Sunday Mail newspaper, Adelaide, South Australia, September 1999 by David Valente
An obscure American invention may prove the answer to the problem of cats killing native wildlife. Studies have shown more than four million native animals across Australia are killed each year by domestic and feral cats. But Belair cat Benny has not attacked a single bird since his owner, Shane, fitted him with a CatBib more than three weeks ago. Shane, a bird lover, had often been upset by the dead and dying birds Benny left around the house, but the final straw came in July when Benny proudly carried a still-breathing rosella into the kitchen. That led Shane on a frustrating search for a solution to Benny’s killing. But until he found the CatBib on the Internet, the best advice he could find was to “keep the cat inside all day and all night”.
Benny is the first cat in Australia to try the device – a simple, light foam-rubber and neoprene bib that attaches to a cat’s collar and stops attacks by interfering with paw-eye coordination. Shane faced a family fight to fit Benny with the CatBib. His fiance, Sue, and her children, Dean and Ashley, and his son, Victor all thought it would be cruelly uncomfortable. “But it’s not uncomfortable for him at all. The cat does not even know it’s got it on. It lounges around and sleeps and climbs trees and does everything a cat does normally,” Shane said. “He purrs when he’s got it on. The neighbors are quite impressed and are thinking of getting one for their cat.”
He said now they had the best of both worlds with a happy cat and safety for the local birdlife. Now that he knows birds will be safe, Shane, a former native bird breeder, wants to put nest boxes into the trees around his house. Ms. Sabine Kloss, of the RSPCA, said the society would “watch with interest” the effectiveness of the new product and be thrilled if it protected native wildlife without harming cats.