Cat collars to stop cat from hunting?
October 28, 2021 11:29 PM   Subscribe

I would like to let my cat out into our yard, which is fenced in but does get some visiting birds. What are my options for collars which will hopefully help to make sure she doesn't attack the birds, but are also not dangerous or inhumane to my cat?

I've seen collars before which are basically like a silicone bib and apparently deter them from hunting but I have no idea whether they work.

posted by kinddieserzeit to Pets & Animals (15 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
The simplest, and old-fashioned solution is just a collar with a bell, which should be available at any pet shop.
posted by Lorc at 12:00 AM on October 29, 2021 [6 favorites]

Lorc, I wish that suggestion actually worked. My cats learnt to walk without setting off the bell. I then tried two bells. No luck. As far as I know, the collar you’re looking for doesn’t exist but I’m really interested in seeing if anyone else has found a solution.
posted by Jubey at 12:11 AM on October 29, 2021 [6 favorites]

Best answer: There are fabric ruffle collar covers (the ones I used were Birdsbesafe brand) that are brightly colored, reflective, etc. and claim to alert birds to the presence of cats. I cannot actually claim to the bird-deterring aspect (I used them to help me keep track of an older dark-colored indoor cat with health issues who was also a genius at hiding.) but they do have the advantage of a cat can't learn to walk silently as with bell collars. They are also obviously very visible so if your cat gets lost it makes it very obvious this is a pet cat and not a stray so you have better chances of getting them home. And, last but not least, you get to make your cat look utterly ridiculous.
posted by mochi_cat at 12:32 AM on October 29, 2021 [14 favorites]

Best answer: Apparently this type of jester collar has been scientifically proven to reduce hunting. (Research published in a peer reviewed journal.) You can sew your own, too.

On preview, jinx, mochi_cat!
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 12:36 AM on October 29, 2021 [5 favorites]

Just get a collar that beeps in bird hearing range every 5 seconds. Hopefully a frequency that doesn't bother dogs or humans that much. Getting some microcontroller with AI code to detect predatory action would be much harder.

At least.... an electronic bell that is remote controlled that only rings all the time no matter what when you hit the key fob when letting the cat out. Give it a bit more and you could patch in a summon back home for din-din time or hell-no sound.

Sounds like a cat collar startup.

On preview: or dress your cat up in costumes.
posted by zengargoyle at 12:37 AM on October 29, 2021 [2 favorites]

Mmm... good luck?

If they're determined, they'll just remove the collar, no matter what type. For extra annoyance, they'll sneakily remove JUST THE BELL and so you won't realize it's gone. (My daughter's cat does it, and she's not even trying to prevent hunting, since the cats are indoor-only... she just wants to have a better chance of knowing where the little brat is!)

And if it's good enough they can't remove it, I'd be too worried they'd get it caught on something. We had one when I was a kid that somehow always got her flea collar stuck on things. (I think it was because she'd try to scrape it off her neck, and then it would catch.)
posted by stormyteal at 1:20 AM on October 29, 2021

I put an anklet full of bells on a cat's neck while letting her out on a city balcony. She promptly came back with a swift in her teeth. It's hard to outsmart a determined cat when it comes to hunting.
posted by I claim sanctuary at 1:47 AM on October 29, 2021 [3 favorites]

As others have said - bells don't work very well because birds don't see bells as a particular signal for alarm. This is particularly bad because it gives many humans a false assurance that the bells are helping. Birds do see movement as a signal for alarm - hence the relative effectiveness of brightly coloured collars.

Apart from collars there are also some steps you can take to give the birds a stronger hand in the equation. This has worked out for us:
1. Put out bird feeders - or more of them. Counter-intuitively this helps because more birds equals more eyes to keep a look out for predators. It will also help boost the bird population to counteract the impact of any caught by cats.
2. Provide dense cover for the birds - plants or trees which birds can get in and out of but which cats are to big to enter.
3. But make sure that any feeders don't have nearby hiding spaces for cats.
4. Natural feeding of birds - by planting trees with berries and fruits - works even better than artificial feeding - because that food is high up!
posted by rongorongo at 2:19 AM on October 29, 2021 [4 favorites]

Response by poster: The jester style collar is ridiculous and aborable. I am going to make one and see how we go. I don't know if she's much of a hunter anymore, but just want to reduce the risks.

Bells are out because, as noted by others, they don't seem that effective.

Thanks all
posted by kinddieserzeit at 2:53 AM on October 29, 2021 [1 favorite]

(You may note that there are dozens of bell toys that owners of captive birds can buy for their pet's pleasure and entertainment . Compare and contrast with the cat collar bells that are supposed to be scary to them!)
posted by rongorongo at 2:59 AM on October 29, 2021

Well, the other option was to get a bird pet and train the cat to like birds. Either case is trying to somehow control natural reactions through domestication or just training. Only a bird living in a house will think a noise attached to a cat is a toy to be played with.
posted by zengargoyle at 4:31 AM on October 29, 2021

Here is a link to the cat bib you asked about. I haven't tried it yet, but I did manage to get birdsbesafe collars, with bells, on the two feral cats that hang around my house. I also leave wet and dry food out for them twice a day. I still find piles of feathers, wings, headless mice, flying squirrel tails... you get the picture. Maybe they're killing less? But I no longer believe anything can stop them completely. I wish it were otherwise.
posted by probably not that Karen Blair at 8:23 AM on October 29, 2021

I see the link isn't there. I'll contact a mod.
posted by probably not that Karen Blair at 8:24 AM on October 29, 2021

Best answer: cat bib
posted by probably not that Karen Blair at 8:26 AM on October 29, 2021 [2 favorites]

Best answer: It's not something for the cat to wear, so forgive me if this is outside the purview of your question. In my experience the most effective way to keep cats from catching birds is by making sure they're only allowed outdoors during the day.

Twilight is their peak hunting time (you probably noticed how alert and watchful they get outside at those times of day), so bring them in in the evening and maybe don't let them out too early in the winter.

Of course I don't know if that's practical for you, or indeed something you're already doing. Good luck.
posted by Lorc at 8:44 AM on October 29, 2021

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