Easy, tiger

Easy, tiger

Five ways to keep kitty away from backyard nests

Keeping feline predators out of your garden shouldn’t be like ‘herding cats’. Here are five tips that might help keep the neighbourhood moggies away from your feeder and the precious local birdlife.

With the warmer weather arriving so too will the chirps and cheeps of new life begin to swell in many a backyard. And so too will many a Kiwi cat venture out to see what all the noise is about.

Even more than their parents, baby birds and fledglings are unprepared for the sharp teeth and sharper claws of these puss predators. Which is why Spring is always a great time of year to consider how you can help local birdlife survive. 

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  1. Fence them out.

Yes, cat-proof fencing is a thing. While there are some extreme examples on the local market (i.e. cat spikes for the top of fences), other innovative designs prevent cats from crossing the borders between properties. If you’re tired of constant visits from the next-door cat it may be that you can come to an arrangement with your neighbour.

If you’re an owner you can also fence them in. While it may seem this approach stifles their natural instincts a cat run or ‘catio-patio’ can still give them space to comfortably roam. One clever Auckland woman managed to cat-proof her property for approximately $250.00, a result that included fence barriers and a network of walkways for her cats to see across to the neighbours. 

  1. Remember: Your cat, your responsibility.

The commotion around cat control has divided the nation in the past. While the pitchforks have been put away for now it’s still a passionate subject and, as there are plenty of bird lovers, cat lovers (and bird and cat lovers), everyone has an opinion. The best way cat owners can help is first in recognising that, just because they don't see it, the reality is that their pet is probably catching a large number of different birds and lizards.

While many careful owners put bells on their cats it appears as if this isn’t a great solution (as birds don’t associate bells with danger). Instead try a brightly coloured collar. It will help birds see any approaching danger and it won’t be as annoying for the cat! 

  1. Go high tech.

Motion activated security systems are becoming increasingly popular, with many a backyard bathed in light should an uninvited guest arrive. These lights will often startle a cat enough to make it flee the immediate area.

So too are motion activated sprinklers a suitable deterrent if the neighbour’s cat continues to prowl. This surprise will definitely be no fun for most cats, providing a strong disincentive without causing harm to the cat. 

  1. Grow smarter.

Clever landscaping can make all the difference to the safety of your backyard birds. Some trees and bushes are great for birdlife because, quite simply, they’re not so great for cats.

Sharp, thorny or dense bushes are helpful as they will discourage local predators from travelling through certain areas of the garden. Often such plants come with the added bonus of extra berries for a hungry native bird. 

  1. Elevate to frustrate.

Remember that, just like ‘somewhere over the rainbow’, you need to keep your bird feeder way up high. Keep them away from fences or easily climbable tree branches and, ideally, at least three metres from any space where a cat might hide.

Birds will need a good view of what’s around them too. One excellent option for everyone to get a great (and safe) view is with a Peka Peka feeder. All you need to do is buy a standard waratah post, bang it in to the ground and set up your feeder on top.

Always clean up any spilled bird feed too. Any of this seed may encourage your feathered friends to ground feed (where they are obviously much more at risk from predators).

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