Cats and Birds

A study by the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, found that free-roaming housecats — feral cats and household pets that are allowed outside all or part of the time — kill 1.4 to 3.7 billion birds each year in the U.S.

According to The American Bird Conservancy, this is the greatest human-caused mortality threat to birds.

Ground-dwelling birds are most at risk to free-roaming cats. Robins, towhees, sparrows and thrushes spend much of their time on the ground or low in shrubs searching for insects and seeds and nestlings are especially vulnerable when they leave the nest and are incapable of sustained flight.

Cats are very effective predators and hunting is instinctive for them even if they are well-fed. Cats are not part of the natural wildlife of North America, and if allowed to behave so, do enormous damage. The best way we can reduce the impact on wildlife from cats is to spay and neuter our pets and keep them indoors.

Please keep your cat indoors!

Outdoor cats are a year-round threat to birds and small animals such as bats, chipmunks, snakes, lizards and rodents. These agile and skillful predators, roaming domestic and feral cats are the #1 human-related source of bird deaths in Canada.

Not only do outdoor cats threaten native wildlife, but they also face various dangers while unsupervised outside such as cars, diseases, toxins, cat theft and more!

The Canadian Veterinary Medical Association  recommends that veterinarians discourage the unsupervised roaming of owned cats due to the health and welfare risks to individual cats, their potential contribution to the stray and feral populations, impacts on wildlife populations, and increased zoonotic public health risk.

VARC $1,000 Catio Contest!
Consider building a catio for your feline friend.

Catios, or cat patios, are cat enclosures that provide enrichment, fresh air, and the stimulation of nature as well as ensures safety for your cat from the outdoors while protecting wildlife too.

No matter where you live, whether you have a backyard or a balcony, a catio is the purrfect hangout spot for you and your cat during the warmer weather. If you want to know how to build a catio but are not sure where to start,  click on the ‘VARC Catio Contest’ link above for tips and information to help you get started.

Impact on the environment:

  • Cats kill between 4 and 5 million birds each day in North America alone
  • Collar bells don’t work
  • Ground nesting and ground feeding birds and birds that visit feeders are most susceptible
  • Fledglings are frequently caught by cats while they are learning to fly
  • Most birds caught are not killed outright but die of injuries and infection
  • Cats infected with Toxoplasma gondii spread this parasite through their feces, creating a human health risk as well as potentially infecting birds and other mammals

Impact on cats:

  • Cars kill millions of cats each year
  • Outdoor cats are vulnerable to injury by other cats and predation from coyotes and other predators
  • Parasites are health threats – fleas, ticks and worms
  • Outdoor cats require more medical treatment
  • Life spans of outdoor cats is much shorter

Please visit the Stewardship Centre for BC and browse through their Cats and Birds pages and explore ways you can help make British Columbia a safer place for cats, birds and other wildlife!