Protecting your garden wildlife
- Millions of birds are caught by cats each year. You can help stop the feathers flying by siting bird feeders near prickly bushes such as holly or by hanging them on a thin metal pole that cats can’t climb.
- Don’t give cats the chance to hide in low trees or bushes and ambush birds while they’re feeding nearby. Make sure feeders are not too close to possible cat hiding places.
- Wooden bird tables can be made safer by putting obstructions on the pole to stop cats from climbing up. They’re sometimes called 'baffles' and deter squirrels too. You can buy these from most wildlife suppliers.
- If the lid of a bird box isn’t secure, the nesting family become a sitting target. Make sure it's fixed to keep chicks safe from cats and squirrels.
- Look around when you’re siting a nest box: make sure it’s not accessible to cats from a branch or top of a wall. Chicks are vulnerable!
- Strange as it may sound, the more birds you attract to your garden, the less likely cats are to catch them as there are more pairs of eyes keeping watch. Check out our top tips for attracting birds.
- Sonar devices, chemicals or even specific plants can be useful deterrents. Coleus Canina gives off a nasty niff that cats steer clear of. Make sure that they are not harmful to cats and other animals though.
Advice for cat owners
- Put a couple of bells on your cat’s collar to give the birds a warning alarm. One might not be enough as cats can learn to move without sounding the bell. Make sure it's a collar with a quick release mechanism in case it gets caught – we want safe cats as well as safe birds!
- If several bells don't help, don't despair. The BTO (British Trust for Ornithology) found that a sonic device emitting a regular signal more than halved the number of birds caught.
- One of the best things you can do to keep wildlife safe is to keep your cat in at night. Sunset and sunrise are the times of day when cats like prowling most – and the time they catch the most wildlife. They’re also the times of day your cat’s most likely to be run over. So it’s a good idea to keep them in.