Birdwatching: Environmental Enrichment for Indoor Cats

cats_birdwatching

Cats often get a bad reputation with regards to birds. A few years ago, I wrote Faulty Science Spread Lies About Cats and Their Impact on Wildlife, and even though the post is a few years old, the information is still relevant. But there is a way for birds to not only coexist peacefully with cats, they can also provide stimulating entertainment for indoor cats, and the best part: nobody gets hurt.

The topic of indoor vs. outdoor cats can be controversial for many, but for me, it’s pretty black and white. All of my cats have always been, and will always be, indoor cats. Indoor cats live longer and safer lives, and as long as you provide plenty of environmental enrichment, frequent playtime, and lots of love and attention, cats will never miss the great outdoors.

A strategically placed birdfeeder could turn out to be one of the most popular choices of entertainment for your indoor cats. I happen to love birds, and love watching the activity at our feeder almost as much as Allegra and Ruby do (although I won’t chatter my teeth when I get excited…)

I keep a birdfeeder on my deck from about November through March. The feeder was actually built by my dad during his last visit with me, more than 18 years ago.

homemade birdfeeder

The girls love the birdfeeder and it provides hours of entertainment.

Ruby: Allegra, look! It’s a little red bird. It matches the color of the house’s roof!

Allegra: I see it, Ruby. Mom says the red birds are called Cardinals.

Ruby: Whatever. I want to eat it!

Allegra: Silly kitten. You can’t catch it. Just enjoy watching it. Trust me, you wouldn’t want to have to be out there and have to hunt your own breakfast and dinner.

Ruby: But wouldn’t it be fun, Allegra?

Allegra: Maybe once or twice. But I really prefer having my dinner in a bowl, all nice and ready to eat.

Ruby is sometimes torn between napping and birdwatching, so she’s come up with a lazy way to watch the birds from her window perch:

If you need some help setting up a safe haven for birds in your backyard, read Bernadette Kazmarski’s outstanding post on how she created a wildlife habitat aka Cat TV in her backyard. One word of caution: if your cats go outside, do not set up birdfeeders in your yard. You would be turning birds into easy prey, and that’s just not fair to the birds.

Do your cats enjoy birdwatching?

9 Comments on Birdwatching: Environmental Enrichment for Indoor Cats

  1. Bernadette
    January 4, 2018 at 2:26 pm (8 months ago)

    We’re glad so many of you enjoyed our article! Having feeders at two windows, plus birds in the trees because of the feeders outside of all the windows, is very important enrichment, especially for multiple cat households. I am especially gratified when I watch my formerly feral fosters raptly attentive and talking to the birds outside, knowing they don’t have to be out there trying to fend for themselves anymore.

    Reply
  2. Barbara Smith
    January 3, 2018 at 1:59 pm (8 months ago)

    My Peyton loves watching the birds. I have his cat tree right in front of my French door to the patio so he has an excellent view. We also have wild rabbits that I feed and he enjoys watching them too.

    Reply
  3. Nancy Faulkner
    January 3, 2018 at 9:46 am (8 months ago)

    Ingrid,

    Loved your article and video. But….. when you live in an apartment complex, you can’t have feeders!

    Feel birds carry diseases. Plus, other critters they don’t want around. We did have a feeder on our patio but…. had to take down. Tenants complained about the seeds on their patios from the birds.

    By the way…. our cats do miss the feeder! They were entertained.

    Nancy

    Reply
    • Beth
      January 3, 2018 at 1:51 pm (8 months ago)

      Have you tried the various CatTV on YouTube?
      We use it in the winter when there aren’t as many birds around for our cats to watch out the window.

      Reply
    • Ingrid
      January 3, 2018 at 6:05 pm (8 months ago)

      I second Beth’s suggestion: try some videos of birds and squirrels and see how your cats react, Nancy!

      Reply
  4. Gail
    January 3, 2018 at 7:44 am (8 months ago)

    My feeders are referred to as “cat TV”

    Reply
    • Debi
      January 4, 2018 at 1:26 am (8 months ago)

      LOL! That’s what my late husband called it. KTV!

      Reply
  5. Lorraine
    January 3, 2018 at 4:31 am (8 months ago)

    Nicely put and excellent info for “nitwit cat haters”! My Benevolent Overlady has always been an indoor girl and has long outlived those who allowed their poor fur babies outdoors! Here in the desert of Tucson, they are viewed as snacks by coyotes, various hawks and other raptor and all manner of predators here, not to mention risks of being poisoned by scorpions, snakes and even certain insects and spiders! Nope, Schrödinger stays indoors, and so do our birds! They’re all friendly with each other, but they do antagonise each other terribly! They’re all loved dearly and that’s most important.

    Reply
  6. Summer
    January 3, 2018 at 3:22 am (8 months ago)

    What an adorable video of Ruby!

    Reply

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