Domestic Cats Belong Indoors:
According to recent research, it is estimated that outdoor cats kill 2.4 billion birds in the United States each year. This makes cat predation the largest of many threats to the stability of our bird populations.
Here is what the National Audubon Society states on its website:
Audubon strongly believes that cats belong indoors. That's safer for them and for the birds. Feral and free-roaming cats are subject to injury, disease, and predation. We urge communities around the country to adopt effective measures to counter problems suffered and caused by cats and to vigorously enforce existing rules and procedures.
We fully understand the gravity of the issue of the threats cats present to birds. Cats - particularly feral cats - are a leading cause of bird deaths. National Audubon Society has long supported a "Cats Indoors" campaign urging pet owners to keep their cats indoors for the safety of both their pets and birds. Audubon has guidelines on how to keep both birds and cats safe at www.audubon.org. We've had this guidance on our web site for years and we think it's good, common sense.
Pilchuck Audubon follows the same philosophy - cats belong indoors and feral cats are a problem for bird populations. There is a growing population of cats, both domestic and feral, and many of our bird populations are suffering - from climate change, habitat loss and environmental toxins, as well as cat predation. Solutions for all these problems need to be found if we are to keep bird species safe.
A note on Trap, Neuter, Release – There are some organizations which make it their mission to trap feral cats, neuter them, and then release the cat back into the community. Audubon finds two major problems with this approach to controlling feral cats. One, there are now so many feral cats that reducing their population through this method is not possible. Second, this action does nothing to stop the predation of cats on birds and mammals.
The American Bird Conservancy (ABC) has done a great job of working on this problem. For ideas on how to keep your cat happily indoors, please visit this webpage.
CATIOS – A WIN-WIN SOLUTION
A catio – or “cat patio” – is an outdoor enclosure that keeps pet cats and wildlife safe. Catios offer pet cats healthy exercise time as well as safety from outdoor hazards like cars, predators and poisons. It’s a win-win!
When it comes to cat enclosures, there are many options. Choose a pre-made pen, a kit, or design one yourself. Furnish it creatively: old tree stumps and perches for climbing and scratching opportunities; planted boxes of cat-friendly turf and other vegetation; tarps to provide shade and protection from the elements; even enclosed ladders for safe access to and from the house.
There are many resources for commercial and DIY catios. To start, check this website: www.catiospaces.com.