A range of relatively simple measures can be recommended which could help to reduce the risk of cats catching garden birds, especially where food is being put out for birds.
- Put a bell on your cat's collar. A recent study suggests that this may reduce predation of birds, and may reduce predation of mice and voles, too. The collar must be correctly fitted and should have a quick release mechanism to allow the cat to free itself, should it become snagged. There are commercially-available sonic collars that are designed to alert the potential prey to the cats presence. We do not yet know, however, how effective these collars are or how they affect the cat.
- Cats should always be well-fed and cared-for, but this may also encourage them to stay near home and be less likely to wander where they are not welcome (although it will not prevent them catching birds).
- Keep your cat indoors when birds are most vulnerable: at least an hour before sunset and an hour after sunrise, especially during March-July and December-January, and also after bad weather, such as rain or a cold spell, to allow birds to come out and feed.
- Take unwanted cats to a shelter for rehoming to prevent the feral cat population from increasing.
- Consider having cats neutered to prevent them wandering and producing unwanted kittens.