At the Birdsbesafe® company, we have been immersed in all things cats and birds since 2009 when we first marketed our product. We relied on feedback, then, and we rely on it now. We have learned a lot from the first-hand reports from our Birdsbesafe® customers around the world.
In combination with the seven scientific studies of our product, as of 2023, we have a fairly unique and complete perspective on our product's success in the real world. Here are a few thoughts.
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 first U.S. science study in 2015. Happily, our customers' feedback seems to closely match this expectation. Our product doesn't protect every bird from every cat every time, but it does make a profound and lasting reduction in the numbers of birds caught.
Cat owners usually remark something like “almost no birds have been caught” since the cat began its use. 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 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.
The scientific literature often includes the remark that cat owners are not aware of the real toll of their cats on wild prey because some prey is eaten and not returned home. True enough. But 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 were skeptical at first use of our product. When their cat stops bringing home dead birds, they wonder if it is for some other reason than the Birdsbesafe use. Then, is their cat loses the Birdsbesafe® cover while outdoors, the cat may immediately brings home a dead bird. Aha! So, it was working! This type of emailed feedback usually comes with an urgent plea to ship the next order of a Birdsbesafe® cover quickly--so the birds can continue to be protected.
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 the cats that were spending a lot of time stalking bird prey. The more time the cat spends hunting, the more time that birds have to notice that brightly bedecked cat. And birds may warn other birds, too. How?
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. This is good news for the birds! There's almost no "work-around" for the cat, other than hiding in the shrubbery out of sight completely.
Retirement From Hunting Birds: For Some Cats
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. Our own cat did this. He began to sleep indoors through the dawn hours after a full year of wearing Birdsbesafe covers. 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.
The Importance of Thwarting the Efforts of the Focused Bird-hunting Cat
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.
Geographic Differences: North America, UK and Europe Best Results So Far
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. (New Zealand and Australia birds seem somewhat less protected, according to science study results and customer feedback.)
Our Birdsbesafe® company mission is, and always has been, to protect birds from cats. We have carefully developed our knowledge base, our understanding of cats versus birds, and our ability to help customers solve the problem of their cats hunting birds. We couldn't do it with your help. Thank you for caring about cats and birds!
Copyright 2016 (updated Jan. 2023) Nancy S. Brennan All rights reserved.