Curb Cat Predation
Our feline friends kill untold millions of songbirds and other small animals in Canada every year.
They’re partly to blame for the near extinction of certain species, including the prothonotary warbler, a tiny forest songbird found in southern Ontario. They also account for a high percentage of the injured wildlife admitted to rehabilitation centres. Cat owners are often unaware of the major danger their pets pose to songbirds — it’s hard to believe the tabby that sits on your lap is one of the most lethal hunters in the animal kingdom.
Songbirds have enough problems without this unnecessary threat. If a feline feeding frenzy is jeopardizing wildlife near you, there are steps you can take.
- Take stray cats to an animal shelter, where they’ll have a chance to find good homes and won’t be adding to the feral population.
- Make sure songbird habitats aren’t feline friendly. Install cone-shaped predator guards on nesting trees, mark sensitive areas with scent repellent, and plant dense vegetation along a forest edge (see "Plant a Forest Buffer").
- Mount an awareness campaign aimed at cat owners:
- Address the impact of free-roaming felines on wild populations in a flyer that students can distribute locally or through a public service announcement on a community radio station.
- Know your facts. Get information from a local branch of the SPCA, the Humane Society, or a wild bird care centre. Discuss the effects that the estimated six million cats in Canada would have if they each killed just one bird.
- Urge cat owners to keep their pets indoors, especially when young birds are learning to fly. (Indoor living is safer for cats as well, because it protects them from the dangers of traffic, disease, and larger predators.)
- Dispel myths about felines — for example, that declawed, well-fed cats with bells on their collars won’t harm wild animals. Research has proven otherwise. Cat owners should also be aware that feline predation is not “natural.” Domestic cats have never been part of the natural food chain in Canada.