February is National Bird Feeding Month. Find out why installing a bird feeder for cats to watch is a great way to provide entertainment and stimulation. Plus, get tips on installing your bird feeder for cats, as well as how to keep cats away from bird feeders outside.
Why get a bird feeder for cats to watch?
If you have an indoor-only cat, you might be worried that your cat isn’t getting enough stimulation. First off, know that keeping your cat indoors is certainly a smart idea: Indoor cats live much longer, healthier lives on average than outdoor cats, or even indoor-outdoor cats. Furthermore, keeping your cat inside helps protect vulnerable wildlife (like birds!).
That said, living life indoors can get a bit stagnant for your cat. That’s why it is important that your cat stay active and entertained—even when you’re not around. An easy way to do this is by giving your cat the opportunity to observe the outside world. From perches to cat shelves and cat trees placed in front of windows, taking in the great outdoors will prove mentally stimulating for your cat. And what could be more stimulating for your cat than observing the comings and goings of birds?
Cats love watching things in rapid motion, and their eyes are carefully attuned to observing small movements. Whether you’re thinking about a window bird feeder for cats or a traditional bird feeder a short distance away from the window, attracting birds for cats to watch is a great idea!
Tips on installing your bird feeder for cats
There are a few things you should keep in mind when installing a bird feeder for cats.
- Choose a window that is at least 10 feet above the ground: This is to prevent outdoor cats from making a snack out of the visiting birds (sad, but true!) and to prevent other creatures like squirrels from eating the bird food.
- Make sure your window and window screens are secure: The last thing you want is for your cat to escape out the window or fall through a screen.
- With a window bird feeder, set up your cat’s perch or tree a few feet away: If your cat is sitting right in the window, he or she will basically be right on top of the bird feeder. Chances are, birds will feel too intimidated to visit the feeder.
- Make sure a traditional bird feeder is 5-6 feet away from the window where your cat will be: While it’s no problem for your cat to sit directly in the window in this case, you’ll still want to make sure the traditional bird feeder isn’t too close to the window.
- Do your research on which birds you’d like to attract: Are you looking for songbirds? Or perhaps unique, colorful species? Choose a handful of native birds you’d like to attract. This will determine the type of feeder and variety of food you want to buy. (Hint: Your cat won’t care what kind of bird it is!)
How to keep cats away from bird feeders outside
Say your cat goes outdoors or you’ve seen neighborhood cats around (feral or pets). As we mentioned earlier, you’ll want to make sure the bird feeder is out of reach of felines. Check out these tips on how to keep cats away from bird feeders:
- Avoid ground-based bird feeders. Opt for feeders that hang from a tall pole or suction to a window that is at least 10 feet above ground.
- Keep your feeder out in the open (not including window feeders). Because cats are ambush predators, they like to hunt their prey from cover. Placing the bird feeder away from bushes, decks, trees, and even patio furniture may deter your cat from stalking the birds.
- Spray scent deterrents around (but not on) the bird feeder. Surprising smells cats hate include citrus-based scents, lavender, rosemary, pepper, cinnamon, mint, and pine or cedar. You could even add a few smelly plants around the feeder, such as coleus canina, geranium, and lemon thyme.
- Make the ground around the bird feeder uncomfortable for your cat to navigate: In addition to smelly plants, try covering the ground with chicken wire, twigs, pine cones, prickly yard trimmings, stone mulch, holly cuttings, or even egg shells.
- Place a motion-activated sprinkler nearby. This type of sprinkler uses infrared rays to detect an animal’s presence before releasing a burst of water. It’s a great way to keep cats out of your garden, too!
Can’t have a bird feeder? Play these bird videos for cats!
Alas, not all of us have the ability to install a bird feeder for cats to watch. In that case, turn to YouTube, which houses dozens of bird videos for cats. Check out a couple popular favorites below:
This National Bird Feeding Month, we hope you’ll consider adding a bird feeder for cats to your home or yard. It’s a win-win for your cat and for the local wildlife!
Cover photo by Ryunosuke Kikuno on Unsplash