Myth: Cats Need Freedom to Be Happy
Fact: What cats need, besides food, shelter & veterinary care, is stimulation. Play is a natural substitute for hunting, and toys, window perches, cat TV and exercise all help provide cats with ample stimulation. Fresh air solutions include cat enclosures, ‘catios’, or walking them with a harness.
Myth: It’s Natural for Cats to Hunt to Feed Themselves
Fact: Hunting is a natural instinct, but pets don’t need to hunt to feed themselves. In fact, they hunt for stimulation, not sustenance. Letting cats roam freely puts them in danger from auto collisions, diseases, picking up parasites, toxins, or being attacked by other cats. If the number of cats allowed to roam freely continues to rise it will put bird populations at even greater risk.
Myth: Bells Prevent Cats from Hunting
Fact: Bells and bibs have proven effective in reducing the number of birds hunted by cats, but they don’t eliminate hunting entirely. A UK study compared the hunting of cats with no bells, cats with bells, and cats with an electronic sonic device. It found that cats equipped with a bell(s) captured 41% fewer birds, and cats equipped with a bib or sonic device caught 51% fewer birds.
Myth: Cats are a Minor Threat to Birds in Canada
Fact: Climate change and habitat destruction have a significant negative effect on bird populations, but the impact of other human-related activities cannot be overlooked. Environment Canada’s list of Bird Species at Risk increased from 47 to 86 between 2001 and 2014. Some species have declined by a staggering 90%. It is estimated that 270 million human-related bird deaths happen per year in Canada. Cats are estimated to account for 75% of those, or 200 million incidents. In comparison, window collisions cause an estimated 25 million bird fatalities per year.
Nationally, 115 of 468 bird species have been identified as vulnerable to cats because of their nesting or feeding behaviour. Forty of these species are common in urban or suburban landscapes. Of note are reports issued by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC) that have referenced cats as a risk factor in the recovery plans for at least 10 different bird species.