Tell us what features and improvements you would like to see on Pets4Homes. Help us by answering a short survey.To the Survey
Many cat owners like to feed wild birds especially during the tougher winter months when other food they like to eat is sparse. However, the problem is that cats just cannot help themselves when it comes to their hunting instincts, which can be a real concern for their owners who then decide it's too dangerous to put seed out. However, there are things you can do to minimise the risk of your pet killing wild birds by taking certain precautions which are listed below.
Many garden birds prefer being fed on the ground. This includes dunnocks and robins which makes them particularly at risk of being caught by clever and very adept hunters namely cats. They like to lurk behind a bush so they can ambush ground feeding birds when they come to eat any seed that's been put down for them.
The best solution for cat owners who like to feed wild birds, is to place the food on open ground nowhere near any bushes or other places where cats can skulk ready to pounce on unsuspecting birds. You should leave at a minimum of 3 metres between any vegetation and where you place the seed on the ground. Another way to stop cats from hiding under bushes is to put prickly plants around and under them.
You can also invest in some pole mounted feeders although tiny bits will unavoidably fall to the ground when birds peck on the seeds inside. This is why it's a good idea to place a bird table underneath so that all the crumbs fall on it. Naturally, pole mounted feeders need to be quite high as does the bird table under it with the ideal height being a minimum of 1.5 metres tall.
If you do use this type of method to feed wild birds in your garden, make sure you position them close to some cover because if placed on open ground, it makes a great target for sparrowhawks and other birds of prey that may be lurking in the skies above.
If you plant prickly vegetation at the base of any bird feeders you decide to use in your garden and opt to use something to deter squirrels too like baffles on poles, this will stop cats from being able to climb up too. Cats don't like prickly plants so they are a great deterrent around bird feeders!
Birds find safety in numbers so the more you entice into your garden, the better chance they have of spotting any dangers which includes your cat! A single bird on their own is more at risk of getting caught but if there is a flock of wild birds feeding, the better their chances and cats are not overly fond of lots of birds when they take off – it tends to frighten them which is a good thing if you like feeding wild birds in your garden.
If you do decide to place nesting boxes in your garden, you have to make sure a cat cannot get to them. Again, thorny bushes planted on the ground at the base of a tree or other place you have put a nesting box, will act as a great cat deterrent. Prickly plants you might like to consider include the following;
When these plants are mature, they will act as great barriers between a nesting box and your cat. As a bonus, these bushes will provide valuable fruit for wild birds to eat in the autumn and over the winter months.
It's when chicks start to hatch out that they are in real danger from cats. Chicks and fledglings are at particular risk. It's in the spring and summer that you might like to consider not letting your cat out into the garden for a little while until the chicks have found their wings and therefore not stuck on the ground!
Research has shown that Blackbirds will not feed their chicks as much as they should if they know cats are around, so by keeping your feline friend in for a few weeks really does help improve the chances of chicks surviving. The other thing is that birds will try to protect their nests which means they are in fact, attracting the attention of their predators which includes birds that belong to the crow family.
The thing to bear in mind, is that cats seem to catch the most birds around dawn and then again at dusk, so by not letting them out at these times you reduce the chances of them killing any birds that might visit your garden.
There are a variety of other ways you can deter your cat from catching and killing birds which includes the following:
It is possible to feed wild birds that visit your garden even if you own cats. However, you need to take a few precautions so that it is not that easy for your pet to stalk and hunt down the birds when they are feeding. With a bit of planning and careful planting, you can make it that much harder for cats to catch and kill garden birds.
Do you like this article? Have something to say? Then leave your comments.