Curfews for cats to protect birds: a good idea or not?

City ecologist Denny Topping wants a curfew for cats. They hunt birds that are now in the breeding season. His idea: keeping cats indoors at night protects birds more.

Jan Ruddts, from Vogelbeachherming Flanders, has a few questions. “Cats may be more active at night, but birds are mainly during the day. Females sit on eggs, males bring food. At night, birds are completely passive. Except for the owl or nightingale, which are currently returning to Flanders from winter in Africa.”

So many victims

“We know that cats cause a lot of victims. There are already over 2 million domestic cats in Belgium. So you have to add wild animals, shelter, climb up and cats from a pet store.”

The search has already been done. In the Netherlands, for example, 18 million birds are said to be killed by a cat every year. “Birds are most at risk when they spawn. They have little flying experience. They leave the nest and often land on the lawn or the patio table. Cats watch closely and hop into it.”

But isn’t this just nature? “Nature is not really a paradise,” says Jan Rhodes. “It’s a matter of eating or being eaten.” “But there is a certain balance between prey and predators. Domestic cats are not animals that belong to nature. They disturb the balance. I have no problem with a sparrow hawk that hunts a house sparrow, this is nature. But I have that. A problem with a cat catching a house sparrow.”


Cats don’t just kill to eat their prey. Often they do this to fish to get thanks from their owner. “I’ve always heard you should scold your cat when you get home with a bird. It might change your cat’s mind. But of course it’s hunting instinct.”

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Denton Watson

"Friend of animals everywhere. Evil twitter fan. Pop culture evangelist. Introvert."

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