I have only today heard about the cat bib. It shows you how big the internet is. The “cat bib” is a device that stops the domestic cat catching birds and other species of animal, and killing them. It is a triangular shaped piece of soft, washable material that hangs from the cat’s collar. It simply presents a barrier between prey and cat. “It defeats all the cat’s stealth and cunning at exactly the moment it’s needed…” It is meant to be worn when your cat goes out but can be left on all the time as it is claimed to not interfere with the normal activities of a domestic cat except hunting.
The 64,000 dollar question is: Is it a good idea? Well, it depends on how we relate to our cats and nature in general. As I see it there are two ways of approaching this product.
FOR: The manufacturers say that it is 81% successful and therefore is effective in stoping cats killing birds. This is a good thing many would argue. Cats kill billions of birds some people say. We must protect native species from the invasive species that is the domestic cat. However, people, including bird conservationists over egg the cake when discussing the data about cats killing birds. It is not as bad as they make out. The fact is we don’t have reliable information on the impact of the domestic and feral cat on native animal species, despite what people claim.
NOT SO SURE: As far as I can see no one has asked what the cat might feel with a fairly large piece of material hanging from his or her collar (your cat will have to wear a collar to use this). And how does the cat react to being prevented from expressing natural behaviour? Does the cat bib stress the cat slightly? We need to ask ourselves how we might feel if a major part of our natural activity was terminated at a stroke.
The cat bib seems to be one more product that further domesticates the domestic cat and reduces its natural behaviour. How far do we go to modify our cat’s natural behaviour and appearance? Breeders have created some odd looking purebred cats and this product seems to be designed to assuage our guilt at knowing that our cat might kill birds. This seems to be a bit similar to declawing only much more humane of course. But it is designed to modify behaviour or more precisely to curtail the effectiveness of natural behaviour. Declawing stops natural cat scratching behaviour and the cat bib stops natural cat hunting behaviour. How unnatural do we want our cats?
In defence of our cat companions, the cat bib looks wrong to me. I certainly would not buy one. It also looks ugly on a cat. A minor point perhaps but a point nonetheless.
But I see the argument. It is good from the bird’s standpoint and from the standpoint of protecting wild species of animal. The more important point is that people can do things that have a far greater impact on increasing bird population numbers without interfering with a cat’s natural behaviour.
We can stop damaging bird habitats. By far the greatest damage to all wildlife is due to habitat loss which in turn is due to human population growth and increased human activity. Can’t we talk about the unmentionable, human population growth, and deal with that? We will have to one day.
Also, as mentioned, we need to recognise that the killing of birds by domestic cats is highly exaggerated in my opinion.
In conclusion, I understand the reason behind manufacturing this product but don’t like the way a domestic cat’s behaviour is being further modified. If we want to protect wildlife we should first look at ourselves and ask what we can do. It is careless and convenient to blame to cat.