdoor cats:

  • If you own a cat, make it an indoor cat. Not only is it better for the outdoor fauna around your home, but it means that your cat with live a healthier, longer life. Putting a bell on the collar of a cat is not effective. Check the Resources below to learn about Habitat Haven Cat Dens if you want to give your cats room to roam out-of-doors.
  • Do not feed or encourage stray cats. Eliminate any sources of food (garbage cans that cannot be easily opened, etc.).
  • Neuter or spay your pets.
  • Talking with neighbours and friends who own cats, and making them aware of positive alternatives to letting their cats outdoors. Some municipalities also have laws for outdoor cats; check with your municipality to see what pertains to your area.

 

Ways you can help protect your backyard birds from outdoor cats:

  • Place your feeders in an open area, well away from any shrubbery from which cats can ambush the birds.
  • If you have a lot of ground feeding birds, you can put up a chicken wire fence/enclosure around the base of your feeders. Stokes recommends that it be about 15 feet in diameter. If the chicken wire is at least 3 1/2 feet high, this can at least act to slow the cats down enough to allow the birds to fly away.
  • Buy a pole system and hang your feeders off the ground. A squirrel baffle can also act as a cat baffle.
  • Place birdbaths off the ground (you can buy hanging birdbaths to hang from soffits or tree branches). Or place a birdbath in an open are where cats cannot ambush the birds drinking there.
  • Eliminate any hiding places around feeders. Can you sacrifice a shrub or two? Can you move a brush pile farther away?

 

 Resources:

American Bird Conservancy. www.abcbirds.org The ABC has program called "Cats Indoors: The Campaign for Safer Birds and Cats." This site contains many useful educational brochures and fact sheets, answering many questions and containing tips for both cat owners and bird feed-ers. (Click here to be taken to "Cats Indoors" directly.)

 

Coleman, Temple and Craven. "Cats & Wlidlife: A Conservation Dilemma." 1997. Available to read online at http://wildlife.wisc.edu/extension/catfly3.htm .

 

Habitat Haven Cat Dens. http://habitathaven.com/index.html This is a Toronto company that sells Cat Dens. You can put together enclosures so your cat can roam outside but within a boundary.

 

Ontario SPCA. http://ontariospca.ca/4-carefactsheets-safety-2.shtml This page outlines the potential dangers of letting your cat outdoors, and explores the benefits of making your cat an indoor cat.