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Keep Your Cats Indoors

Better for birds -- and for cats!

When they first leave the nest, young birds are especially vulnerable to cats. For some birds, it takes a few days before they can fly high enough to be out of harm's way. You can help by keeping your cat indoors, especially during the breeding season, March through July. If you hear a bird's distress call, go outside and have a look. Your presence may be a lifesaver to a vulnerable bird.

Do you have a catio? Send a photo to, and we'll share it with fellow listeners!

Full Transcript



Keep Your Cat Indoors

Written by Chris Peterson

This is BirdNote!
[Distress call of the American Robin]
Adult robins sound this alarm when their young are threatened – like by a cat.
[Repeat distress call]
When young birds first leave the nest, they’re especially vulnerable. For some, it takes a few days before they can fly high enough to be out of harm’s way.
Cats are a big problem for birds. There are some 80 million pet cats nationwide and likely an equal number of feral cats. (1)
[Sounds of a cat]
A cat’s instinct is to hunt and kill. Even a well-fed cat. A study by the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute estimates more than 1.5 billion birds per year are killed. (2)
Not ready to keep your cat indoors year round? Well, we know the “fur can fly” on this issue, so how about May through July? That would be a big help to birds. And when you hear the distress call of a bird, go outside and have a look. Your presence may be a lifesaver.
[Distress call of the American Robin]
Hey, maybe you’re one step ahead – you’ve built a “catio” – an enclosed patio for a cat. Send us a picture and we’ll put it on line. A little imagination can go a long way to solving this huge problem. Audubon, American Bird Conservancy and others too, have great resources for cat owners ready to protect birds. Find links at                

Bird sounds provided by The Macaulay Library of Natural Sounds at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, New York. Alarm calls of American Robin recorded by R.S. Little.
“Sparky” the cat by Kessler Productions.  Ambient and Nigel purring recorded by C. Peterson.
BirdNote’s theme music was composed and played by Nancy Rumbel and John Kessler.
Producer: John Kessler
Executive Producer: Chris Peterson
© 2014 Tune In to     July 2014      Narrator: Michael Stein
ID# 060508cats       cats-01d


(2) In January 2013 the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute released a study showing that the real figure is somewhere between 1.4 billion and 3.7 billion birds a year and for wild mammals between 6.9 billion and 20.7 billion.

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