Bird Tables and Feeders – How to Keep the Cats Away
There are millions of cats in the UK and every one of them is a natural predator. Estimates vary as to how many birds are killed every year by cats but it is safe to presume that it is at least 50 million. Whilst cat predation does not seem to have adversely affected bird populations, most bird lovers do not want to see cats in their gardens. If you wish to keep cats away from your bird table and bird feeders then here are some handy tips.
- Start by reinforcing the perimeters of your garden. You can do this by topping your fences with plastic roll-up fencing as cats will find it difficult to climb over this. You could also consider constructing a second fence outside the original fence or wall. Use chicken wire or similar and place it at an angle so that it leans in the direction of approaching cats. The hunting felines will be unable to climb this. Taut wire or string mounted six inches above the fence will also help to keep the cats out.
- Cats are often wary of the light reflected by shiny surfaces. Old CDs threaded on string can be strung across branches if you don’t mind the look of them. You can also place half-full plastic bottles in your borders as these will also reflect the light.
- You should take measures to foil the cats’ attempts at scaling trees and bird tables. It is possible to place spiked collars on tree trunks. The wooden uprights of bird tables and feeders can be encased in plastic piping. The plastic can also be greased to make life even harder for the cats. You can foil the cats by fixing a cone or a disc to the pole. These are usually used to deter squirrels but should also stop the cats. You can fashion a DIY deterrent to use instead of a cone. Take an old biscuit tin or similar. Cut a hole to pass the pole through and position the tin with the open end towards the ground.
- Thorney or spikey plants are useful natural deterrents. Grow these in your borders or place clipping in your borders and beneath your bird table and feeder.
- There is a plant called Coleus canina which has an odour which cats find unpleasant. You may see this marketed as Scaredy-cat or Pee-off. Planting a few of these might keep the cats away.
- There are other odours which cats dislike, notably citrus. Citronella might do the trick or you could try orange or lemon peel.
- Cats don’t generally like water so a water pistol might come in handy. If cats learn that they will get squirted with water when they enter your garden then they may think twice about trying. A washing up liquid bottle full of water is a good alternative to a water pistol. You could also automate your water deterrent by using a scarecrow device. This attaches to a hosepipe and features a motion sensor. When the sensor is tripped the device will deliver a water jet.
If you do try to deter cats from your garden then take care not to use anything which could injure the cats. They are not evil and are merely exhibiting a natural behaviour. If all else fails then a dog might prove to be a useful investment!