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Cat predation

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Paul Deane Paul Deane | 19:51 UK time, Tuesday, 5 June 2012

As many of you are aware, or indeed watched live, our wood warbler nest was predated last night by a cat. It seems that all of the nestlings were taken and possibly one of the adults.

We have seen one adult return to the nest this morning with food and a male has been calling in the area so it is likely to be the same one.

The subject of cat predation is a highly emotive one. Research into the full effect of cat predation of our garden birds is not conclusive, but it's an issue which we feel deserves more investigation.

We'll have some of the footage from last night on the show tonight and Liz Bonnin on the show on Thursday to introduce a new piece of research being carried out by the University of Reading on the issue, which we hope, in time, will shed new light.

Comments

  • Comment number 1.

    We were just told that barn owls only hunt at night but I can assure you that they hunt during the day in Northchapel West Sussex

  • Comment number 2.

    That is so sad that a bird got eaten by a cat. I really wish that didn't happen.

  • Comment number 3.

    My mother used to have a cat that seemed to have a taste for endangered or rarer species. It used to catch quite a few adult Water Voles. It also used to go on the garage roof outside and catch bats as they emerged from a roost. This along with Common Lizards and a whole load of birds and mammals. There was nothing I could do about it as it wasn't my cat and I didn't live there. But it was a frighteningly good hunter. You could take something off it and within a few minutes it was back with something else. Mind you one of her present cats, which is a bit of a fiend with birds got some avian karma when apparently it has been pursued by a Common Buzzard a few times. I'm not sure if this was an actual attempted predatory attack or a type of mobbing.

    Moggies seem to vary quite a lot in their hunting abilities. Some are not too good and only catch the odd mouse or vole, whereas others go for big stuff and catch a lot of it. I reckon the first cat I mentioned (a Siamese) would often catch up to 10 prey items a day during the warmer months.

    The problem with cats is that they often exist at far higher densities than natural predators. They alse seem to vary quite a bit on whether they take prey items back home with them. I've noticed with some that if you take prey items off it, then they stop bringing them back and deal with them elsewhere. So I do wonder how you can accurately gauge what a cat is catching as you are making assumptions about it bringing prey items back, which is not always the case.

  • Comment number 4.

    I have Trushes in my garden who take Grapes to eat, is this normal as I have only seen them taking worms plus how do I tag them reference ?

  • Comment number 5.

    Tomorrows programme, Rabbits.

    I have just posted some shots of white rabbits taken today at an undisclosed site in Sheffield, there seems to be a large family of these rabbits, have been set free or is this a natural occurance in the wild.

    Anyone know?

    Thanks Jiber.

  • Comment number 6.

    I've just come from the twitter and facebook feeds and seen more than enough of the usual unhelpful polarisation of cat haters wanting to get their shotguns out and cat lovers saying it's just nature or cats do no harm. I thought this might be a better place to attempt to voice some common sense and sanity.
    I am a cat lover that is only too aware of the terrible harm done to our native wildlife, but there are ways the two can live together less destructively. I'm going to put aside the main issue which I think everyone agrees on anyway, that there are just too many cats, and the need for more neutering and control of feral numbers.
    For the rest, it starts with the need for cat owners to step up and take more responsibility for their pets, and in some cases get their heads out of the sand and accept the harm they can do in the first place. I know not all cats hunt, I've worked with them and owned enough, and it's not a myth that some genuinely have no inclination or ability to hunt at all. But the majority do to some extent, while a minority of very good hunters do a disproportionate amount of harm.

    There is, however, a lot you can do to reduce predation by your cat.

    The first thing is ALWAYS keep them in at night, ideally bringing them in before dusk and letting them out well after sunrise. In winter this may mean only a couple of hours in the middle of the day. If this is not possible then you need to seriously think about the possiblity of a house cat.

    Always put bells on their collar, and a sonic alarm as well if you can, though I would only do this for a cat that you know is a hunter.

    Feed your birds! The more eyes the better. Feed them on a high metal feeding station that a cat can't climb and keep the area clear of ground cover and away from branches.

    These three steps should be enough to massively reduce or even prevent predation by your cat. I have worked with this through years of cat ownership, and these have proved the most successful steps in preventing hunting.

    To give a little of my own experience, these measure were sorely tested and proved to be effective when I took on a challenging rescue who had been feral until 6 months of age a couple of years ago. In spite of a belled collar, he very quickly turned out to be the best hunter I had ever seen in a domestic cat, focussing on large prey, and taking both woodpigeons and jackdaws in mid flight. He would at least blessedly kill them instantly, being reared wild he knew how to, and then pluck and eat them. This is why domestic cats get called "cruel" - it's a misunderstanding of the fact they simply have no idea how to kill their prey because their mother never taught them and probably never knew herself.
    Anyway, I despaired, but realising if I returned him to the rescue centre he would likely get homed to someone less interested in controlling his hunting, I persevered. He now has 3 bells, a sonic device, is of course in well before nightfall and after sunrise, is carefully watched in nesting season and kept in if necessary even in the day. Even in a hunter as good as him these measures have resulted in his predation levels falling to next to nothing. I am lucky enough to work largely from home so can keep an eye on him, and it's the occasional bank vole (which nothing seems to be able to save, but then my garden is heaving, and squeaking, with them), and 2 birds in 2 years.
    I have a successful wildlife garden full of invertebrates, slowworms, amphibians, small mammals, and a current birdlist of 62, in which I've had Song Thrush, Blackbirds, Blue Tits, Blackcaps, Long Tailed Tits, Magpies and Robins successfully nest in recent years. And I have 3 cats, including the one discussed above who has been the most problematic.

    It is possible to make it work and the two to live together, to be a cat lover and a wildlife lover, supporting both in your home and garden. If more owners were seen to take more responsibility, then I'm sure the levels of hatred against cats would diminish, at least from wildlife lovers. I understand both sides, both the frustration and at times rage of one side, and the defensiveness of the other. A bit of common sense and a few practical steps would go a long way to diffusing this endless and unhelpful polarisation, as well as making a difference to our wildlife, which I'm sure is what we all ultimately want.

  • Comment number 7.

    I would just want to add a word of warning re putting your hand in a swarm of bees.
    A swarm will stock up on honey before leaving the hive, to look for a new home. If recently emerged the bees are usually calm and will not attack, however if the swarm has struggled to find a new home those bees can be becoming hungry, agitated and as a result aggressive, disturbing them could be quite dangerous

  • Comment number 8.

    Hi @Jiber

    Someone released some domestic type rabbits in my local country park. These were sort of white with patches. They were a bit naive and tame at first meaning one was killed by a dog. Someone caught a few. But I still saw the odd one about and then assumed they had died off. However, a year or so later someone pointed out a rabbit to me that looked like a cross between one of them and a wild rabbit.

    I've never seen wild white rabbits before, although I have seen quite a few black rabbits in wild populations around Lancashire. There seems more in some areas and I think these are natural black wild rabbits and not domestic origin rabbits. In fact I have never seen a wild white rabbit in my life that appeared to be that way without some domestic rabbit heritage. I'm not saying they don't exist, it's just that I am over 50 and have seen huge amounts of rabbits in my life time, but none that looked properly wild and white.

    So my guess, and I might be wrong, is that these might have some domestic origin. However as with the ones I saw it appears that they do have some sort of ability to hybridize with the wild rabbits.

  • Comment number 9.

    Cats are wonderful animals. Cat owners are to blame not the cats. My cat is neutered, chipped, kept in at night and only let out when I'm around to keep an eye on her. In the house she has plenty of toys for exercise and stimulation and, as she's never hungry, she doesn't find it worth her while to hunt when outside. I know I won't be popular when I say I will never put a collar on her. Cats shouldn't wear them - they can get trapped in bushes etc. They are not dogs and they do not need a collar because they do not need a lead.

  • Comment number 10.

    I just feel I need to reply to Julie's post above re collars.
    While I agree with almost all of your post, proper safety collars are NOT dangerous for cats to wear. Cheap, badly made, homemade, or old fashioned styles are, I agree. My cat (see above) wears a safety release collar, and has tangled and lost it on a number of occasions, including jumping from a tree at speed, and it's done it's job with the safety catch breaking and he has been completely unharmed.
    I would rather not use collars either, but in his case it's necessary or he would have to be a house cat to protect wildlife. For many cats it is necessary for this reason. I also have an elderly, nearly toothless, and a "special needs" cat at the moment that are both unable to hunt, so they do go collarless (though obviously still microchipped)

  • Comment number 11.

    I know it's terrible to see, but why is it exciting to see a weasel predate a nest but disgusting when it's a cat? In the past, there would have been wildcats anyway.

  • Comment number 12.

    Hi, I emailed yesterday about uploading pictures and not wanting to use flicker. I realise this is not a postable comment. However, I have put the picture on our website. www.naturezones.org.uk "I Bee Seeing You". I know you will like it!

  • Comment number 13.

    The only way I can see that could solve the cat issue is for owner's to keep their pets within their own property/garden. Yes, it would take some work, but I've just about managed to keep them out of my back garden, though it does look like Fort Knox! It used to look lovely, but I've sacrificed that so that wildlife can be safe here. If cat rescue organisations would ensure new owners were able to prevent the cats being a nuisance to anyone else, that would help a bit.

  • Comment number 14.

    One further point; I've been glancing through previous research done by Reading Uni on cat research, without the use of cameras. One issue was whether the mortality of prey was compensatory or not i.e. many prey items were of poorer physical condition than, e.g. those killed by car collision. Research into Tits and the presence of Sparrowhawks has shown that the birds carried less fat reserves to enable them to be more agile to escape predation. So it would be quite likely that birds in an area where there were predators like cats, would also carry less fat reserves. It could also be that the bird's opportunity to forage is greatly disrupted by the high populations of these predators, so that adult birds, and newly fledged youngsters are somewhat underweight.
    I look forward to seeing the item on the Springwatch programme.

  • Comment number 15.

    FLASH, CAT EATS BIRD!!! Hooda thunkit!

    Edgrant 4 Our chicken likes grapes.

  • Comment number 16.

    @ post 6 LadyVespine - thanks for your intersting (unlike post15) comments, couldn't agree with you more re the collars, badly made collars can indeed strangle cats but like you said properly designed ones are a lot safer and a good compromise. Well done on re-training your feral cat, my sister was in the same position with her rescued feral cat who sometimes made a clean kill and other times played with it. She unlike yourself did nothing about it, when I was there the cat got a good soaking with a glass of water... funnily enough it didn't really like me :)

    @ post 11 stuart - simply because most cats are fed by their owners and have no need to hunt for survival unlike weasles ect to hunt to survive - if they don't make a kill they don't eat. Do you go to the supermarket stock up on beef, chicken etc then go and kill a few cows or chickens for fun because you can? Not quite the same thing but close enough. I have no problem with hunters who use their kills - I know someone who goes deer hunting, they make one or two kills a year, they butcher the kill themselves and live off the meat all year, very little is wasted. Trophy hunting is an entirely different situation.

  • Comment number 17.

    There are approximately 8 million cats in the UK so when people say “oh well its just nature and natural for them to do that” that is wrong because cats are rare in nature (the Scottish wild cat for instance) the domestic cat has a advantage over wildlife in that it has a full belly from its owners so can afford to sit for hours on end waiting for birds to come down to feed.
    PS: most cat owners don’t care about the wildlife around them if they did they’d put a collar with a bell on the cat.

  • Comment number 18.

    Considering the amount of damage the human race has done and is doing to the animal world, I find your fottage of a cat near a nest of dea baby birds upsetting and alarming, there was no conclusive proof that th cat actually did it..

    Why single out cats, squirrels and rats eat eggs and babies and can reach higher nests. Jay kill young, cuckoos turn all the babies out and move in.

    Cats have been tortured or burnt throughout the ages, and used as footballs. My own cat was rescued from children throwing him and his brother repeatedly down stairs for fun!

    I've had cats for 50 years, dogs, foxes and hedghogs, I think out of all the cats I've had and thats a lot because they all lived to between 17-24, I can count 4 dead birds. But they do control the rats and mice in and around ur house and rats are a huge problemagain caused by human intervention.

    Be more careful in future of the sort of feelings you may be inciting and the excuses you can give people for deliberate cruelty.

    Your show is usually wonderful but I was nearly really put off ever looking again.

  • Comment number 19.

    I would be interested to know whether research into numbers of birds/small mammals predated by cats takes into account the full story or just includes items brought home, or whether it also includes the following prey items:
    a) those eaten at the point of capture
    b) those killed and then abandoned
    c) the chicks which also perish as a result of the death of one or both parents
    d) the loss of future breeding prospects when an adult parent bird is taken

    As cats are not native to the UK (other than the Scottish wildcat), how can the loss of "275 million prey items a year, of which 55 million are birds" (figures from the RSPB's website) be justified, particularly when the cat population of the UK continues to rise alongside the human population, while many of our native species are in serious decline? At what point will cat predation be considered a serious threat and, by that time, will it be to late to act?

  • Comment number 20.

    For all you dog and cat owners out there here’s something for you to ponder …have you ever thought about the carbon footprint of keeping a dog or cat? There are approximately 16 million of them in the UK so everyday that amount of tins are opened! (again approximately) Just think all tin has to be mined and that’s just one day! And again the next day another 30 million tins and so on.
    And don’t get me started on the fish, horse and cow meat that go’s in the tins.
    I know this will fall on deaf ears because you love keeping your fido and tiddles don’t you? that’s because we humans are self-centred selfish creatures and we only care about our tiny little lives and the world revolves around you doesn’t it?
    PS: don’t get me wrong I love cats they are fascinating creatures but only the ones in there natural habitat. (please think before you buy a cat)

  • Comment number 21.

    Birdwatch.... Oh I mean Springwatch!!!! Once again what should be a really good programme about British wild life has rapidly AGAIN deteriorated into an ornithological show.
    Example - last nights hour long programme contained 49 minutes of bird related articles and only 11 minutes of all other animals. and this isn't an uncommon or extreme division of time going by previous episodes!
    Great if you are a bird lover, but for those of us who delight in the wider variety of British animals this once great show is becoming a turn off!

  • Comment number 22.

    I am sorry but everything on this planet is a preditor, whether it is us, animals plants etc etc.

    So remember this when posting on here if things don't eat how do they survive.

    So unfortunately this is what happens in the wild so get a life and enjoy the programme for showing what happens in the wild, even if it upsets some people, as in my opinion they have lived in cloud cuckoo land.

  • Comment number 23.

    l moved to my home 2yrs ago and worried that my cat ,abandoned by neighbours, at my old home, would be a problem with the birds l'm lucky to have lot's of different ones but l have not seen him catch any yet, couple times stalking them but l give him a good yell and even a squirt of water,l had a good laugh because he was on the receiving end of the blackbirds and more than once had to take cover from them, tried a collar and if he had not been in the home would have choked his favourite thing to chase is the squirrels and even not sure about them l also have badgers and foxes he does not mind the foxes but not badgers who bring the baby with them now,l've noticed with the foxes that some put their bottoms in the others face is this the dominate fox? and also heard my first cuckoo in years the other morning you think l had won the lottery

  • Comment number 24.

    @ post 20 what_a_Kerfuffle: I would love to be able to keep a dog again. I was and will be again a responsible owner.

    As to the environmental cost of carbon footprint, here's something for you to ponder... I never wanted my own offspring as generally I prefer dogs to people so unlike all the breeders my carbon footprint from owning a dog(s) is significantly lower. And lets face it, the 'meat' content in your average dog/cat food is the rubbish that humans won't eat so instead of letting it rot away or add to the carbon emissions by incinerating it's used in pet food. Unless you used dry food! Not to mention that every tin was washed out and recylced. 16m tins perhaps so - but how many parents do the school run even when walking is possible, leaving the car engine idling... a lot more than 16m cars nationwide.

    @ post 22 roger: agreed, the predator/prey balance worked for many thousand of years until humans 'evolved' and then interfeard in the balance. And that balance is mostly gone.

  • Comment number 25.

    Domestic cats should be treated in the same way as grey squirrels. Neither are native, both are causing untold destruction to the balance of nature in the UK and require to be swiftly controlled.

  • Comment number 26.

    We regularly have cats coming into our garden to 'do their business' and have often found dead young birds which have been predated by them. I wish to ask - Why are cats allowed to roam free? Cat owners should be subject to the same sort of rules and regulations as dog owners. I do not accept that cat owners cannot 'control' their pets.

  • Comment number 27.

    There are responsible CAT PEOPLE out there, my rescue cat, Tatty, lived wild for a year before she found me and only survived due to her excellent hunting skills. She is kept in at night, has a very loud and bright collar yet still manages to catch prey which she does eat! However, on Sunday she took on more than she expected as she tried to take out a baby blackbird and was set upon by both parents, who made a very un blackbird noise whilst doing so! I would love to have provided footage of this incident but my priority was to save the chick. I am really looking forward to Cat Cam on Thursday's show, surely all God's creatures are wonderful and facinating? Even poodles??

  • Comment number 28.

    Here, here, martincov @ 26, for several reasons:
    1. Why should my neighbours get to choose whether I have a cat in my garden?
    2. Why should I get the job of clearing up after someone else's pet - both excrement and dead birds/mammals?
    3. If cats were confined to their owner's property, it would drastically reduce the numbers of birds/mammals killed as they wouldn't have access to other gardens and fields, etc.
    4. It would also be kinder to people with small pets such as rabbits, guinea pigs, etc. who don't appreciate cats stalking/killing their own pets.

    You only have to look at any wildlife or gardening forum to see how annoying it is to have to put up with other people's animals so a change in the law would be welcome. I am not a cat hater but I don't want to have to put up with cats in my garden when I'm trying hard to help out our struggling native wildlife.

  • Comment number 29.

    I agree with eagle-eyed ...Its very sad where I live you never hear bird-song it’s a very sterile environment that’s because most of the families are obsession with keeping cats. Any bird trying to make a nest wouldn’t stand a chance round here it would need barred-wire round it!

  • Comment number 30.

    @Grant

    Human beings aren't native, are causing untold destruction to the balance of nature in the UK and require to be swiftly controlled. You won't get rid of cats until you get rid of all the people. I'd suggest relocating, maybe the arctic circle? Plenty of wildlife - hardly any people, no cats...

  • Comment number 31.

    Oh the great wildlife versus cat debate! Cats aren't native so they are condemmed if they hunt (especially birds) But, along with the more recent arrival of grey squirrels, pause a moment to consider how these non-native species got here...they certainly didn't swim or fly here on their own volition but came due to human intervention. So the grey squirrels were released into parkland and they flourished to the near extinction of the native reds and the ultimate blame for this must lie with the human species. Cats were originally kept for pest control (some still are) but have now mainly acquired a pet status, again due to human choice. But a lot of cats have been abandoned, neglected, persecuted so have become semi wild, or feral, living on their wits and their hunting skills, again due to human behaviour towards them. (I suspect the cat filmed at the wood warblers nest was a feral female with kittens, looking at the small head and considering the location of Ynys-Hir). Many of these ferals die slowly and painfully in various ways. Some are rescued, neutered and re-homed responsibly by rescue shelters. Those beyond help and carrying the HIV virus are euthanised. All this is due to human behaviour, some compassionate and responsible, some thoughtless, vindictive and neglectful.
    Many cat owners are responsible and by various methods reduce their cats' predation by whatever fair means possible. Others just don't care or realise the scale of predation a good hunter can perpetrate, just as an unbelievable amount of cats still go un-neutered, are then abandoned and left to produce yet more cats who in their turn are born feral unless a rescue shelter intervenes.
    So where does the ultimate responsibility lie for the predation of that wood warbler nest? With the Human!

  • Comment number 32.

    People seem to be getting very defensive about there own cat saying “my cats this, my cats that” we are not taking about individual cats here, I’m sure your cat is wonderful! We are taking about cats on-mass ..I’ll repeat: approximately 8 million cats in the UK! Surly you can see that’s not natural. For every one responsible owner you can be sure there’s a 100 that aren’t. So don’t take it personal nobody’s having a go at responsible owners.
    But If you really must have a pet then keep a rabbit because they don’t savage our wildlife and they are vegetarian so can live on grass (like the native ones do) and are cheap to keep so saves you money and good for the environment so it’s a win-win situation what are you waiting for?
    Yes I know cats are cute an cuddly I can see the appeal but its time to grow up your not a child anymore you’re an adult! other than that go out and get a human friend if you need company but please don’t keep a cat think about the British wildlife for a change other than your selfish self!

  • Comment number 33.

    Looking at the footage it looks like the cat was Feral.

    No cat would EAT a bird unless it was it's main food source.
    A domestic cat with a home would play with it until it unfortunately wouldn't move any more.

    Such a shame there isn't a program for neautering feral cats and giving homes to the kittens.
    I guess it comes down to one thing....MONEY!

    I have 3 bird feeders stations in my garden, 3 robins feed from my hand and I'm the proud owner of 2 cats.
    many cat owners think I'm the one that's cruel as I keep them indoors but HEY! They don't run the risk of getting run over, stolen, picking up worms & diseases from mice & birds or other cats.
    They have an outdoor pen where they love to watch the birds and at the moment they "MEOW" at me at 10pm to let me know the they've seen the hedgehogs through the window.!! So the cats are put in their pen so they can watch the hedgehogs eating their cat biscuits!

    So come on cat owners!! I know cats are wonderful but please don't be responsible for the loss of some of our beautiful birds.

    Oh! I also have a cat DVD which contains an hour of birds and mice to kepp them entertained! They love it, but I have to say at the moment they are tuning in to SPRINGWATCH to watch the birds on there instead!!!!



    (ps. My previous cat was a neighbours outdoor cat which I adopted.
    I fed the birds at 8am, 1pm & 4pm. The cat was let out between feeding times and never on a night! common sense really. If you get on well with a neighbour who owns a cat you can work out these shifts with them.
    I've just done this with my neighbour who's cat is a pain in the B.. when it comes to my garden wildlife. Easy)

  • Comment number 34.

    I have to admit my dislike of collars comes from hearing about a friends cat who was strangled by their collar. Luckily my cat loves watching the birds, but doesn't catch them. If she did I may well take the time to look into collars to see if there are truly safe ones out there. I feed the birds every day, just no longer on the ground since she came, and I feel that it is completely possible to have both a wildlife friendly garden and a cat.

  • Comment number 35.

    I think its about time we had a law to protect wildlife from cats. Perhaps a limit on the amount of cats per household or better still keep cats inside. If you want a pet, be responsible for it and keep it under control and if you are too lazy to do that then get a fish. I except that farms etc might want a cat for pest control, then I suggest a family of barn owls and a couple of terriers.

  • Comment number 36.

    Just to add- I love predators and yes it is exciting when a sparrowhawk suddenly appears from nowhere and takes out a bird by your feet! But cats are NOT natural predators-they don't fit in to the eco system, there are too many of them and there is nothing to control their numbers, they don't have babies to feed, they get fed at home. They are just taking the food from all the other wonderful predators mouths.

  • Comment number 37.

    Whenever you look out of your window almost anywhere in the UK, what you see is pretty much entirely man-made, whether it's urban environment, farmland, moorland, even woodland. Before we arrived, most of Britain was forested and looked very different to how it looks now. Surely, by far the greatest damage has been caused by us. Cats and grey squirrels are just doing what cats and grey squirrels do - nature gave them their instincts for survival; we are the ones who messed with it. Incidentally, rabbits are not native to Britain either - they were brought here by the Normans. So do we make a 'moral' judgement and just control the predators but not the cuddly animals? I think we should be more concerned with our own destructive behaviour. Yes, there probably are too many cats, but there are a lot more humans!

  • Comment number 38.

    Buzz word for the series. Predation. We used to say eaten or, in the case of cats, killed.

  • Comment number 39.

    The debate declining populations of birds being caused by predation by cats has been going for quite some time now.

    The RSPB website states that there is no overwhelming proof that domestic cats are the cause of declining bird populations in the UK.

    Personally I think the bird populations decline is probably due to several factors that cats may or may not prove to be part of.

    I do think that every possible reason for the decline of our garden birds should be looked at thoroughly before cats have the blame put squarely on their shoulders.

    Also because of the high emotions this topic raises I also think it needs pointing out that cats are protected by law and it is a criminal offence to trap, injure or kill them.

  • Comment number 40.

    At my mother's house live 5 cats. Two are mine and I live elsewhere but visit. Two are old and don't hunt,3 hunt. She also has two ducks and two chickens, so birds are in the garden regardless because of the maize and we also feed the wild birds a lot of varieties of food all year round.
    The numbers and variety of birds has SHOT UP over the last 9 years since we have been seriously feeding (not just peanuts) them.
    I would advocate that if you love and have cats it is your duty to feed birds so as to increase the numbers and replace ones perhaps killled by your cats! I know there are more birds in mum's garden than there ever where before she fed them properly and the number of cats is at it's greatest for a number of years too! When the dog was alive she used to kill birds if they got near her and she killed a sparrowhawk that was hunting in a bush once--very upsetting for us. Luckily there is only one feral cat around but he doesn't use the garden and he probably (like our cats) prefers rabbits and voles.
    At the moment the bird table and (protected) areas below the bird table are heaving with all sorts of birds. This year I put out niger seeds and there are at any one time 8 goldfinches on the feeders and in the table scoffing! Four are young obviously benefitting from the increased food.
    We get large numbers of sparrow, tits all the usual suspects and have regular all year round yellowhammers and reedbuntings. The ringed dove family this year is 10 young! The corn on the ground attracts them and also the rats who my cat loves to catch. I (and the birds) can tell if he is "ratting" or "birding" and behave accordingly! I insist on the hunting cats having collars with bells and they are kept inside if obviously hunting too much at sensitive times (evening and mornings). Yes, some birds do lose their lives but on the whole I think it is a positive trade off for the birds as they have regular food and are very aware of a cat presence. There is a nest box in the garden near the bird table and this has blue tits every year and I saw at 5 fledge on Monday last.
    To sum up: If you keep cats.

    Feed the birds a large variety of foods to compensate for loses.

    Make sure feeding areas are as safe as possible (I put a stick fence around the base of the bird table or feeder, with gaps for birds to escape but not let in a cat. This slows the "rush" of the cat and it leaves time for the bird to escape). The cat, if hunting is litterally stopped in it's tracks.

    Put loud bells on the cats.

    Put up%

  • Comment number 41.

    Not for Hi Coo, We have always had cats and unless you want to keep them from going out, they will roam and catch anything they can: birds, mice, frogs, fish, etc. We have a chicken and the cat that visits us knows not to mess with it.

  • Comment number 42.

    On a note that may be relevant concerning herring gulls (whose chicks can be predated by brave cats, happened near me a few years ago). At least 4 nests have been destroyed this year so far by, yes, humans.
    Humans are the birds worst enemy not others animals, this has and probably always will be the case.
    Some of us try and undo damage wrought on the natural world by careless, empathy devoid humans by feeding and caring for and trying to protect wild birds. We also may love and keep cats!

  • Comment number 43.

    kingfisher wrote:
    I think its about time we had a law to protect wildlife from cats. Perhaps a limit on the amount of cats per household or better still keep cats inside.


    So which species cause the most damage to wildlife not cat but us the human race, so are you saying we should be controlled also.

    I wish people would step back and look at themselves first.

  • Comment number 44.

    I'm surprised by the negative reaction people have toward cats behaving the way nature designed them to behave. It was our ancestors that took it upon themselves to domesticate cats, until then they were just as wild as our wildlife is today. Are people really naive enough to think that because we decided to teach cats to live in our houses and give them food, that they would devolve and that their natural instincts would just disappear?

    I'm also surprised by some cat owners stating that they make their cats stay in all night to protect wildlife. Cats are semi-nocturnal animals so forcing them to stay indoors actually conflicts their natural instinct making it's rather unfair on the cat that it should be forced to curb it's nature just because we want to have it as a pet.

    How is it ok to for creatures that live outside to kill but not for creatures that we make live with us? How is it ok for humans to wipe out entire species to build houses etc but there's outcry because a cat has killed a bird? How it ok for people to say certain animals need controlling because they kill other animals when humans actually breed animals for the sole purpose of killing and eating them? I could go on and on!! :(

  • Comment number 45.

    I am a secretary of a local nature reserve in Birmingham. I am proud to be invovled with conservation of this reserve and elsewhere. This why I take an interest in Springwatch.I am also a cat lover and I do a lot of voluntary work for The Cats Protection League. I was upset by the cat predating those chicks,but I was more upset at the mink attacking the Kingfishers nest which was treated in a light hearted way by the Springwatch presenters. Yet the footage of the cat was presented as very grave, almost catastrophic. I find `what a kafuffle` childish comments about cat owners` not caring` about wildlife offensive. When I was heartbroken to learn that one of the swans on our reserve had been deliberately attacked by dog and was badly injured,that it had to be rescued. This is a common problem in the area of wildfowl being used as bait for fighting dogs. Also,the population of ducks and geese are going down due to people stealing them to eat.Please don`t the likes of the brain dead `what a kafuffle` who say that cat owners don`t care about wildlife because I as a cat owner certainly do. People are more of a problem than cats.

  • Comment number 46.

    Yes of course humans do more damage than cats (talk about stating the ble#ding obvious) and yes we all know the carbon footprint of humans is now un-repairable and we are beyond redemption because of human growth and all things related to that expansion: (consumerism, procreation and occupying space etc)
    And yes we’ve tried and we cant stop humans destroying the planet (de-forestation, oil leaking into the seas ..etc) but we can slow down the inevitable Armageddon by not keeping a fido or tiddles!

  • Comment number 47.

    There are clearly strong feelings on this subject, which nicely demonstrates my point. If you want a cat in your garden, that's your choice. Equally, if I don't want your cat in my garden, that should be my choice and not yours.

  • Comment number 48.

    I am 11 years old. I own a cat, dog, rabbits and filsh, and care passionately about wildlife. I think that the animals have right to do as nature intended, but we also, as responsible owners, have a responsibility.
    My mum and I have tried to make the birds and mammals that live in our garden as secure as possible by locating their homes out of the reach of the cat and dog, and by planting deterrent plants to increase protection.
    It must be working as we have many birds ranging from wagtails and tits to jays and lesser spotted woodpeckers who make their homes or regularly feed in our garden.

    On a more fun note, thanks Chris for introducing me to the fun of poo spotting, though my mum isn't too pleased with him!! When I am out and about rambling or visiting my local WWT centre, I am always on the look out for poo, and with the aid of my trusty poo guide I have already found poo belonging to foxes, hedgehogs, rabbits, badgers, otters, as well as pellets from owls.

  • Comment number 49.

    The relationship between human and domesticated cat species can be classed as inter species co-operation and benefits both. The cat population spreads with human, gets protection and food. Human acquire company and entertainment, factors in psychological wellbeing and relieving every day stress. Scientists have been studying co-operation relationships between many species and there are many examples (e.g. cows and bacteria in their intestines, plant - pollinator mutualism). I have also heard a theory that for example chloroplasts were initially separate autonomous life forms and at some point in the past they created relationship with other cells to create modern plants and this change gave one of them or both of them advantage. Human - cat relationship is an example of natural process and the success of feline species is an example of evolutionary success and great adaptation. Successful species will spread to other habitats and areas, hence we have more cats where people are. Finally cats are predators and they will hunt small animals. It is great to be able to observe nature and evolution in action!

  • Comment number 50.

    Bluepip 44, Whew, somebody who agrees with me.

    Eagle eyed 47, Then put up barbed-wire fences and a machine gun tower.

  • Comment number 51.

    I think the greedy cat should have had a kick up the bum by the camera man !!! I dont count this as nature !!

  • Comment number 52.

    Cats - a much needed debate. I am a cat owner, but feel some cat owners are irresponsible, and seem to be disturbingly proud when their cats bring home 3 birds (and a nest)! Every cat owner I know state their cats have brought back birds this spring (some as many as 10 a week). Cat owners should at the very least put a bell on the cat, and also shut them in during peak bird-feeding times (dawn and dusk) to avoid predation. They claim what the cats are doing 'is nature' but domestic cats are another human introduction and not native!!!

  • Comment number 53.

    51 Theplumbs - there is no 'cameraman', the cameras are remote controlled and watched at a distance in the big van. Otherwise the nest and other sites would be disturbed by a human presance.

    And please don't promote animal abuse on the Nature board.

  • Comment number 54.

    As a cat owner but also a great bird lover, I was horrified to see the predation of the warbler nest. Cat owners should keep their cats in at night and at sensitive times of the year when birds and other forms of wildlife are more vulnerable. Cats are naturally nocturnal, especially when young, but if you start by keeping them in at night they will accept it. Most of ours stay in during the day also, the exception being the semi-feral who is getting used to home comforts and tends not to stay out too long anyway. The predation in our garden tends to come from the Sparrowhawks.

  • Comment number 55.

    Cats have killed well over half the chicks born in our garden this year and mess in the veg and flower beds. Is it right that an animal that 'belongs' to someone else can do this and be protected by law. Cats should be microchipped and registered to their owners and kept on the owners property and owners should be legally responsable for cats escaping from that property and the damage they do.

  • Comment number 56.

    Thought the comments by LadyVespine were spot on! Our two cats that are allowed out at appropriate times wear elasticated belled collars, plus a flashing and beeping one!

  • Comment number 57.

    so...cats are evil predators, because they kill vermin and the odd bird...hahah, So maybe we should all get our cats put down and purchase dogs, preferably the sort that rip little childrens faces off...as there are already thousands of attacks by dogs every year on humans I consider this a FAR more serious matter than a small cat. some people just like to moan for moanings sake..

  • Comment number 58.

    i think its disgusting that birds are allowed to fly freely in the sky choosing at their freewill which garden they will land and go to toliet in, usually all down your window glass or on your freshly washed car. When will bird lovers become more responsible about where they feed and encourage birds to visit....I find it most annoying at the break of dawn to be woken by a squawking chorus of birds....I think ALL wild birds should be microchipped and have a licence to fly...my garden is certainly a no fly zone, enforced by my 20 cats.

  • Comment number 59.

    I think propagating this idea that domestic cats are massive wildlife hunters is a really dangerous and ill advised idea. People will start to harm them, poison them and villify them. Cats differ in their hunting habits. Some don't hunt at all. It is ridiculous to turn the whole Springwatch viewing population against domestic cats. We live in the country with masses of wildlife and have always had cats with no ill effects at all. They need to balance their comments.

  • Comment number 60.

    jjane5 -

    Domestic cats ARE massive wildlife hunters. It's a fact. (Not every individual domestic cat. Some aren't allowed to roam. Some are lazy and/or uninterested, or incapacitated by age or injury, or are just plain incompetent. But numerous studies have concluded that millions of small animals and birds are killed each year by domestic cats. And my own observation of my own two much loved, well fed and now deceased moggies backs this up. Among the prey they have brought in and in some cases consumed have been robins, wood pigeons, mice, rats, squirrels, frogs, slowworms and next door's goldfish. This presumably was only the tip of the iceberg. Other prey they will have abandoned or consumed outdoors. )

    Are you suggesting that we should cover up the truth out of fear of how other people might react to it? That's a very slippery slope to start down, don't you think? A truly dangerous and ill advised idea. I have more faith in the Springwatch viewing population than you, and in the Springwatch presenters. It didn't seem to me that they were attempting to turn us against cats, and I don't believe they could if they tried.

    What you could usefully do is explain in more detail how it was that you prevented your cats from attacking the surrounding wildlife. Kept them in at night? Fastened bells on them? Detered them with water pistols? Or have you bred a new non-predatory strain of feline?

  • Comment number 61.

    Dear Martincov
    If you have 'found dead birds that have been predated by them' presumably it was not a cat. 1. The cat would have eaten it and 2. If you actually SAW a cat doing it and so KNOW it to be a cay - you should have stopped it.

  • Comment number 62.

    Reading all the posts here the 'keep them in at night' thing keeps coming up and it is so ill informed. My cat has caught one bird so far this year and it was in the day - a fledgling. In the whole of his 7 years if he has ever caught a bird it has been in the day and it is only for a limited season. I think numbers would go UP if both birds and cats were active in the day together. Can you imagine! Is that what you want? I do everything I can to deter my cat catching birds. He is neutered, watched like a hawk and we have a plentiful array of bird feeding/sleeping places that are carefully placed. I am always amazed by the birdlife we get in our garden and we have enjoyed numerous baby robins and starlings in particular this year - among a whole host of others. Sadly we also have an increasing number of crows and magpies who patrol along the hedgeline picking off fledglings.
    It is easy to blame cats but your research is poor and unbalanced. All this 3 chages cat owners can make business is dangerous and ill-thought out. I said in my previous post, picking up dog poo does not adversly affect a dog. Walking it on a lead does not adversly affect a dog. Keeping cats in at night is against their crepuscular body clock and will adversly affect a cat. You want them to be active the same time as most birds - THEN YOU ARE NO BIRD LOVER AT ALL.
    Springwatch seems to want to ignore the fact that the RSPB, yes, the RSPB, say that cats are not responsible for the high figures of bird loss. SW is missing a whole debate on the human effect and continuing with its cat hating just to get a passionate story. For example, a large garden centre near me in West Sussex has recently revamped its site. It previously was surrounded by beech hedges, which sparrows always darted in and out of - a whole community of them. In order to be more visible it has bulldozered the whole area and planted a few spindly saplings in its place. What has happened to that community of sparrows? Please don't blame THAT on my cat. Ditto our neighbour has ripped up a whole area or hedges and mature planting to fit in a large summer house. The man down the road has pulled up his front garden and concreted it to make dive-in-drive-out access. People are equally - if not more of a problem. You know, I have no confidence this little cat-cam experiment that Springwatch is featuring is going to be balanced and fair. From what I have seen so far it is just going to stoke the cat hating boiler with the most ridiculous suggestions and comparisons. So springwatch - sorry, but I don't think I will be watch you anymore.

  • Comment number 63.

    Hi-Coo, my comment was said tongue in cheek about the camera man kicking the cat, and as for animal abuse....please.....I think thats what happened to the poor birds by the pesky cat.

  • Comment number 64.

    Dear Birdwatch
    It is always sad when a cat catches a bird, especially a precious one, but if you observe what goes on in your garden, what about sparrowhawks, magpies, crows, and other bird-eat-bird activity: or squirrels and pigeons eating cuter birds' food: and foxes and other mammals....you eventually come to the conclusion that cats are just one part of the whole scene: and they catch mice which seek out bird food in the garage and invade your house and breed there. Come on, this is not Disneyworld. Bells can endanger cats by revealing them to their predators- dogs, humans or whatever (how would you like it?) and dear-oh-dear what a lack of common sense or knowledge over elasticated collars. If you fit the collar loosely, as you should, then it can catch and trap the cat: the elastic enables the cat to escape. You don't really need a collar if you have your cat chipped when it is neutered (and of course you have them neutered- have you heard of spraying?) You should see our cat being terrorised by blackbirds....

  • Comment number 65.

    FrancisQu1 61, In my experience, cats usually play with birds, mice, etc and quit when they are dead. They somtimes bite their heads off. Our chicken and a visiting cat chased each other around to get ahold of a mouse. They stopped when it got lost in the bushes.

  • Comment number 66.

    tania 58 Amen to that! Especially after the birds have eaten elderberries. All birds should have a cork put in them.

  • Comment number 67.

    Thanks davmcn - but my experience is opposite.......perhaps I don't feed my cat enough!

  • Comment number 68.

    FrancesQu1 Unfortunately, because our cats are all now gone and our catflap remains open. we now feed a visiting cat from around the corner. He does, however have a bell on his collar. Chwis comes around to unclog it for us.

  • Comment number 69.

    May I put put what I think is being missed in this cat/bird issue.

    As retired smallholder I and my wife have tried to farm in tune with nature and as well as feed the birds,we have found that vested interest like the blood sports as well as some farmers/growers use any excuse to divert attention away from their practices and pastimes ,and like to blame the cat or magpies etc for song bird demise.

    For example they will use such illogical arguments like if there are x number of cats , each one takes x number of birds then they come up with a figure of x millions birds,well not all cats take birds,many of the strays we ended up with never had a bird ,rabbits rats yes and some other mammals yes ,maybe the reason why the'Mammal Society ' like to blame cats for the demise of song birds.

    Another fact being ignored is the number of feral cats kept on some farms often belong to those who blame cats for song bird demise,as members of 'Cats Protection' we have managed to get many cats neutered and keep the numbers down. Then there are other irresponsible breeding of cats ,surely the answer is to work with the hard pressed charities to stem this bad human habit,rather than push the blame onto felines

  • Comment number 70.

    PS Yes keep cats in at night for the sake of the birds and the cat,otherwise don't complain about some cats taking song birds

  • Comment number 71.

    I have just put this message on the 'Changes for Cat people' topic, but want to post it on this thread to so it is seen and understood:
    I am totally confussed as to how we reach the figure of 55 million birds being killed by cats. Did someone count the bodies? How was this research done - because it seems to be pivitol. In my confussion, I visited the RSPB website - a Society that has bird's interests at heart remember - and put cat predation into the search box. This is a direct quote from an article that came up BY THE RSPB.
    "Despite the large numbers of birds killed, there is no scientific evidence that predation by cats in gardens is having any impact on bird populations UK-wide. This may be surprising, but many millions of birds die naturally every year, mainly through starvation, disease, or other forms of predation. There is evidence that cats tend to take weak or sickly birds.
    It is likely that most of the birds killed by cats would have died anyway from other causes before the next breeding season. We also know that of the millions of baby birds hatched each year, most will die before they reach breeding age. This is also quite natural, and each pair needs only to rear two young that survive to breeding age to replace themselves and maintain the population.
    It is likely that most of the birds killed by cats would have died anyway from other causes before the next breeding season, so cats are unlikely to have a major impact on populations."
    The above excerpt is from an RSPB article I must stress - and I would like Chris Packham and the rest of you to take note. Now, about that glib 55million figure...

  • Comment number 72.

    I'm on a roll - here is another 'factfile' from the RSPB on cat predation. Quite interesting I think:
    '•Cats are individuals: their behaviour varies widely. Some will be prolific hunters; some may catch nothing at all. Town cats live at higher densities than country cats. Although each town cat will catch fewer prey overall than a country cat, their prey will include a higher proportion of birds.

    •Most cats are opportunistic hunters they will catch whatever they come across rather than actively hunting a particular species. This means whatever is most abundant or vulnerable is most likely to be caught. Cats will catch prey even if they are not hungry.

    •According to a recent major survey by the Mammal Society, birds comprise a relatively small proportion (about 20%) of all the creatures caught by cats. Most of the rest of their catches will be mice or voles.

    •It often seems that cats catch more birds than small mammals. This is because birds are mainly caught during the day, so you are more likely to see it, while mice and voles are mainly caught at night.'

    Again - from the RSPB - who one would think of as an authority on this. So now Springwatch, if you could re-address the topic?

  • Comment number 73.

    perceptionok 70 If cats only killed non-song birds, would we hear them doing it?

  • Comment number 74.

    here is another 'factfile' from the RSPB on cat predation. Quite interesting I think:

    Gardens may provide a breeding habitat for at least 20% of the UK populations of house sparrows, starlings, greenfinches, blackbirds and song thrushes four of which are declining across the UK. For this reason it would be prudent to try to reduce cat predation, as, although it is not causing the declines, some of these species are already under pressure.

  • Comment number 75.

    Tania Point 58: Lovely ironic post. Really made me laugh - well done. I feel your frustration!

  • Comment number 76.

    HiCoo74. Yep, the key point that most of we cat people are trying to stress is in the last line of your post; 'although not causing the decline'. We dont doubt that some cats take birds - its the massive hate and blame cluture of cats single handedly (pawed?) eating every bird in sight and causing their demise as a species that most of us are trying to argue against.
    We all know that is down to the increasing human population. If everyone crosses their legs and keeps it in their trousers for a couple of years the human population in the UK will not explode so much. Our front gardens, hedgerows and green and brownfield sites will be safe and we can see if the results work. Let's hear it for a human curfew!

  • Comment number 77.

    perceptionok 69 I've been waiting for the 'we're all missing something' post.

  • Comment number 78.

    I have had a cat since I left home, my first one was one of two kittens dumped on my sisters doorstep, she had one and so did I, we had always had dogs at home and neither of us could see them put down or left in a shelter. I never left my cat out at night, but she did go out during the day, until she got much older (she was 17 when she died), in her life she did bring a couple of birds home, always alive where she would release them in the house and I would have to try to get them and release, with my present cat who is 11 now, she doesn`t go out unless I`m in the garden, she has caught a couple of fledglings, I think because they are not as quick as the parent bird, even with me in the garden with her she does this, so yes cats do catch birds she hasn`t killed any as she brings them to me.Amazingly when I have checked the birds they are obviously shocked but no other injuries. I have kept them quiet until they are ready and the shock has worn off a bit then release them back into the garden so the parent birds can find them, max 5 mins.
    Having witnessed this and yes I do feed birds in my garden and they do come to my feeders etc, I have found my cat is quite happy to laze in the house day & especially night and watch birds from the window rather then going out. I have always had my cats spayed as there are too many unwanted ones in the country, and owners of cats who do there best to keep cats under control, seem to be tarred with the same brush as those who do not look after their animals.
    It is an awful truth that yes cats are predators, and they do kill a large number of birds and small mammals, but as Springwatch has pointed out, the mink does the same, but we really have no idea how many of these are in the wild, and they are not native to this country (like the cat), if memory serves they were released from a facility by so called nature lovers, where they have had a devastating effect on such animals as the water vole. Also up to a few years ago, toxic insecticides over farming, habitat loss, hedges being ripped up have all took there toll on Britains bird & mammal life.
    So please don`t blame everything on the household cat, I know they can be a problem, but mainly from people who don`t really watch their pets, a cat can be a lovely companion if we learn to take steps, and there are a great number being dumped and left to either fend for themselves ,like my first one or die..

  • Comment number 79.

    Has anybody here considered the fact that birds also catch and eat everything from insects to small mammals to other birds? I think these wild beasts should be kept in cages, made to wear collars with bells, or exterminated. There, I got that off my chest and feel better for it. Off to the pub for lunch. Hope a bird doesn't poo on me on the way.

  • Comment number 80.

    PS Chwis could poke the poo.

  • Comment number 81.

    Every cat has its own individual hunting strategies and tastes. My previous cat, around 25 years ago, was an enthusiastic hunter of slowworms which she would bring in through the cat flap and abandon when they'd play dead. A few died because I didn't discover them till days later, a number dropped their tails but were otherwise unhurt, but most of them I returned to the gorse slope in my back garden completely uninjured. I never would have suspected that they were present if she hadn't found them, and nor did I ever see one " in the wild", but they were obviously locally very abundant. One summer I marked each one one before returning it (with a drop of nail varnish) to see if it would get caught a second time, but I never found a marked individual.

    This cat, a spayed female, quite obviously treated me as a substitute kitten, who needed to be fed and taught hunting skills. Whenever she brought in prey she had a particular summoning mew, somewhat muffled because her mouth was full, and she would then drop the victim, alive in most cases, somewhere conspicuous, for me to deal with. The only ones she attempted to eat herself were mice and rats and squirrels, night time catches which I'd find the remains of in the morning.

    My next cat, a neutered tom, had diametrically opposite habits. He never mewed when he brought in prey, though if in the house I knew he'd caught something because he had a special "bounding" gait that sounded quite different from usual as he climbed the stairs. He objected strongly to efforts to remove his victims from him, retreating under the dining room table with them and giving a distinctive warning "keep off" threatening hum if I persisted. (At all other times he was sociable, confiding, vocal and demonstrously affectionate.) And he never once brought back a slowworm.

  • Comment number 82.

    whilst we like to control everthing you never can never stop a cat from hunting especilly a female she is the hunter! it is instinct but we can be more responsible, you can keep said cat in at night put a litter tray down ect this will cut 50% of kills as cats are naturly nocturnal hunters they only hang around us because we feed them. generally the older the mog the less hunting they do. Hear in south east london i have never had so many Goldfinch best season ever! i have pure Niger,+Finch Premium which has niger mixed in they go mad over this mix!+ i have fat balls+suet pellets they are as common in my se london garden as greenfinch and house sparrow can any say they have had a good Goldfinch season sofar? Byfornow

  • Comment number 83.

    Well it seems that there will always be an anti cat brigade out there, thanks Tania for bringing a smile to my face today! Let's not overlook the good things that cats do, the local old folk's home has a cat which the residents adore, also there are a lot of surburban chicken keepers out there, my neighbour falls into this category, my cat has scoffed many a rodent which probably wouldn't be there if not for the chicken feed, plus, my cat makes me happy as do my two rabbits. Can we get on with something useful now? For example working on banning slug pellets to protect our hedgehogs? Campaigning for a government initiative for a two child only family, (let us humans take some responsibility for spreading into other species natural habitat!) Personally although an animal lover, I am none too keen on the city centre pigeons, herring gulls and rats. Strangely my local council did not take to my suggestion of introducing snakes for pest control!

  • Comment number 84.

    to the stupid human being who said cats should be treated the same way as grey squirrels.its ok for human beings to destroy the planet and get away with that.mabe some humans should be culled,not mentionng any names.wayne

  • Comment number 85.

    As a bird watcher and cat owner I can see both sides of the arguments although our cats are always in at night and discouraged from too much interest in the bird feeders with a hosepipe! However, I have noticed that the birds seem to know the cats, when the old boy is out in the garden he is almost completely ignored by the birds. I have seen blackbirds feeding on the lawn no more than six feet from him knowing full well he is there. All the birds are much more wary of the two younger ones, as they are of strange cats in the garden.

  • Comment number 86.

    Can Chris Packham explain why cats should be in at night in the fledgling season and not in the day as well?
    My cats are always in at night, and during the nesting season, in the day as well, as we actively encourage birds into the garden and wish to give them every chance to survive

  • Comment number 87.

    We have a huge variety of birds in our garden and also have a cat. The blackbirds in particular ignore our cat and the cat just watches the birds. She has never brough a bird in, just a few mice.

  • Comment number 88.

    Hi, Please can you let me know where i can purchase the new sonic [laser] cat collars from!?

  • Comment number 89.

    Had to post a few last minute comments on the great cat debate! Many years ago I had a cat that did the same as Attenboroughaddict's: mewing when it had a live catch. This always resulted in my tramping across the fields, clutching a large jug containing shrew (one bit me!), vole or mouse, usually in the small hours of the morning.

    However, I have to agree with FranesQui about the impact we have on wildlife. Where we live, the majority of gardens on our road have been covered either with tarmac or paving. There are no hedges and many trees have been felled, thus reducing nesting sites. We have a totally organic garden with five bird feeders, sited well away from feline interference, although it doesn't stop squirrels and magpies, (thanks to Winterwatch, by the way, for the birdcake recipe, on which our nesting blue tits have been feeding their young - perhaps they were short on live food as the weather was particularly bad at the time). I think the finger of blame for wildlife decline is pointed all too often at predators such as cats when, in fact, all these creatures have co-existed with each other for thousands of years without too much trouble. The real problem lies in the continued expansion of the human race: there are just too many of us using up all the resources of this planet, to the detriment of the other species; we seem to forget that they have as much right to life as we do.

  • Comment number 90.

    I have been reading all the comments posted about cats, I love my cat and I love wildlife, my cat has been attacked by something twice this month and has been very very ill, so cats can be picked on too. He hunts very rarely, has two bells on his collar just in case, but my big question is how do you all keep your cats in at night, I wouldn't get a night's sleep and he'd shred the house to pieces. I must say for his safetly I prefer him to be active at night because there is very little traffic about.

  • Comment number 91.

    daisy 84 I thought I was the grumpy one here.

  • Comment number 92.

    All the talk of cats & birds is totally drawing attention away from what I see as an urgent situation!
    My parents have lived in their village home in the Midlands for over 50 years. When we were kids, we fed the birds. Sparrows, blackbirds, bluetits, the usual. Their were cats about, and lots of trees and bushes.
    Now there are no cats in their neighbourhood, not many trees left due to low maintenance gardens, and NO GARDEN BIRDS. Yes, it's in capitals as it's no exaggeration! They haven't seen so much as a sparrow for years! They've tried feeders but the seeds & nuts go mouldy, untouched. The only birds they see are rooks and jackdaws.
    They are surrounded by intensive farming, close to Radcliffe power station and beneath E Midlands flightpath. I repeat, there are no cats in their neighbourhood, and even if there were, they would not be responsible for such a total loss of species. Something more sinister is going on, I'm sure.
    I moved to the south coast 25 years ago, not far from where Chris Packham lives. My overgrown garden is surrounded by farms & feral cats. As I type this I watch a flock of sparrows on the table. Long tails on the fat balls. Baby blue tits, flycatchers, redstarts, blackbirds the lot.
    I imagine Chris Packham, in the New Forest, must have similar bird life. I don't think he truly knows how bad the situation is in some places of the country, and nothing will get done, or investigated, while we keep blaming cats!

  • Comment number 93.

    Too many cats, people, computers, pubs, clubs and politicians. Let's start with the politicians.......
    If a cat or politician enters my garden, I reserve the right to shout at them.

    FIN

  • Comment number 94.

    Re: Cat predation/fining owners: I heard secondhand about the comments on fining cat owners. I have 6 cats, only 1 is an occasional predator and I'll be investing in a collar. After speaking to an RSPCA Manager of a cat rescue centre, I was informed that the biggest problem comes from the many feral colonies and homeless cats throughout the country (contact your local RSPCA for facts and figures). Isn't it time a nationwide neutering programme was put in place - surely funding could be found from the many animal organisations, tv stations (yes, you, BBC), the government and every veterinary practice? If everyone actually worked together this problem could be reduced immensely and there would be far fewer stray cats and less suffering. Rather than whingeing about the problem, do something about it!

  • Comment number 95.

    I must agree with mike d, the programme has become over dominated with birds. Perhaps the BBC could spread the range of wildlife to be studied in the next series.

  • Comment number 96.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

 

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