Saturday, April 2, 2016

Birds and Cats

What is it with birds and cats? From the cartoons to real life, we see that our feathered friends are sooo very attractive to cats. Why?

B is for Birds: Birds and Cats

As part of the A to Z blogging challenge, today's letter is: B. My topic today is Birds and Cats.

Cat's Fascination with Birds

It's a little after eight in the morning, and already I've chased Groucho off of the bluebird house in our backyard. The man who built our home (and who we consider a friend now) gave us a lovely handmade bluebird house as a gift after we moved in. Another friend gave me a bluebird house, and my husband built me several. We placed them around the yard and lovingly watched our new tenants.

Until this happened:

At first, we thought it was funny. Then one morning I looked out of my kitchen window and saw to my horror that Groucho, our tiniest cat, was on top of the bird house like his brother Whitey above. Except that Grouch leaned over and very casually fished into the birdhouse, snagging a baby bluebird which he was drawing very carefully from the nest.

I raced outside and managed to unhook the terrified bird from his claws and shove it back into the nest. Scruffed, cuffed and I hope chastened, Groucho was marched into the house, where he eagerly watched the birdhouse from the windows for another hour.

He's still a menace to the birds. He tried it again this morning, except that the nest was empty.

The scene of the crime....

Birds and Cats

According to the Perfect Paws website, all cats are born with a hunting instinct. Whether that instinct is strong or weak depends on the individual cat. It doesn't matter how well-fed or domesticated the cat. Motion, such as the fluttering of wings or the scampering of rodent feet, attracts the attention of cats.

Once their attention is caught, cats go into the stalk-pounce-grab mode. The stalking mode is familiar to pet parents everywhere. The cat's pupils dilate, and it goes into the hunter's crouch. The hindquarters may wiggle as the cat's muscles twitch in anticipation of the pounce. (Known to us in this house as: wiggle butt.)

Then, when the moment is right, the cat springs into action. The pouncing, grab, kill motion completes the cycle whether a cat is stalking a bird, a mouse, or his favorite toy.

Preventing Bird Deaths from Cats

The only way that I know of to prevent cats from killing songbirds in the garden is to put a collar with a bell on the cat. If you do put a collar on your cat, make sure it is the 'breakaway' kind that if caught on a branch or fence, stretches or opens so as not to harm your cat. The bell tinkles as the cat moves, warning birds of impending doom.

Now this is all well and good, but I find I can't take my own advice. The last time I tried to put collars on the outdoor cats, Shy Boy, Groucho's brother, thought it was great fun to grab the end of the collar tab and pull. I caught him just in time as he was choking his brother with Groucho's own collar. So much for collars. Whitey is like Houdini, wriggling out of his collar seconds after it's on and Shy Shy wants to kill his brother in play. So I'm safer without them.

I am home most of the time. I work from home, and so when I spy Groucho stalking his prey, or climbing on top of the bluebird house the way Whitey did above, I can catch him and bring him indoors. Usually after an hour or so he settles down for a nap on my bed and forgets all about the bluebirds.

Until next time.

Cats and birds...what's your experience? Leave a comment below!

Groucho, adorable but a confirmed bird hunter.


  1. My cat loves to watch the birds but she never, as far as I know, kills one. She brings in other prey - mice etc - but has never presented us with a bird. Came here via A to Z. I love cat blogs so will visit again. That's Purrfect

  2. Lovely pictures of your cats :)

    We have two indoor cats, but one has just started spending some time outside while we're in the backyard. So far she hasn't paid that much attention to the birds, but she loves to find the bugs!

    We have a neighbourhood cat that likes to sit under our birdfeeder, though. So far I haven't seen it catch any birds, but who knows what it does in other people's yards.

    Tracy (Black Boots, Long Legs)

  3. When I was a kid growing up, back in the days when we had Living Rooms that were ONLY used for company, and a nice large glass ashtray was always on the coffee table, we had a cat who would bring in dead birds and put them in said ashtray and they wouldn't be found until the weekly dusting. Enjoy the A to Z blog!
    @ScarlettBraden from
    Frankly Scarlett

  4. I guess it's just nature. The cats are acting on their instincts. Still not nice to see though, I'm glad you managed to save the little bird!

  5. Beautiful pics of your babies :-)
    The neighbour's cat stays clear of my chickens and the guinea fowl, targeting only the pigeons (easy prey for her) and the smaller birds (they usually flee when she climbs over the wall). My Rottweilers like to place the pigeons or rats they've caught at my feet like some weird offering before they eat their prey... Good luck with the rest of the challenge.

  6. Oh, man... I hear you. I haven't had cats for a while, but it was always torture to find the results of their hunts. I do have dogs, and they do it, too... For some reason, they hate pigeons, and they'll kill them if they catch them (which isn't often, thankfully). They also hunt iguanas and lizards and mice... I interfere when I catch it happening, and they do listen—they look at me, all confused, as if saying, 'Stupid human, it's food' :D—but once in a while I'll not be home or be too immersed in writing or whatever and... well.

    So glad you were able to rescue that baby bird!
    Guilie @ Life In Dogs (and member of co-host Damyanti's team, D's Company )

  7. Lovely pictures of your cats. I'm partial to birds in the whole scheme of things, so we keep our cat indoors, but we used to have a mouser when we had chickens. @abetterjulie from

  8. My cats are indoor only, but I think a breakaway collar with a bell is a good idea.