Birdsbesafe® Perspective: Our Product and Cat Predation on Birds

At the Birdsbesafe® company, we have been reading customer emails about cats that hunt birds for more than seven years. We have learned a lot from the first-hand reports of Birdsbesafe® customers. Although our sources are anecdotal, we have put together a short summary of important observations.

Efficacy of Birdsbesafe® collar covers. In discussing the Birdsbesafe® collar cover, the paramount question is "does it work as well as we claim it does?" In North America, Birdsbesafe® collar covers can reduce birds caught by about 87 percent, according to the U.S. science study. Happily, our customers' experiences match this expectation. We first began reporting the scientific estimate of 87% in January 2015, and there is every indication from customers that they observe this level of performance for their own cats' hunting. Our product doesn't protect every bird from every cat every time, but it does make a profound, immediate and lasting reduction in the numbers of birds caught.

Customer testimonials are consistent in validating the 87% reduction in birds caught when their cats wear Birdsbesafe® collar covers. Cat owners usually remark something like “almost no birds have been caught” since the cat began its use. Or they remark: "our cat stopped catching birds." Social media and product reviews also show strong consensus that Birdsbesafe® collar covers are very highly effective.

Most often, our customers’ cat was an expert, avid bird-hunting cat that was capturing (and returning home with) an above average number of birds per year, before the cat owner learned about Birdsbesafe® covers. Typical capture rates reported to us are several birds per week or more, especially during spring and summer seasons. Some cats don't appear interested in catching birds; others make it their top hunting priority when outdoors. When a cat specializes in hunting birds, owners are easily aware of the problem--and our product offers a good solution.

The scientific literature often includes the remark that cat owners are not aware of the real toll of their cats on wild prey. From customer anecdotes, we suspect that birds are more consistently brought home to the pet owners’ attention, more so than are mammalian victims. Perhaps the feathered bird is less valued for a meal by the cat, and more valued as a "prize" to present to the pet owner. Future field research could try to differentiate between the treatment of mammalian and bird prey.

Cat owners sometime tell us that they find no more birds, at all, being brought home when the cat wears the Birdsbesafe® cover. Some wonder if the cat is hunting for birds at all. Maybe there just aren't birds around at the time. Then, their cat loses the Birdsbesafe® cover while outdoors, and it immediately brings home a dead bird. A ha! So, it was working! This type of note usually comes with an urgent plea to ship the next order of a Birdsbesafe® cover quickly!

Birdsbesafe® collar covers seem to work best for avid bird-hunting cats. The bright colored neckwear overcomes the high levels of skill of these cats. When an avidly bird-hunting cat wears a Birdsbesafe® collar cover , the expert hunter has its rate of capturing birds plummet. These are cats that were spending a lot of time stalking bird prey. The more time the cat spends hunting, the greater the chance that birds can notice that now brightly bedecked cat.

Birds can and do make “alarm calls” suggesting danger to other birds in the same vicinity. We have heard reports of cats being “announced” by the alarm calls of birds when wearing Birdsbesafe® covers. American Robins and Magpies are notable species that signal alarm. Other species birds in the vicinity likely heed the call and avoid danger. The resident bird community, thus, can learn to gain overall protection.

The protective effect of wearing Birdsbesafe® collar covers is not easily overcome by cats over time.

Instead, sometimes the cat gives up on hunting birds. We know of stories of cats that seem to retire from bird-hunting after many months or longer, of wearing Birdsbesafe® covers. The first cat that we knew of was our own cat, which began to sleep indoors through the dawn hours after a full year of wearing Birdsbesafe covers. There were three phases to this cats’ hunting of birds. 1) During avid bird-hunting, before Birdsbesafe was invented, the cat brought prey indoors (through a cat door) at dawn. 2) Wearing the Birdsbesafe® device, the cat brought no more birds indoors, although the cat still hunted. 3) After a year or more, the cat began to sleep indoors through the dawn hours and neglected its former hunting routines.

Similar stories of “retirement” from bird-hunting come to us from customers. Wild cat species are known for their efficiency and energy conservation v.v. hunting. It makes sense that the pet cat would continue to hunt for a time, but then, recognizing its failure to catch birds, the cat might eventually cease wasting energy on that pursuit. We have had a number of testimonials about this, including from a wildlife rehabilitation staff member.

By reducing impact for the worst bird-hunting cats, Birdsbesafe® covers can protect proportionally more birds than if the product was only used on cats that caught an occasional bird. Thwarting the bird-hunting efforts of highly skilled cats has the greatest impact.

Many people have remarked to us that their avidly bird-hunting cat was once a rescued cat or a former stray. Some formerly stray cats have developed advanced bird-hunting skills while living without a home providing them with pet food. This cat may rebel against being kept indoors full-time. These cats are great candidates for using our product. Many birds can be protected if cat owners learn about Birdsbesafe® collar covers when they are adopting rescued cats or when taking an injured bird to a wildlife rehabilitation center.

Our customers have also made it very clear to us that the Birdsbesafe® collar cover works very well all across North America, from Hawaii, to Alaska, to the Northeastern maritime provinces of Canada, to Florida and in between. Desert, ranchland, farmlands, suburban lawns, or wooded neighborhoods; urban or rural; where there are cats in the temperate regions of North America, our product does consistently well at curbing predation on birds. Similar success is found, to date, although with fewer sales, in western and northern Europe, Iceland, Ireland, and the UK. (More information about New Zealand and Australian will be posted soon.)

Lastly, it is important to note that Birdsbesafe® collar covers are unique in how well they accomplish their effectiveness at protecting birds. The patented Birdsbesafe® collar covers are designed with an extensive “fabric formula,” which is based on both theory and experience. Over seven years of field testing by geographically-diverse customers has led to great confidence in our ability to know which fabric designs to use. Wrong colors or subtle pattern changes can greatly diminish the effectiveness of the product.

Our Birdsbesafe® company goal is, and always has been, to protect birds from cats. We have carefully developed our knowledge base, our understanding of cats and birds, and our ability to help customers solve the problem of their cats hunting birds. In order to succeed in bird conservation, we have to succeed by having a good product that works well for cat owners. So far, so good!

Looking ahead, we hope to build strong relationships with important conservation organizations that can champion our product to bird-lovers everywhere. We would invite any conservation organizations, including any members of International Bird Life to reach out to us. Ideally, we would like our many European customers to find Birdsbesafe® products available online at their favorite nature shop.

Birdsbesafe: We help birds be safe from cats!

 Copyright 2016 Nancy S. Brennan All rights reserved.