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Birds in your garden

How to Create a Cat-Proof Garden for Birds and Fish

13.8.2020

A FOUR PAWS' Guide with tips for garden owners

Cats love to roam in a garden. One cannot blame them that birds and fish will catch their interest. Admittedly, cats’ natural behaviour makes them better suited to mousing, so they will very seldom catch a healthy bird.

Here are a few tips from FOUR PAWS on how to protect
birds from cats:

If you have birdbaths in your garden, put them in a freestanding location with a good overview. This will allow birds to spot approaching cats in good time and fly away. 

Do not remove the foliage from thick bushes: the rustling will serve as an early warning for the birds. 

Smooth metal sleeves wrapped around trees will prevent cats from climbing up them. They will then be unable to reach nesting boxes or nests. 

Remove low branches that cats will be able to access by jumping from a wall, the garden table or the garden shed. 

Using a wire loop, nesting boxes should be suspended to hang freely from branches. Should a cat be bold enough to jump on to them anyway, a wide projecting roof will prevent 'fishing trips' from above. Alternatively, you can attach such boxes near the very top of the house. 

Nests in bushes or on the ground can be protected with wire mesh. The meshes must be large enough to allow birds to slip through. You should therefore ensure that there is enough distance between the wire and the nest to prevent your cat engaging in ‘fishing’. The various commercially available obstacles designed to stop cats climbing tree trunks are not suitable because of their reliance on sharp spikes or similar – the danger of injury is simply too great. An alternative solution is to fix a fairly wide plastic screen around the trunk.

You should carefully monitor the progress of the young birds in the nest. Once they start attempting to fly, your cat should be confined indoors for a day or two or only allowed in the garden under strict supervision. If the cat is approaching the nest or the young birds, spray it with the garden hose (keep the jet weak, to avoid injuring the cat). This will keep it away from the birds, at least for a while. 

Fish in the garden pond

To a cat, any fish sunning themselves in the shallow areas at the edge of a garden pond are nothing less than an invitation to go fishing. A helpful defence against this is a barrier of stones piled up high enough to prevent the cat’s paws reaching to the water’s edge. 

You can download the guide as a PDF here: