By Stephen Anderson, nature columnist. Register-Guard – March 11, 2004
Local bird and cat lover aims to stop furry friends from preying on feathered ones. Have you ever bought a product you wanted everybody to know about? Something that can improve the world? A regular reader of this column did, and she put me in touch with a woman and her invention for saving birds.
She and her husband love birds, and they feed hundreds in their garden. She also loves her cats, and was dismayed to discover many birds falling prey to them. Keeping the cats indoors wasn’t an option, because when they tried that, the cats began to mark their territories in the house, instead of in the litter box. She researched the problem and discovered that 4.4 million birds are killed by cats every year. Even that dismaying estimate likely is low, as there are approximately 60 million cats in this country, and many of them are allowed to hunt outside every day. Some cat owners think birds being stalked by cats isn’t a problem. Predators prey and their target species adapt. That’s true up to a point, but the problem with domestic cats is that they were introduced by early settlers to this continent, and the native birds evolved with defensive strategies that didn’t include them.
What about bobcats, you say? There were here during that evolution. Studies show that bobcats are poor at preying on birds, and in fact, their diet is two-thirds rabbits and hares, with most of the remainder being mice, ground squirrels, gophers and muskrats. Also, just think about how many bobcats you’ve seen in your life. Compare that with the number of domestic cats you see in your neighborhood. Between that number of cats, and the reduction in habitat for many birds, we have losses that are unacceptable. She solved her problem with a device she patented as the CatBib. The CatBib attaches to a cat’s collar and looks like a bib. It hinders the lunge that cats make at the end of their stalk, which seems to slow cats just enough for the birds to evade capture. The CatBib is a simple mechanical solution that is easy to use; it doesn’t interfere with any of the outdoor activities of a cat’ and best of all, it prevents cats from killing birds. Realizing the potential of her invention, she began local production of the CatBib, and it is available online. She has drawn customers as far away as Canada, Europe and Australia, as birders everywhere hear about this device. The CatBib is durable, washable, and comes in a variety of colors, including “purrple.” It would make an excellent gift for the cat owner you know. We would love to see one on every cat in the neighborhood. You can bet the birds would love to see that too.