Rainbow cat collars may save birds

February 18, 2015 by Michelle Wheeler
A cat wearing the rainbow Birdsbesafe cat collar. Credit: Catherine Hall

It might resemble a flashback to early 90s fashion but a scrunchie-like collar cover could be the key to reducing the amount of wildlife your cat kills.

A WA study of the collar covers, marketed as Birdsbesafe, found they reduced the number of birds, reptiles and amphibians killed by cats by 54 per cent.

But the collar covers did not stop cats catching mammals, meaning they could be used in situations where cat owners want their pets to continue to prey on rats and mice.

Murdoch University PhD student Catherine Hall, who led the research, recruited more than 100 cats actively hunting prey in Perth's outer suburbs and nearby towns to take part in the study.

Over the course of six weeks, the cats' owners collected and froze everything their pets brought home, and the prey were later identified by the WA Museum.

Ms Hall says the Birdsbesafe collar cover was most effective at protecting birds and herpetofauna (reptiles and amphibians), which have good colour vision.

"They're best used by owners whose cats catch a lot of birds and lizards and either don't catch a lot of mice and rats, or their owners don't care whether they catch mice and rats," she says.

"A lot of farmers use to catch rats and mice in their sheds… so they might find it quite useful because it won't stop them from catching those but it will stop them from catching any lizards and birds that live on the farm."

Ms Hall says owners might be better off looking to other products on the market, such as bells and pounce protectors, in areas where there are a lot of small native mammals.

The research examined three collar cover colours, referred to in the study as red, yellow and rainbow.

In , the red and rainbow fashions were much more effective than the yellow collar.

"A lot of songbirds eat from flowers… so some colours will be more important to them than others in terms of what they tend to notice," Ms Hall says.

Almost 80 per cent of the owners involved in the research reported that their cat had no problems with the collar and another 17 per cent said their cat got used to the collar within two days.

Nearly four out of five indicated that they would continue to use the collar after the study finished.

The research was published in January in the journal Applied Animal Behaviour Science.

Explore further: Study: 3 out of 4 cats will wear a collar, making it worth a try

More information: Catherine M. Hall, Joseph B. Fontaine, Kate A. Bryant, Michael C. Calver, "Assessing the effectiveness of the Birdsbesafe anti-predation collar cover in reducing predation on wildlife by pet cats in Western Australia," Applied Animal Behaviour Science, Available online 25 January 2015, ISSN 0168-1591, dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.applanim.2015.01.004.

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25 comments

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KBK
5 / 5 (1) Feb 18, 2015
The cat does not look amused.
Milou
not rated yet Feb 18, 2015
Wearing something like that around my neck, I would also, not be amused. But it looks cute. The problem is that it would get ripped off in no time. Cats don't like neck choker fashion statements.
antonima
1 / 5 (4) Feb 18, 2015
REALLY? Are we concerned about our wildlife killing other wildlife? I didn't know the guilt train had this many wagons.
Moebius
5 / 5 (1) Feb 18, 2015
I hear keeping cats indoors is 100% effective.

Migratory birds in other countries, some spend time here, are under increasing pressure from people. We don't need to let cats decimate the songbird population here. There are even people who are using nets to catch and eat migratory songbirds who don't have a mouthful of meat. They should all be killed, I would rather have the birds.
malapropism
4.4 / 5 (7) Feb 18, 2015
REALLY? Are we concerned about our wildlife killing other wildlife?.

Absolutely yes. Domestic cats kill large numbers of native fauna and are a serious threat to (especially native and usually protected) wildlife in urban and rural areas. Many, maybe all, States and Territories in Australia have a nighttime curfew on domestic cats and any caught out after sunset can be rounded up and impounded and ultimately destroyed if not claimed; owners face fines when they do claim their caught-out-at-night moggy.
adam_russell_9615
not rated yet Feb 18, 2015
REALLY? Are we concerned about our wildlife killing other wildlife? I didn't know the guilt train had this many wagons.


The president of the Audubon society of Az once posted that "birds have no defense against cats".
cantdrive85
1 / 5 (5) Feb 18, 2015
I hear killing a cat is 100% effective in preventing that cat from killing birds. Solution, kill any cat you see!
Captain Stumpy
3.7 / 5 (7) Feb 19, 2015
REALLY? Are we concerned about our wildlife killing other wildlife? I didn't know the guilt train had this many wagons.
@antonima
Not wildlife, but domestic cats
big difference: http://www.abcbir...tion.pdf

that means, by humans supporting feline companions and allowing them to be protected from natural predation, we are skewing the odds in favor of the feline hunters and allowing birds to be killed unnecessarily, as well as increasing the predation of birds by other species

the study
http://onlinelibr...025/epdf

keeping cats indoors is 100% effective.
@Moebius
this assumes that you will always have 100% control, which is unrealistic
there is no guarantee that a cat will remain inside
this also in no way curbs the current cat problem... and that's not even considering the feral cat problem

then there are pet & feral dogs and problems
it is more a -people- problem than you think
alfie_null
5 / 5 (3) Feb 19, 2015
This would be harder to measure, but suppose if also over time cats with these collars tend to focus more on stalking rodents, as they learn such are easier to catch.
Returners
1 / 5 (4) Feb 19, 2015
How about this?

Small cats were made to hunt small animals, including birds, insects, mice, moles, rabbits, squirrels, etc.

"Wah, wah, a cat ate a bird."

PETA, you know, your PET eats things. Your pet food comes from left-over fish and cattle products that humans don't eat...but you curse McDonalds for raising and killing cattle...

PETA: "OMG they killed COW and a FISH. It' s crime against nature. I'm a hypocrite because I own a dog and a cat, but sue McDonalds, Burger King and Wendy's, and ruin consumers' lives, because they sell ANIMAL PRODUCTS."

It's just a cat. It eats birds sometimes. Get over it.

PETA: "They killed a CHICKEN to make chicken pot pie! My cat food has chicken products in it, so I'm a hypocrite, but sue Colonel Sanders for crimes against nature.."
Returners
1 / 5 (5) Feb 19, 2015
PETA: "My Gelatin has proteins which are extracted from CATTLE bones as it's primary ingredient, but I'm a hypocrite because I sued McDonalds."

WooooOOOO....

We live in a world dominated by fad lobbyists and political groups who are freaking idiots.

Bad enough to be an educated fool, but an uneducated fool is even worse.
Uncle Ira
4.3 / 5 (6) Feb 19, 2015
Bad enough to be an educated fool, but an uneducated fool is even worse.


That's what I've been trying to tell you Cher. So why don't you sit down and read a little more. That way you will be the more educated fool instead of the uneducated fool with the mental conditions.
Moebius
4 / 5 (4) Feb 21, 2015
I hear killing a cat is 100% effective in preventing that cat from killing birds. Solution, kill any cat you see!


Careful, I like cats and I have a concealed carry permit. And yes, if I saw you do something to a cat I'd seriously consider shooting you.
MandoZink
5 / 5 (3) Feb 22, 2015
The two cats that took up residence on my back porch don't seem to give a shit about birds. They'll lay 2 feet from their food dish while birds fly down and eat every bit of it. They know I'll just put more food in the bowl. Sometimes I wish they hadn't figured that out. The birds leave excrement on the porch. The cats could at least bother to growl, or hiss, or just fucking move around a little. But no. It's time for the little birdies to eat. So the cats just lay there.

Even at night, the back-porch cats seem to get along great with the racoons and possums who also eat their food. More than once I've watched a cat and a racoon eat out of the same bowl together. I'm gonna fill the damned bowls again in the morning anyhow, so what's the difference?

My 5 indoor cats see that shit too, and know how easy I am. Why did I even let those 5 in?

Jeez,... I'm such a chump.
tear88
5 / 5 (4) Feb 22, 2015
I still want to see some method of sterilizing 99.9% of all domestic cats, including the feral ones, but in a way that doesn't also sterilize bobcats, panthers, etc. I like cats, but the current situation is driving some birds to extinction.
tear88
5 / 5 (3) Feb 22, 2015
Moebius: Better not visit New Zealand, then. Some people there are dedicated to exterminating non-human mammals from the islands. That includes not just rats, rabbits, etc.; it also includes cats. They don't sterilize them and return them to the wild. They kill them.
cantdrive85
1 / 5 (5) Feb 22, 2015
I hear killing a cat is 100% effective in preventing that cat from killing birds. Solution, kill any cat you see!


Careful, I like cats and I have a concealed carry permit. And yes, if I saw you do something to a cat I'd seriously consider shooting you.

Not if I shoot your dumbass first. See, I like intelligence but hate stupidity. And yes, if I saw you doing something stupid like pull a gun on me, I'd drop you like fourth period gym class.
saposjoint
5 / 5 (4) Feb 22, 2015
Maybe making threats of violence like that will get your sorry ass banned. Finally.
cantdrive85
1 / 5 (5) Feb 22, 2015
Maybe making threats of violence like that will get your sorry ass banned. Finally.

But it's ok directed this way, nice.
malapropism
5 / 5 (2) Feb 22, 2015
@tear88
Moebius: Better not visit New Zealand, then. Some people there are dedicated to exterminating non-human mammals from the islands. That includes not just rats, rabbits, etc.; it also includes cats. They don't sterilize them and return them to the wild. They kill them.

In fact, the Department of Conservation ("DoC", a Government agency) has a well-publicised and publicly-well-supported policy of ongoing eradication of *all* non-native animal and plant species from numerous offshore islands. This is so successful (NZ is the world-leader in such efforts) that there are now several offshore islands, some of them pretty big, that are open sanctuaries, that is, any member of the public can visit and see native birds, reptiles, insects and other fauna in close-to-natural conditions.

This policy has been extended to include several large mainland protected areas where rare endemic species are being re-established after having been wiped out by introduced predators.
Shootist
5 / 5 (3) Feb 22, 2015
Bell the cat. Always
Woodsman
1 / 5 (1) Mar 02, 2015
I bought 5,000 rounds of these cat-accessories on a close-out sale for only $15, and only used-up less than 1,000 of them so far. No cat needed more than one. And I have lots left-over to accessorize any future cats that are needing and begging to be "collared". Though I doubt that will be anytime soon. I've not seen even one cat in the whole area needing to be "accessorized" in over five years now. This product truly is that marvelous and effective! Not only does it solve the cat-problem, it even turns criminally-negligent, criminally-irresponsible, and morally-bankrupt pet-owners into responsible adults at long last!! They finally learn what it means to love their "family" pet and to keep it safe from all harm. Like real adults! Doesn't get better than that! No matter which way you look at it, this is one truly marvelous invention that needs to be given to the free-roaming cat of any cat-owner on earth. All the wildlife of the world and all your truly adult friends will thank-you gr
Woodsman
1 / 5 (1) Mar 02, 2015
They also come in a few different sizes and shapes, and some even come in different colors! For that discerning and picky pet-owner's neighbor that wants to match what accessory goes best with their neighbor's cat.

"Whoa!" "Sounds too good to be true," you say?! "This cannot be! It sounds like snake-oil to cure all ills. You're a liar and charlatan!!" Nay, not at all! This is the one of those rare exceptions to the rule where a product actually IS that good, accomplishes every last thing that I claim, and is just that inexpensive and easily obtainable. I shîť-you not!

Can you guess what that inexpensive and easily obtainable cat-accessory is? Answer: a bullet.
Woodsman
1 / 5 (1) Mar 02, 2015
Plus, on top of all that, it even sterilizes the cats so they can no longer reproduce! A free spaying or neutering thrown in -- FOR FREE!

FAR less expensive, and they work for the lifetime of that cat! You don't have to worry about a cat losing it or damaging it either so you NEVER have to buy another one, it is a permanent embellishment for your adorable kitty. You also don't have to worry about being scratched or bitten by an unruly cat, as you can accessorize anyone's cat with it even from a great distance! (For most reliable application of this cat-accessory keep the distance to cat less than 150-yards/450-feet away.)
Woodsman
1 / 5 (1) Mar 02, 2015
Do you know what extremely inexpensive ($0.003 to $0.04 cost per cat) and easily obtainable accessory for everyone's cats has a 100% effective rate to stop them from killing ALL birds, ALL small animals, and even (get this) is 100% effective at vaccinating them against every last one of the 3dozen+ deadly zoonotic diseases that stray cats are spreading to the cats of responsible pet-owners, other animals, and humans -- even those diseases cats are now spreading to others for which there are no vaccines against them (and are therefore listed as bio-terrorism and bio-warfare agents).

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