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March 20, 2024

Almost half of all cat owners are unaware how best to protect songbirds

Today, we have joined together with the charity Cats Protection to issue advice to cat owners, as our survey shows many aren’t aware of how to reduce their pets’ hunting habits. Our survey of 1,000 cat owners, conducted by pollster YouGov, says that almost half of cat owners (46%) aren’t aware of ways to reduce cat predation.  When asked to suggest the best ways to reduce hunting, less than one in 10 owners picked out any of the three that are scientifically-proven to work best - keeping cats in at night, feeding cats protein-rich food and playing with cats.

“March is a particularly vulnerable time for songbirds as we are in the nesting and breeding season, which runs up to July,” says Susan Morgan, CEO of Songbird Survival who has a cat called Barney. “Birds gather materials to make their nests, fledgling birds leave their nests and birds may undertake riskier behaviours to gather food to feed their young. And though many cat owners know and care a great deal about bird conservation and their cats’ impact on it, the survey suggests more education is needed to protect songbird populations. Caring for your cat in a way that helps manage the impact of their hunting habits is a small and instant change that cat owners can make to help songbird populations thrive.”    
Nicky Trevorrow, Behaviour Manager for Cats Protection said: “It’s important to protect songbird populations from decline and cat owners and bird lovers can make a big difference by putting up nest boxes as well as not using pesticides in their gardens. Hunting is a natural, innate behaviour for cats and they feel driven to do it. Not all cats hunt and it generally reduces as they age. However, just a few simple strategies can protect birds and benefit your cat’s welfare too.”  
Songbird Survival’s and Cats Protection’s top tips are:

• Play with your cat for 5-10 minutes every day as it allows them to exhibit their natural hunting behaviour and reduces their motivation to seek out prey. Pick out a toy that mimics prey movement – such as a fishing-rod toy    

• Feed cats with a premium, meat-rich food as it’s been scientifically shown to reduce hunting tendencies  

• Keep cats in at night to help songbird populations and to reduce the chances of your cat being involved in a road traffic accident.

Cats Protection also urges people to get their pet cat neutered as it not only reduces cat over-population but also makes them less likely to fight, reducing the spread of infectious disease such as Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV). It also reduces the risk of certain cancers in female cats such as mammary cancer.

Our research with the University of Exeter shows that regular play with a cat and feeding them a premium diet reduced the amount of prey brought home by a cat by as much as 25% and 36% respectively.  

View our guide for cat owners and other tips here. You can also take part in our fun quiz for cat owners to enter our competition to win a bundle of Lily’s Kitchen goodies for your cat.

For further advice, please visit Songbird Survival’s Get EduCated campaign at or Cats Protection’s website at  

For further information or photos, please contact Cats Protection’s Media Team on or Songbird Survival’s PR team on  






1. The survey of 1,000 cat owners was conducted by You Gov on behalf of Songbird Survival in September 2023.

2. Songbird Survival’s guide on how cat owners can care for their cats and songbirds is available at and the University of Exeter’s study into cat behaviour is available at

3. Songbird Survival is the only charity in the UK dedicated solely to halting and reversing the alarming population decline of songbirds and other small birds. It does this by supporting research carried out by experts at top universities and conservation organisations in the UK into the cause of the decline, and the solutions. More information is available at:

4. Cats Protection is the UK’s leading cat welfare charity and has helped an average of 157,000 cats and kittens a year over the last five years through its national network which includes around 210 volunteer-run branches and 34 centres.

5. Cats Protection was founded in 1927 as the Cats Protection League. We ask that you use the name Cats Protection when referring to the charity.

6. Cats Protection is a registered charity 203644 (England and Wales), SC037711 (Scotland) and is listed as a Section 167 Institution by the Charity Commission of Northern Ireland. A company limited by guarantee registered in England and Wales (06772997). Registered office National Cat Centre, Chelwood Gate, Haywards Heath, Sussex, RH17 7TT

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