Here’s advice from the Humane Society, an excerpt from All Animals magazine, January/February 2011 on how to “foil cat burglars”:
Keeping cats inside is the best way to ensure their safety and protect wild animals in the area. But if you’re feeding a feral cat colony or your neighbors let their kitties roam—and you also enjoy putting out bird feeders—follow these tips to promote everyone’s safety.
- Position feeders at least 12 feet away from grass and shrubs, which can serve as good cat cover. If possible, place the feeders within 15 feet of trees, where birds can hide or flee from avian predators.
- If you can, hang feeders on a wire strung at least 8 feet above the ground, between two trees that are at least 8 feet apart.
- If your feeder is mounted on a pole, install a predator guard (a metal cone with the wide bottom facing down) to keep cats and other animals from climbing up.
- Place circular fences, about 2 feet high and 4 feet in diameter, on the ground directly below feeders to make it difficult for cats and predators to creep up on birds unseen.
Use high-quality food that birds will be sure to devour, rather than let some of it fall to the ground, where it can attract other types of birds and make them vulnerable. Also install a spill tray to catch seeds.
- Put down sharp-edged gravel beneath feeders—or, under a shallow layer of dirt or mulch, bury small-gauge chicken wire, a plastic carpet runner with the knobby side up, or a deterrent mat such as the Cat Scat brand. Cats don’t like walking on these types of irregular surfaces.
- Drive cats away from feeders with CatStop, a motion-activated product that sends out a burst of high-pitched ultrasonic vibrations—inaudible to humans but uncomfortable for cats. Or install a motion-activated sprinkler to soak cats stalking birds at feeders.
- To prevent attracting cats to your yard, store garbage in a container with a lid that locks in place.
- Do not leave food for your cat outdoors, as this can attract additional cats and other predators. If you feed feral cats, make sure they are spayed or neutered, and put food out at a designated time when you are present to monitor for predators. Take the food away when everyone is done eating.