Bird Friends: A Complete Bird Book for Americans

By Nancy J. Nabak, Communication & Development Coordinator, Woodland Dunes Nature Center

When it comes to birds and free-roaming cats, it seems to be a “see no evil, speak no evil” situation. But the fact is, there are nasty consequences when free-roaming cats and birds are mixed -– worst-case scenario: the demise of the bird.

For years, researchers and conservationists have been trying to resolve this issue, but miscommunication and misunderstandings seem to get in the way.

We love our pet cats, we truly do, and there is nothing wrong with this. Loving them generally includes feeding them, grooming, and just some good old-fashioned petting to get that purr machine going. But we can’t forget the other love factor: Keeping them inside and away from diseases, from predators, and from preying on other animals, including birds.

Like I said, it’s a message we’ve been hearing for years.

I didn’t realize how many years we’ve been paying attention to this until I came across a beautiful hardcover book entitled Bird Friends: A Complete Bird Book For Americans, by Gilbert H. Trafton. The book was published in 1916.

While skimming it, I turned to page 129 and was surprised to find an accounting titled “The Natural Enemies of Birds.” Observers placed cats atop that list -- and by a wide margin. It further listed cats at the top of its breakdown on “Agencies for which man is responsible.”

So we are still in the same dilemma as was pointed out 107 years ago. The bottom line: Now, more than ever, with three billion breeding birds lost from our continent in just the last five decades, it’s vital for the preservation of our native birds that we stand taller and stronger than ever before on this issue of keeping our cats indoors.


Read more:

Cats Indoors (American Bird Conservancy)

Seven Simple Actions to Help Birds (Cornell Lab of Ornithology)

Bird City Recognition Criteria Requirements