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Cats & Cat Deterrents

A Wildlife Tip Sheet™ from Jacobi Jayne & Company

by David Tomlinson

Nobody knows for sure how many cats there are in Britain but conservative estimates put the number at around 7 million. If each of these cats kills 10 birds a year (a reasonable average since many kill far more while others rarely kill any), that's 70 million birds a year less in our towns and countryside. Cats play a major part in controlling garden bird populations and their impact is much greater than that of any other predators, including the much maligned magpie. While magpies take many eggs and fledgling birds, cats kill adults. Destroying mature breeding birds has a far greater impact on a population than removing youngsters.

Taxing Man's Ingenuity

As we all know, cats do not respect boundaries, for their considerable climbing skills allows them free access to all but the most fortified garden. Keeping unwanted cats out of your garden is a considerable challenge, and one that has taxed the skill and ingenuity of many people.

Putting Prickles to Work

Cats are drawn to bird feeding stations and bird tables, often hiding under bushes close by in the hope of ambushing an unwary bird. Here, cuttings of gorse, blackthorn, hawthorn or other prickly shrubs, such as pyracantha, can be highly effective. The cuttings should be put under the ambush points, leaving no room for the hunting cat. Cats are thin skinned so do not relish coming into close contact with prickly plants.

A Spiked Belt

Available from Jacobi Jayne. Nesting birds invariably prove an irresistible draw for cats; some individuals will even sit on the top of nesting boxes waiting for the unfortunate bird to emerge. Here again, a bunch of gorse tied around the trunk of the nesting tree will foil even the most determined feline. Equally effective and much longer-lasting is Jacobi Jayne's Cat Deterrent. This is a spiked belt that circles the tree trunk, and so prevents cats from climbing past it. The belt is easily adapted for different tree circumferences.

Ultrasonic Deterrents

Fierce or noisy dogs may be the world's most effective cat deterrent, but new technology has come up with an even better solution: the ultrasonic device that emits a high-frequency pulsating sound that cats dislike. Unlike dogs, these devices never sleep, so remain constantly on guard. Various models are available, some of which require a low-voltage mains adapter, while

others use batteries. Some ultrasonic devices are claimed to keep away dogs, foxes and other unwanted mammals, as well as cats, while others are aimed solely at cats.

The most widely used of these devices is calledCATWatch and costs 49 from Jacobi Jayne. It protects an area up to 1,350 square feet and is powered by either a PP3 battery or an optional mains adaptor. Every time a cat is detected by its infra-red sensor, CATWatch emits a series of high frequency alarms which are only audible, and extremely irritating, to cats. It works day and night in all temperatures, and only affects cats.

Scarecrow Cat Deterrents

Cats, squirrels and other unwelcome visitors will be speedily but humanely banished from your garden with this innovation. Movement sensors trigger a powerful jet of water for three seconds before resetting. Sensitivity and distance can be adjusted. This device costs 69.95 from Jacobi Jayne.

Belling Your Cat

Protecting your garden birds from other people's cats is one thing, but protecting them from your own cat is equally difficult. The time-honoured method of belling the cat is still popular, though not everyone is convinced that a cat wearing a bell is particularly handicapped when it comes to hunting birds. Most cats hunt by waiting motionless, before making a sudden dash for their victim. If the bird then hears the bell, it is probably too late. If your cat is a confirmed hunter, it is not fair to encourage birds into your garden. By keeping it well fed you may reduce its urge to hunt, while you should also consider restricting the time it spends outside.

David Tomlinson


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