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Felines And Feathered Friends: Nature Versus Nurture

Cat looking longingly at humming bird

Several years ago, researchers with the Smithsonian Institute and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service estimated that domestic and wild cats pounce on one to four billion birds a year. The estimated numbers of birds killed by cats exceeded all mortality from window strikes, roadkill, pesticides, pollution, wind, energy and all other unnatural causes combined.

But blaming cats only reflects a responsibility onto an animal that has no concept of its impacts. Here are some tips to keep backyard birds and other wildlife safe from free ranging and domesticated cats.

The only way to keep the birds and other wildlife safe from domestic cats is to keep cats indoors. Remember, cats are just following natural instincts. We created domestic cats and imported them around the world in places where they don't belong.

Birds use dense vegetation to hide from predators. When you're designing your gardener landscape include dense plantings of shrubs or trees where wildlife can hide. Birds need cover in hiding places from cats. At the same time, they also need open space around feeders and bird baths, so that they able to spot cats before the cats get close enough to pounce.

Place bird feeders and bird baths at least 12 feet away from potential hiding places for cats. If feral cats are stalking your bird feeders is hunting grounds the only responsible thing to do is to take your feeders down. Focus on feeding birds naturally through native plants that provide seeds, berries and insects. More information at