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American Bird Conservancy says that about 80 million pet cats, plus 60 to 100 million homeless or feral ones, kill more than 500 million birds every year in the U.S. Only one-third of cat owners always keep their cats indoors. Linda Bainbridge, of Whidbey Island, Washington has found a way to accommodate her love for birds and cats. Linda says, “Cats are not native; cats are fed by us… They have such an edge on these other creatures that have to deal with the elements.” So Linda built an outdoor enclosure for her cat – a catio!
If you have a catio, or you know someone who does, please share your photos on BirdNote’s facebook page.
Cats and Birds - Interview with Linda Bainbridge
By Chris Peterson
This is BirdNote!
[Cat meow and purring]
Would a well-fed cat really do all that much damage to birds? American Bird Conservancy says, “Yes!” About 80 million pet cats, plus 60 to 100 million homeless or feral ones, kill more than 500 million birds every year in the U.S. (1) Only one-third of cat owners always keep their cats indoors.
Linda Bainbridge, of Whidbey Island, Washington is one who’s found a way to accommodate her love for birds and cats. She recalls that one day a large orange cat wandered into her bird-friendly yard and decided to adopt her:
“I had no idea how much they hunted! So I got a harness and a leash and he took to it readily. And then …I said, “Oh, well, let’s build him an outdoor shelter!” so we had an old wood shed so we put screening around it…
And I’ve heard people say, ‘That’s the way things work. Things kill each other.’ But cats are not native, cats are fed by us… they have such an edge on these other creatures that have to deal with the elements. ….And I’ve talked to so many people who’ve said, ‘Oh well you know, my cats, they don’t really catch birds…and I’m thinking, ‘How is that I got the only cat that I know of that is hunting non-stop and catching birds quite successfully, without a whole lot of trouble?’”
That’s right, Linda, you didn’t get the only bird-hunting cat. There are some clever solutions to this problem. People call them “catios” – little patios for cats. If you have one we’d love share your picture at our website, birdnote.org
Ambient recorded on site by C. Peterson.
Producer: John Kessler
Executive Producer: Chris Peterson
© 2012 Tune In to Nature.org July 2012 Narrator: Mary McCann
ID# cats-02-2012-07-27 cats-02
*Really 500 million? “If there are a minimum of 140 million cats outdoors, that’s only 3.6 birds per cat per year on average! Given that some of these cats are outdoors all the time, that’s likely a gross underestimate.” Gavin Shire, ABC.
(1) ABC’s fact sheet Domestic Cat Predation on Birds and Other Wildlife references