Perhaps it is time for cat owners/lovers to do something which pleases people who like birds; to stop the war of words and try to ameliorate the situation and the situation is that cat owners are criticised for letting their outdoor cats prey on birds.
For bird lovers the situation looks worse than it really is in my opinion. Yes, cats do prey on birds but birds are not their primary prey item. Mice and other rodents are. But it is time to try and do something about it and I think a new short statute, written in straighforward language may help to appease ornithologists and demonstrate to them that cat owners are sensitive to their arguments.
It is said that putting a bell on your cat reduces bird predation by 45%. Apparently, song thrushes really suffer in cities because of cats. The problem with bells on collars is that cats get used to the bell and they find ways to keep it quiet. One cat owner said that her cat puts a paw against the bell to keep it quiet which is extraordinary. It is said that cats learn to keep their heads still to stop the bell ringing. The way to counter this is to change the bell regularly or put two or three bells on the collar.
The argument against this suggestion is that it is unfair on the cat. How would you like it if you had a bell ringing in your ear all the time as you moved? And cats have fantastic hearing – better than ours. It would be a form of torture. That may be an extreme statement but it may be unpleasant to a cat and also it may be unpleasant or unfair to stop a cat expressing his natural desires.
There is a better cat collar which is based upon our knowledge of a bird’s eyesight. Birds see colour very well because they use colour for foraging and breeding. Therefore they quickly see a brightly coloured moving collar. And there is one on the market which is wide and brightly coloured and which it is said is effective against bird predation by domestic cats.
It is ineffective with respect to mice, amphibians and reptiles but this discussion is about how to protect birds from cats because whenever there is an argument about cats preying on native species it often comes from ornithologists and bird lovers.
Therefore, it might be a good idea to introduce a new animal welfare law which makes it mandatory for outside cats to wear a wide, brightly coloured collar as shown in the photograph on this page.
Could such a law be enforced? I think that it could because there are enough people who are concerned about cats preying on birds and these people could be the eyes of the police. Cat owners being aware of this would be pressured into fitting such a collar to their cat. The collar would not irritate a cat except he/she would find it somewhat difficult to approach a bird because the bird would see the collar from a distance and fly off.
Having read large swathes of the internet with respect to cat behaviour of all kinds including predation, I know that there is a simmering conflict between ornithologists and cat lovers and I think it is time to do something about it; something formal which makes it clear in no uncertain terms that cat owners are doing their best to compromise their cat’s behaviour in the interests of other animals while allowing their cat to go outside if they see fit.
Years have gone by with this simmering conflict in the background. I really think it is time to do something concrete. It would also make cat haters take a softer approach towards cats. Cat owners don’t want people hating cats. People who hate cats like to hurt them. We need to appease these people to protect our cats.