A study shows that a food rich in protein, daily games and the use of educational bowls would allow cats to hunt small prey in gardens less.
In the eyes of many bird advocates, cats are primarily responsible for the disappearance of birds from gardens. The solutions to limit the hunting instinct of cats until now have been the use of necklaces provided with bells or the arrangement of spiked collars on the shafts. However, these devices have their limit. Cats can strangle themselves with a collar if they hang on to an obstacle, and the cat’s keen hearing is likely disturbed by the constant ringing of a bell.
A study therefore wanted to test so-called “non-invasive” solutions to allow cats and birds to coexist naturally.
Satisfy the cat’s hunting instinct
Thestudy was carried out by a group of researchers from the UK University of Exeter. They wanted to act at the root of the “problem”: cats’ hunting instinct. Rather than preventing cats from hunting, the researchers proposed to satisfy this instinct with various methods.
They followed 355 cats who used to hunt and bring prey to their homes and offered their owners different solutions:
- Play 5-10 minutes a day with a feathered fishing rod in order to allow the cat to imitate the hunting behavior. The animal also had a foam mouse to be able to bite and kick with its paws, as in the last stages of predation.
- Feed grain free and high in protein
- Use educational bowls
- Put on a bell necklace or a so-called Birdsafe necklace to compare to other methods
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Hunting reduced by 30%
The results are very surprising, because the three solutions each reduced the number of prey killed by cats by a third.
Daily play reduced hunting by 25%, food rich in protein by 36%, the use of educational bowls by 33% and wearing of the collar by 42% (except on small mammals).
Conclusion. Reducing the predatory instinct of cats is possible but requires the involvement of the owner with the establishment of new habits such as a more protein diet, daily games and food to be hunted in educational bowls.
The hunting instinct of cats would thus be satisfied (in part) and would save about a third of the birds.
One way to allow felines to no longer be seen as responsible for the disappearance of certain species.
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