Before I even start this story, I want to make it very clear that I love all creatures, well except maybe cockroaches!
I grew up having both cats and dogs as pets, and to be honest cats were my first love. I could not help but love their independence, their honesty when it came to letting you know if they liked you or not, and their intelligence.
When I started caring for birds, I made every effort to encourage our two cats to remain inside for the most part of the day and at night. After many months of persevering and loads of love and treats I was successful! They would go out at around 7am in the morning for a quick zizz (never allowed out before 7 as the birds needed time to feed first!), and then back inside for a scrumptious breakfast. They would then find a sunny spot in the house and stay there until nature called again. This was the process during the day, and at dusk the cat door was locked! They were happy to snuggle in, enjoy our company and devour a gourmet dinner.
After our cats passed on, I promised myself I would not have another, not because I fell out of love with cats but because I feel that it is unfair to expect birds to survive in an environment that is basically over-run with cats. As a point of interest, New Zealand has one of the highest rates of cat ownership in the world. Since moving back into suburbia, I have noticed that there is at least one cat in every 2nd house, and on my daily walks I find bird bodies and/or feathers. Seeing all this has strengthened my resolve not to have another cat, I now have a beautiful rescue dog called Nala. I got her when she was 3 months old and I have taught her to love and be gentle with everything. When we go on our daily walks, she greets everybody with a wag, and goes out of her way to say ‘Hello’ to every dog we pass. She loves the ducks, and if they allow, will swim with them. Sounds wonderful doesn’t it, but, and this is a BIG BUT… she has now made friends with the neighbours’ cat! Well Nala thinks she has made another friend, little does she realise the cat has taken over her garden, and it gets really hissy about protecting its patch. Check this out….
Sadly, the birds no longer come into the garden and it is hard to tell if they have just moved off, or they have been killed. The cat comes and goes, it comes when it’s quiet and goes when I spray it with the hose! Such is life.
These are few tips that I have picked up recently about how to deter cats from coming into your garden:
· Spreading coffee grounds and/or citrus peels on the flower beds and where they like to rest-up
· Place rocks where they like to curl up and sleep or hide out
· Sprinkle eggs shells and/or pine cones on the rocks, makes it doubly uncomfortable
· Invest in a large water pistol!
· Purchase a commercial repellent that has good reviews
At the end of the day it is perseverance and making the cats’ life so uncomfortable it goes elsewhere. Hopefully back home!
(All photos and videos are the copyright of Wild Bird Care-NZ)
Learn Bird Care was co-founded by Dr Janelle Ward and Mandy Robertson. Learn Bird Care offer specialist online courses on wild bird rescue,1st aid and care.
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