Gardenroom doorway and herbacous borders, Norfolk

Bird-friendly gardens

A range of relatively simple measures can be implemented to help reduce the risk of cats catching garden birds, especially where food is being put out for birds.

What you can do

Here are a few recommendations to lower the chances of cats catching your garden birds:

  • Where cats are a problem, avoid putting food on the ground, but use a bird table where cats cannot reach it.
  • Place feeders high off the ground but away from surfaces from which a cat could jump.
  • Place spiny plants (such as holly) or an uncomfortable surface around the base of the feeding station to prevent cats sitting underneath it.
  • Place an upturned tin or cone underneath the table to prevent cats from climbing the post (squirrel baffles are already commercially available).
  • Make the table-stand slippery using a metal post, or plastic bottles around non-metal posts.
  • Plant wildlife-friendly vegetation, such as prickly bushes and thick climbers in the garden to provide secure cover for birds. These should be close enough to where birds feed to provide cover, but not so close that cats can use it to stalk birds. This kind of planting may also provide food and nesting sites.
  • Position nestboxes where cats cannot reach them or sit close to them (preventing the parent birds from getting to the box).
  • The RSPB recommends the use of 'Catwatch' cat deterrent. Find out more information from the RSPB shop.

Things to keep in mind

  • Domestic cats are protected by law and it is an offence to trap, injure or kill them.
  • The welfare of cats must not be ignored. Remember, just because they might be unwelcome in your garden, a cat could be someone's much-loved pet - perhaps of a child or elderly person living alone.
  • Some people have called for the introduction of legislation to curb the freedom with which cats are allowed to roam. While we understand why people feel this way, we are not able to urge the government to introduce such legislation, as we have no scientific evidence of the impact of cat predation on bird populations which is strong enough to support such a call.
Close-up of a cat snoozing by window.