Making your cat more wildlife-friendly
Appeared on Space For Nature on September 26th 2003
Many people who enjoy hosting wildlife in their garden are also cat owners. Unfortunately, our cats often provide a quite different welcome for the wildlife! An estimated 300 million small animals are killed each year in this country by cats; but there are steps you can take to reduce this figure.
A recent BBC Nature article outlines the problem and the remedies. One of the simplest but most effective steps that you can take is to keep your cat in at night. Yes, if your cat is used to being out at night, this change in its lifestyle (and yours) may take a little getting used to, but the evidence shows that this simple step could save millions of garden animals each year. The cat's hunting instinct peaks at night - they're generally not as interested during the day.
If your cat is not neutered, then keeping it in at night also reduces unwanted litters which support the burgeoning feral cat population. And, by the way, if your cat is not neutered, why not? Not only does neutering prevent unwanted litters, but it may reduce the cat's inclination to hunt too. The RSPCA now recommends neutering cats at an early age.
Cat collars with bells can do a lot to warn small mammals of a stalking cat and two bells are better than one (cats often learn how to keep one bell quiet). Bells don't appear to be much use in warning birds though, but help is at hand from new sonic collars which can be quite effective.
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Do you live in Merseyside? Interested in its wildlife?