Cats & Birdwatching

There is no question that birds are better off when cats stay indoors. Exact numbers are unknown, but scientists estimate that every year in the North America, cats kill hundreds of millions of birds, and more than a billion small mammals, including rabbits, squirrels, and chipmunks. Feline predators include both domestic cats that spend time outdoors and stray cats that live in the wild, sometimes as part of a colony.

Life for outdoor cats is risky. They can get hit by cars; attacked by dogs, other cats, coyotes or wildlife; contract fatal diseases, such as rabies, feline distemper, or feline immunodeficiency virus; get lost, stolen, or poisoned; or suffer during severe weather conditions. Outdoor cats lead considerably shorter lives on average than cats kept exclusively indoors.

Primary Birds Impacted

  • Millions of common songbirds, such as the Cardinal, Blue Jay, and House Wren and long-distance migrants such as Indigo Bunting, Blue and Yellow Warbler.
  • Rare and endangered species
  • Birds that nest or feed on the ground


Cat owners should keep their cats indoors. There are a number of ways that people can help their cats adjust to an indoor lifestyle. Many veterinarians and animal welfare organizations support keeping cats indoors for their own safety, as well as to prevent them from killing wildlife.