Protecting wildlife from cats

Protecting wildlife from cats

Wildlife biologists at Murdoch University have confirmed that commercially available CatBibs can help reduce the number of attacks on wildlife in WA by altering the hunting behaviour of cats.

Mike Calver, Associate Professor in Biological Sciences worked with 56 cat owners in Perth to find out whether CatBibs could reduce attacks by cats on wildlife.

The cats involved in the research had been identified by their owners as hunters and most came from the outer suburban foothills where cats have ready access to native bushland. Each pet spent a period of 3 weeks wearing the device and 3 weeks without it.

“The results revealed that the CatBibs stopped 81 per cent of cats from catching birds, 33 per cent from catching reptiles and frogs, and 45 per cent from catching mammals,” Associate Professor Calver said.

“Alone or in combination with a bell, these deterrent devices may lead to reductions of 50 per cent in the numbers of prey taken by pet cats and may stop some from hunting altogether.

"They cause no significant cat welfare issues beyond the risk inherent in wearing a safety collar."

Associate Professor Calver says that cat ownership is declining in Australia in contrast to the increasing popularity of pet cats in Europe and the United States.

"One reason for this could be that pet cats are bad for wildlife, and raise concern for the environment.

"This is supported by the strong response for volunteers for this project.”

Worn by cats while they are outside the CatBibs are made of neoprene, which is a light, tear resistant fabric used in wetsuits. They attach to the collar via a hook and loop pads (Velcro) which release if the CatBib snags.

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