Elinor Miller – Cape Cod Times – Nov. 26, 1999

When you read the title of this column, you probably thought it was going to be about the hawks that make frequent raids on just about everyone’s feeders, especially during the winter. Well, you are partially right; I will get to that topic, but before I do, there is actually a far more serious predator that is decimating out wild bird population. Cats. Yes, cats. The superb hunting ablilities of these free-ranging felines make them a real threat to our native species.

Believe it or not, it is well documented that cats kill more than a billion birds every year. Before we had agencies that monitored our wildlife, most people probably thought that it was just a natural thing for cats to kill birds and that letting a house cat out for a few hours of fresh air and recreation every day couldn’t possibly have any effect on bird populations. Birds are threatened by extensive loss of habitat, both where they breed and where they winter, as well as the effects of poisons used on lawns, gardens and agricultural lands. Add in a burgeoning cat population and it’s clear that we must take a variety of measures to stop the loss of our birdlife.

Cats are natural hunters, and if your cat is a hunter, then your cat is part of the problem. Fortunately, there is a simple, inexpensive, safe and benign way to stop your cat from killing birds. It’s a device called the CatBib. Attached to your cat’s collar, it’s a triangular piece of foam (broader at the bottom) that hangs loosely over a cat’s chest and interferes with the line of sight, timing and coordination needed to catch a bird. Strange looking it may be, but look at what is accomplishes. When a cat lifts its paws to catch a bird, it simultaneously lifts the CatBib which is then between the cat’s line of sight and the bird. I’d say that was pretty clever, wouldn’t you?

Elinor Millor, Cape Cod Times, Hyannis, MA