Cats and Birds

cat on bird house

cat on bird house

Cats can cause havoc in the garden with the bird population, as every cat owner is well aware, and no one enjoys it when their cat catches a bird. If you want to have any bird-feeding devices in your garden, such as a bird table, bear in mind that you are putting temptation in your cat’s way and, most importantly, be sure to position them in the open so that your cat is denied the cover that it needs for stalking.

Nesting boxes and bird tables are a great source of temptation for cats. Make sure that you site them in the open and also fit a bell to your cat’s collar as a warning for birds.

No matter what precautions you try to take, your cat will probably catch a bird at some stage, even if you don’t have a bird table in your garden. Cats don’t usually eat the birds they catch because hunger is not the reason they hunt; instinct drives them to go after birds. If your cat has caught a bird and leaves it injured, it’s best to place it very carefully in a closed, ventilated box lined with something soft. As soon as possible, try to get advice from a veterinarian or an animal welfare organisation.

Cats do not catch birds just to be naughty — it is their natural instinct to hunt, with competition and demonstration being their prime motives rather than hunger, and there’s little you can do to stop them. You can, however, reduce the chances of your cat making a successful kill and there are various ways in which you can do this.


The most successful answer is probably not to feed birds in the garden at all, as having a cat and attracting birds to the garden might be viewed as having the best of both worlds. If you really want to feed birds in your garden, you should at least make sure that any food or feeding devices are always located in the open, so that the cats are deprived of any cover for stalking birds at the table.


In addition, it is a good idea to fit your cat’s collar with a bell, which gives the birds some warning of the cats presence. This doesn’t always work, though, and there are many cats that manage to return home with their feathered victims in spite of being ‘belled’.

However, none of these methods to prevent your cat hunting birds is foolproof, so be prepared for a few casualties on the way. It’s also possible that by preventing your cat from following its natural instinct, that it will resort to other behaviour, such as spraying in the house, out of frustration.

Domestic cats don’t kill birds to satisfy their hunger — they simply do it for the fun of it. However, they are driven to do this by their instinct.

The cat’s vision, hearing and sense of smell are all primarily adapted for efficiency in hunting, not to mention its mobile whiskers, which act like antennae during the hunt.

Castrated toms make just as good hunters as entire ones.

Cats often deposit the unfortunate birds they have caught on the doormat. Like any hunter, they are simply bringing their trophy home to their owner, as a token of their esteem.