Is your Pet Cat a Hunter?

[Killer Cat in the 'hood on 2022-09-18]

On Sunday morning, I had the unfortunate experience of witnessing a domestic cat catching, killing and tearing apart a young wild rabbit on the lawn of St. George Catholic School. The City of Ottawa does allow cats to roam, but this cat (pictured above) was not wearing a collar and tag as required.

I appreciate the wildlife in our neighbourhood. Most of it, anyway. I enjoy seeing the wild rabbits munching on grass in my backyard and laugh at the antics of the chipmunks and squirrels. I have seen raccoons and skunks foraging in my yard, too, and even the occasional fox. I have also seen many species of birds in our neighbourhood. All of these play a role in maintaining the health of our local ecosystem and many of them are threatened by domestic cats “hunting”. The bird feeders that many of us have in our yards attract birds and other wildlife, which in turn attract free-roaming cats. I have chased a number of local cats out of my yard many times, including the cat pictured above.

Peter Blancher, a scientist with Environment Canada, estimates that house cats kill 38 to 133 million birds in Canada per year. Ted Chesky of Nature Canada reported a similar number of birds killed by pet cats in Canada. That’s an astounding number!

If you currently have a pet cat that you allow to go outdoors, please consider keeping it inside. There are creative indoor options for indoor cats including a “catio”. If you allow your cat to go outdoors, please equip it with a noise device (like a bell) on its collar. Cats are not easily seen by birds because they blend in well with our natural environment. Equipping your cat with a Birdsbesafe collar (available at several online sources), which is a comfortable but colourful collar, will help birds see the cat and make it more difficult for the cat to ambush birds and other wildlife.

Brian T.

11 thoughts on “Is your Pet Cat a Hunter?

  1. My neighbour’s cat killed a beautiful cardinal in my backyard. I had asked her repeatedly to keep the cat out of my yard. Her reply? “Cat’s need to hunt.” Suffice to say our relationship has been frosty every since.

  2. I agree. I’ve had a cat sit on our front porch chairs, leaving cat hair al over. I’m allergic to cat hair so don’t appreciate having to clean up cat hair before I sit on my chairs. Cats can be taken for walks on a leash! Much better than eating birds and other small animals!

  3. Thanks Brian for your post. The problem, of course, is not the instincts of the cat (the notion that “cats will be cats”) but rather the blindness of cat owners that allow their cats to roam. The notion that cats need to hunt is lame. All cats should be domestic cats only, where they can purr on laps and lap up milk. This particular cat has been a problem all summer, and should be immediately removed from the outdoors least it also kill the turkey in the neighbourhood.

  4. Brian’s message is timely. On September 28 at noon, there is a free webinar from Nature Canada and the Stewardship Centre for B.C.
    titled “Effective Strategies for Cat and Bird Welfare” The intent is to be collaborative. The Eventbrite link to register for the webinar is here:

    A Nature Canada handout is here:
    Heather Pearl

  5. Thank you for your wonderful post. I have been very distressed over the past few years at the number of wild life which keeps disappearing in our neighbourhood. We also enjoy watching their antics and their company. What a shame that we can’t live in harmony with nature in this small neighbourhood where there is such wonder with nature. Jean Wevill

  6. The past couple of days the cat in the picture has been hanging out at the vacant property at the far end of Northwestern, on the Tunney’s Pasture side, beside the bike path. It was there 15 mins ago and I believe is a stray hanging out in our neighbourhood. I’m not sure if the Humane Society will pick it up.


    1. If you are willing Bill, could you contact the Humane Society. The cat is a stray, and may not do well over the winter. Best to pick it up now.

      1. Hi Daniel, I spoke with the humane society and they are not permitted to come and get the cat. They said if we can catch it they will be happy to take it in.

  7. I have seen this cat a lot in the north end of Champlain Park all summer. I just chased him away from a chipmunk beside my house and saw him a few days ago coming out of the woods and crossing Pontiac licking his chops so presumably had just caught something. He also regularly sprays my barbecue and barbecue cover (I have an indoor cat). He never has a collar so I’m not sure if he’s a stray or not. He seems pretty well fed but he also seems to be a mighty hunter so he could be a pet or a stray. Could we have animal control trap him?

    Barb de B.

    1. > Could we have animal control trap him?

      Apparently not, according to an older comment here. We’d have to capture the cat, then the Ottawa Humane Society would take it in.

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