Outside entertainment for Kitties but No bird feeders allowed
May 21, 2014 10:20 AM   Subscribe

My little indoor cat used to LOVE watching the birds visit the bird feeder in the garden at our old house. We recently moved house and unfortunately the same bird feeder has become an issue... we have a green belt behind our new place and the bird feeder, well, it's attracting rats!

Little Binky had been having a whale of a time watching the birds, but all of a sudden she was focused on the patio and the greenary underneath the bird feeder. I didn't think anything of it until I sat quietly watching with her and all of a sudden, there they were - 2 giant rats!

Binky has no teeth so she'd be useless if I did decide to let her out and "deal with the rats".. but also, we have since received a notice from our strata stating that bird feeders are no longer allowed due to rat sightings.... I get it, we don't want rats, rats are a nuisance.

But, now I feel bad for Binky who no longer has the birds or the rats to entertain her. I've put a hummingbird feeder outside because I've seen a few of them flying around, but it's certainly not as fun as the daily free-for-all that used to happen! (She's an indoor cat and won't be going outside ever so that's not an option!)

Are there any other avenues I can pursue? She has plenty of balls and toys and that sort of thing for inside the house, I just wondered if there's anything I can do to safely get the birds back outside without also bringing back the rats. Are there any other weird and wonderful things I can put outside that will keep Binky entertained while I'm at work? I have a lovely little garden and I want to plant a nice buddleia or something to get the butterflies coming but a shorter term fix would be better at this point!
posted by JenThePro to Pets & Animals (20 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
How about a bird bath?
posted by Elly Vortex at 10:25 AM on May 21, 2014 [10 favorites]

One of my cats likes to watch tv. Can you get a bird dvd?
posted by St. Peepsburg at 10:27 AM on May 21, 2014 [2 favorites]

Butterfly Bushes?
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 10:28 AM on May 21, 2014 [2 favorites]

Oh! Plants with seeds or berries! I always have birds eating my raspberries.
posted by St. Peepsburg at 10:36 AM on May 21, 2014 [1 favorite]

Were you using a "squirrel-proof" bird feeder? If not it might be worth looking into, I don't know if they still attract rats though.

They also make automatic kitty toys.

One of the best amusements for cats is a kitten buddy.
posted by bleep at 10:37 AM on May 21, 2014 [1 favorite]

We use a "no squirrel blend" of birdseed that includes hot pepper. We would not be able to feed the birds otherwise in this area. Might work for the rats.
posted by gudrun at 10:50 AM on May 21, 2014

Nesting boxes or bird houses. I think Elly Vortex's bird bath suggestion is a great one.
posted by wwax at 10:51 AM on May 21, 2014

I have a copy of Winged Migration. Here is my cat watching it.

Note: I had to put the stool at a good level for him to see the TV. Cats also like TV trays and sitting on a clean microfiber bathmat with memory foam keeps hard surfaces from being too slippery and makes for good soft TV-watching perches.
posted by Marie Mon Dieu at 11:03 AM on May 21, 2014 [2 favorites]

I wonder if a window feeder would work?
Also sweep the mess the birds make away. I feed birds too, and they always pick at the food in a way that a lot of it ends up on the ground. Those leftovers might attract rats.
posted by travelwithcats at 11:04 AM on May 21, 2014 [1 favorite]

Kind of a long-term project and not a short-term fix, but planting the right plants can help attract birds. Flowers that form seedheads (black-eyed susan, echinacea, fertile sunflowers, ornamental millet, etc.) attract seed-eating birds like finches (esp. in fall); shrubs with berries will attract cardinals, jays, and other species.

Dense hedges and well-covered arbors are popular with shrub-nesting species, and if you're brave enough to let ivy grow on your walls or can situate a good tall shrub near a window, you might get visitors (columnar varieties of yew, cedar, juniper, arborvitae, etc. are really great for this because they an outer dense cover but are open on the inside and small birds just love to hang out on the inside). In addition to natural housing and shelter you can set up artificial bird houses, nesting platforms, etc.

An indoor fishtank is also a good form of kitty TV, if you're interested. We've got a tank of guppies that is ridiculously overcrowded due to natural breeding and that doesn't require a ton of maintenance--the cats love to watch it, and it's kind of fun for the humans as well.
posted by drlith at 11:05 AM on May 21, 2014 [3 favorites]

Would the neighborhood "powers that be" allow this kind of feeder?
posted by calgirl at 11:34 AM on May 21, 2014

Suet makes much less of a mess - is that allowed? A wide variety of birds will flock to suet, including chickadees, titmice, nuthatches, and woodpeckers. You might want to look at squirrel-proofing and starling-proofing solutions for suet, though, as starlings and grackles will literally flock to suet and wipe it out.
posted by Seeking Direction at 11:43 AM on May 21, 2014

I second planting bird-attracting plants if you can. In my neighbourhood there seems to be tons of sparrows and blackbirds nesting in privet hedges and tall scrubby bushes like lilac and forsythia. They also love eating berries from things like pyracanthus
posted by mymbleth at 11:57 AM on May 21, 2014

You don't say where you're located, and this may be more trouble than you're willing to undertake, but:

In my area, there's a program that sometimes relocates (sterilized) feral cat colonies to places with people willing to live with and feed them. This would be a great thing to do for these kitties, and would definitely put the rats off. Downside: cats living outside are a real threat to songbirds and other small animals, so you'd have to be careful how you arranged everything.

Feral cat colony sounds like a wild and scary thing, but these are mostly kitties who happened to be born outside, who are too afraid of humans to be adopted as indoor cats, and who know each other. There might be just a few of them, or you might even find one or two outdoor-only kitties who need somewhere new to be. Definitely work with an organization; I wouldn't try relocating cats without some guidance or a _lot_ of research.
posted by amtho at 12:21 PM on May 21, 2014

Also: cats love watching lizards. Some nice sunny rocks near some cool loose soil, placed near enough that small lizards would be visible, might be nice for her.
posted by amtho at 12:23 PM on May 21, 2014

I was going to suggest other ways to attract birds, too, but I see everyone has already covered that stuff.

For the cat, maybe one of those laser toys that has a timer? Our cat loved this.

Seconding adopting some outdoor cats. Most rescues have some "barn cats" available who are as amtho describes. We have some resident cats here outside (here when we moved to this house) and we see hardly any rodents and they do not seem to go after birds (we have multiple birdfeeders here). But check to make sure first that outdoor cats are allowed, of course.

And, incidentally, our cat does not watch the birds that come to the feeders but she does love watching the cats outside. :) She is indoor-only, and will race around from window to window watching them as they stalk by on their rounds.
posted by AllieTessKipp at 1:04 PM on May 21, 2014

Not outdoor, but you may wish to check out these items:



They're not on the market yet, however.
posted by longdaysjourney at 3:39 PM on May 21, 2014

Ditto plants! A friend of mine plants bee balm to attract the hummingbirds.
posted by thomas j wise at 6:12 PM on May 21, 2014 [1 favorite]

I feed birds too, and they always pick at the food in a way that a lot of it ends up on the ground. Those leftovers might attract rats.

It's worth looking at what you're feeding, too. A lot of the cheap grocery/hardware store seed blends include stuff that birds won't (or would rather not) eat, e.g. cracked corn or milo. That stuff gets kicked out as they search for sunflower seeds or something more appetizing and then squirrels, chipmunks, and the like hang out under, and eventually on, the feeder.
posted by the christopher hundreds at 7:52 AM on May 22, 2014 [1 favorite]

Good point, the christopher hundreds. Another thing is the amount of food compared to the number of birds coming in - a surplus of food might attract other hungry critters at night.

I feed different types of seeds and for some the birds have to remove the husks. Plus the droppings, so they make a mess anyway. Luckily there are no rats in my neighborhood. Last night there was a hedgehog though. I think he ate some bird food (oats in the mix) because he left a lot of droppings on his way out. Might put a hedgehog feeding station outside tonight with some cat food.
posted by travelwithcats at 9:21 AM on May 22, 2014

« Older Advice on ordering single-speed bike online   |   I want to make the world a better place for... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.