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Cats and Wildlife - top tips to reduce outdoor hunting

Many cat owners know how upset you can feel when your beloved pet brings in a bird it has just caught in the garden.

Cats are natural hunters, and if your cat is allowed outside, there is no way to completely stop them from hunting. However, you can follow some of our tips below to help satisfy your cat’s natural behavioural needs at home, which might make them less likely to hunt in the garden.

Meal times

Naturally, cats hunt for their food, so providing food in a bowl is completely different to the cat’s usual behaviour patterns. You can encourage your cat to hunt at home, by feeding them without using a typical food bowl. There are more and more enrichment feeders becoming available for cats and some are designed to allow the cat to “hunt” for their food. These type of interactive feeders are a fantastic way to keep your pet active and healthy, and can be placed around the house whilst you’re at work, to help provide your cat with mental stimulation during the quieter parts of the day. You can visit any of our rehoming centres for ideas, and the cats will be very happy to say hello!

Play timeCat play

Play with your cat with suitable toys, which encourage them to stalk, chase and hunt at home. Playing will provide an opportunity for your cat to express their natural predatory instincts. Toys don’t need to be expensive, there is a lot of choice out there. There are fishing rod toys, balls for patting around, and toy mice. Bits around the house can also be used as toys, including cotton reels, feathers, paper shopping bags and cardboard boxes. Make sure homemade items are safe to use, and supervise your pet whilst using them. Remove toys whilst you’re not playing with your cat, when you bring them back out, they will be novel and more exciting. Rather than one long play session, short and frequent play sessions are more beneficial to your pet, as this mimics their normal activity pattern. Allow your cat to grab and catch the toy occasionally, although they don’t need to catch the toy every time (every hunt is not always successful). End the game by letting your cat catch the toy. If you start a play session, and your cat is not interested, let them have a break and try again later. Look at our Amazon Wish Lists for cat toy inspiration, and our feline residents will be extremely grateful if you decide to send them a little treat at the same time.

Clicker training

This is a good, fun way to keep your cat’s mind active, and a great way to build a stronger relationship with your pet.

Climbing spaces

Cat’s love to climb, so encourage them to climb in the home by providing them with a tiered scratching post. One with hiding spaces and a high shelf near a window will be great to allow your cat to watch the world go by.

Bird feeders

If you have a bird feeder in your garden, the RSPB advise to place it around 2m away from densNAWT cate vegetation, which will help prevent surprise attacks from cats, whilst also providing safe cover for the birds when needed (RSPB Website, 2019).

Don’t allow cats outside when birds are most active

Keep pet cats indoors in the early hours of the morning, until about an hour after sunrise, and an hour after sunset. Baby birds are particularly vulnerable between the months of March and July. After a period of bad weather (such as heavy rain) restrict outdoor access to your cat, whilst birds come out to feed.

Cats are natural hunters, and you may find that none of the above tips and ideas deter your cat from hunting outside, but we’re sure your feline will enjoy additional training or play time with you!

For inspiration on cat enrichment, please visit our Amazon Wish Lists.

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