How To Keep Cats Away From Bird Feeder

Last Updated on September 12, 2023 by Susan Levitt

Hey there, fellow animal lovers! As an expert in animal behavior, I often receive questions from people who are struggling with cats that keep raiding their bird feeders. While we all love our feline friends dearly, it can be frustrating to see them hunt and kill innocent birds or steal food meant for feathered visitors.

Fortunately, there are several effective strategies you can use to keep cats away from your bird feeder without harming either species. In this article, I’ll share some of my top tips based on years of experience working with domestic animals and observing wildlife behaviors. Whether you’re a seasoned birder or just starting out, these techniques will help protect your backyard ecosystem while ensuring that your furry companions stay safe and happy as well. So let’s dive right in!

Understanding Cat Behavior Around Bird Feeders

Ah, the wonderful world of cats and birds. Two creatures that seem to have an unspoken agreement when it comes to playing a game of cat-and-mouse, or rather, cat-and-bird. As an animal behavior expert, I’ve seen my fair share of feline antics around bird feeders. While some may think it’s just harmless fun for our furry friends, others see it as a serious problem that needs addressing.

Firstly, we need to understand why cats are instinctively drawn towards bird feeders in the first place. It all boils down to their hunting instincts which are deeply ingrained within them. Even domesticated cats cannot escape this primal urge to hunt prey, especially if they’re presented with easy targets such as small birds flitting about near a feeder.

Secondly, one must consider the placement of your bird feeder. If you’ve positioned it too close to bushes or trees where cats can easily hide and pounce on unsuspecting birds, then you’re essentially inviting trouble. The best course of action is to keep your feeder at least 6 feet away from any nearby hiding spots for predators like cats.

Of course, there’s no guarantee that simply moving your feeder will deter determined felines from trying their luck. But by understanding how cat hunting instincts work and taking steps to mitigate potential risks associated with feeding outside animals like birds who attract these hunters, you’ll be well on your way towards reducing the risk of unwanted visitors snatching up feathered friends.

Moving forward into creating a cat-free zone around your feeder requires more than just relocating your setup – but don’t worry! There are simple solutions available that won’t require drastic measures or breaking the bank.

Creating A Cat-Free Zone Around Your Feeder

As an animal behavior expert, I know how important it is to keep cats away from bird feeders. Cats are natural predators and can easily catch birds if given the chance. To prevent this from happening, there are several things you can do to create a cat-free zone around your feeder.

One effective method is to create physical barriers that prevent cats from getting too close to the feeder. This could be as simple as placing some wire mesh or chicken wire around the base of the feeder. Alternatively, you could install a larger barrier such as a fence or wall around the entire feeding area.

Another option is to plant cat deterring plants around your feeder. These plants have strong smells that cats find unpleasant and will discourage them from coming near. Examples include lavender, rue, and pennyroyal. Be sure to research which plants are safe for birds before planting them in your garden.

It’s important to note that these methods may not work 100% of the time, especially with determined cats. Therefore, it’s essential to always supervise outdoor pets and take additional precautions if necessary.

By creating a cat-free zone around your feeder using physical barriers and cat-deterring plants, you’ll be able to enjoy watching birds without worrying about their safety. In the next section, we’ll discuss another effective way of keeping cats away – motion-activated sprinklers.

Using Motion-Activated Sprinklers

If you want to keep your bird feeder safe from curious cats, then motion-activated sprinklers are the way to go. These devices use water to scare away any feline intruders that might be lurking around and looking for a snack. With just a little bit of setup, they can provide excellent protection for your feathered friends.

To get started with using motion-activated sprinklers, you’ll need to choose the right one for your needs. Look for models that have adjustable sensitivity so that you can fine-tune them to work best in your particular situation. Some sprinklers come with multiple spray patterns or ranges as well, which can help you customize their performance even further.

Once you’ve chosen the right sprinkler, it’s time to set it up. Make sure it’s placed near your bird feeder in an area where cats are likely to approach from. You may need to experiment with angles and distances until you find the perfect spot. Then adjust the sensitivity so that the slightest movement will trigger the sprinkler.

Finally, give your new system a test run by walking past it yourself and seeing how it performs. If everything looks good, sit back and enjoy watching those pesky cats getting soaked every time they try to sneak up on your bird feeder! And if anything doesn’t seem quite right, don’t hesitate to make adjustments until things are perfect.

With these tips in mind, using motion-activated sprinklers is an effective way to deter cats from bothering your backyard birds. But if you really want peace of mind when it comes to keeping felines at bay, there’s one more step you can take: installing a cat-proof bird feeder.

Installing A Cat-Proof Bird Feeder

Now that we’ve discussed using motion-activated sprinklers to keep cats away from bird feeders, let’s move on to another effective method: installing a cat-proof bird feeder.

DIY solutions can be cost-effective and personalized to fit your specific needs. For example, you could create a "cage" around your existing bird feeder by attaching wire mesh or chicken wire to wooden stakes pounded into the ground. This will prevent cats from reaching in and snatching birds while they eat. Alternatively, you could purchase a squirrel-proof bird feeder with small openings that only allow smaller birds access to the food inside.

If you’re not interested in creating your own solution, there are also plenty of buying options available. Look for bird feeders specifically designed with cat-proof features such as baffles or domes that make it difficult for cats to climb up or jump onto them. Some models even include weight-sensitive perches that close off access to the food supply when a heavier animal (like a cat) steps on them.

Remember, keeping cats away from bird feeders is important not only for the safety of our feathered friends but also for maintaining balance in our local ecosystems. While deterrents like citrus peels or coffee grounds may work temporarily, investing in long-term solutions such as motion-activated sprinklers or cat-proof bird feeders is ultimately more effective and sustainable.

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Looking ahead, we’ll explore other methods of deterring cats from our gardens and outdoor spaces including natural repellents and physical barriers.

Using Deterrents Such As Citrus Or Coffee Grounds

Like a fortress under siege, your bird feeder must be protected from the cunning tactics of feline predators. Fortunately, there are DIY deterrents that can help keep cats away without harming them. One such solution is citrus: by placing orange or lemon peels around the feeder, you create an unwelcome scent barrier for cats. Another option is coffee grounds – sprinkle them around the area to deter curious kitties.

These natural solutions work because they rely on a cat’s keen sense of smell. Cats have 200 million olfactory receptors in their noses – compared to just 5 million in humans – which means their sense of smell is incredibly powerful and highly sensitive. By using strong-smelling substances like citrus or coffee, we can overload their senses and make it uncomfortable for them to stick around.

It’s important to note that while these deterrents may work for many cats, some will inevitably become accustomed to the smells over time. For this reason, it’s best to switch up your methods every so often to keep things fresh and unpredictable. You might try alternating between different scents on a weekly basis or moving the position of the feeder entirely.

By utilizing natural deterrents like citrus and coffee grounds, you can protect your feathered friends without causing any harm to local felines. But what if one of those furry hunters happens to be your own pet? In our next section, we’ll explore how training techniques can help teach your cat not to mess with the birds.

Training Your Cat To Stay Away From The Feeder

Understanding cats’ behavior is essential when it comes to training them to stay away from the feeder. Cats can be motivated by positive reinforcement techniques such as rewards and verbal praise. It’s important to remember that cats are naturally curious, so it may take some time and patience to ensure they stay away from the feeder. With the right approach, though, you can teach your cat to stay away from the feeder for good.

Understand Cats’ Behavior

Do you find yourself struggling to keep your cats away from the bird feeder? If so, it is important to understand their behavior and how to modify it. Cat psychology plays a huge role in their actions, and by understanding their instincts, we can help them coexist with our feathered friends.

Cats are natural predators and hunters – they have an innate desire to catch small animals like birds. This instinct cannot be ignored or trained out of them entirely. However, behavioral modification techniques can be used to redirect this energy towards other activities that do not involve hunting. Providing interactive toys or playtime sessions for your cat will give them an outlet for their predatory nature without harming any wildlife.

Another aspect of cat behavior to consider is territoriality. Cats often mark their territory through scent marking and physical boundaries. Placing the bird feeder in a location where your cat does not feel threatened or provoked can help prevent unwanted interactions between your cat and the birds. Additionally, providing multiple feeding stations around your yard may deter your cat from focusing on one specific area as its own territory.

It is also important to note that punishment-based training methods should be avoided when trying to keep cats away from the bird feeder. These tactics could cause fear or anxiety in your pet and ultimately harm your relationship with them. Instead, positive reinforcement can be used to encourage good behavior such as staying away from the bird feeder.

In conclusion, understanding cat psychology and using behavioral modification techniques can greatly benefit both cats and birds alike. By redirecting their predatory instincts towards non-harmful activities and providing safe territories, we can ensure a peaceful coexistence between our furry feline companions and feathered visitors.

Positive Reinforcement Techniques

Now that we have discussed the importance of understanding cat psychology and modifying their behavior, let’s delve deeper into positive reinforcement techniques for training your cat to stay away from the bird feeder. Positive reinforcement involves rewarding good behavior instead of punishing bad behavior. This method is effective because it encourages cats to repeat desirable actions in order to receive a reward.

One way to use positive reinforcement is by offering training treats when your cat stays away from the bird feeder. These treats can be given immediately after they exhibit desired behavior or during designated training sessions. It is important to choose high-value treats that your cat enjoys and only offer them as rewards for staying away from the bird feeder.

Another technique is clicker training which involves using a clicking sound followed by a treat whenever your cat performs a desired action such as sitting or walking away from the bird feeder. This type of training helps your cat associate the clicking sound with receiving a reward, making it easier for them to understand what behaviors are expected of them.

Aside from food-based rewards, praise and physical affection can also serve as positive reinforcements. Petting and verbal encouragement can make your cat feel loved and appreciated while reinforcing good behavior at the same time.

In summary, positive reinforcement techniques such as providing training treats, clicker training, and giving praise can effectively train your cat to stay away from the bird feeder without causing fear or anxiety. By consistently rewarding good behavior, you can create a more harmonious coexistence between your furry feline friend and feathered visitors in your backyard.

Providing Alternative Food Sources For Cats

As an animal behavior expert, I understand the importance of keeping cats away from bird feeders. However, it’s important to remember that cats are natural predators and will always be attracted to birds. To keep your feathered friends safe while also providing for our feline companions, consider offering alternative food sources.

One option is to plant cat-friendly plants in your yard or garden. These include catnip, wheatgrass, and valerian root. Not only do these plants provide a tasty snack for your kitty, but they can also help deter them from approaching the bird feeder by redirecting their attention elsewhere.

Another alternative is to offer designated feeding stations for cats. This could be as simple as setting out a bowl of dry food or canned wet food in a separate area of your yard or even inside your home. By providing a specific location for feeding time, you can further discourage cats from venturing near the bird feeder.

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Lastly, consider installing birdhouses designed specifically for cats. These structures mimic natural nesting sites and provide an opportunity for your cat to observe birds without causing harm. It’s important to note that not all birdhouses are created equal – make sure to choose one with appropriate dimensions and materials so that both birds and cats can safely coexist in your backyard.

  • Plant cat-friendly plants such as catnip and wheatgrass
  • Offer designated feeding stations for cats
  • Install specially-designed birdhouses made just for cats

By implementing these methods, you can create a more harmonious environment where both birds and cats can thrive together peacefully. However, if despite these efforts you still continue to experience issues with persistent cat behavior around the bird feeder, seeking professional help may be necessary.

Seeking Professional Help For Persistent Cat Behavior Issues

While it may seem counterintuitive to provide alternative food sources for cats when trying to keep them away from bird feeders, this method can actually be quite effective. By offering cats their own designated feeding area with enticing cat food or treats, they are less likely to venture towards the bird feeder in search of a meal.

However, if providing an alternative food source does not solve the problem, seeking professional help may be necessary. Working with trainers who specialize in animal behavior can provide valuable insight and guidance on how to deter cats from unwanted behaviors such as stalking birds at a feeder.

Another option to consider is using cat repellent products around the bird feeder area. These can range from sprays that emit unpleasant scents or sounds to physical barriers such as netting or spikes. It’s important to research and choose a product that is safe for both the birds and any other animals in the vicinity.

In summary, keeping cats away from bird feeders requires creativity and diligence. Providing alternative food sources, working with trainers, and utilizing cat repellent options are all viable solutions. With patience and perseverance, it is possible to create a peaceful coexistence between birds and felines in your backyard ecosystem.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I Use A Regular Bird Feeder Or Do I Need To Purchase A Special Cat-Proof One?

If you’re looking to attract birds to your backyard, choosing the right bird feeder placement is key. It’s important to keep it away from any areas that cats may frequent, such as bushes or low-hanging tree branches. While a regular bird feeder may work just fine for attracting feathered friends, if you’re concerned about feline visitors, there are homemade cat repellents you can try. One option is mixing together equal parts white vinegar and water in a spray bottle, then misting the area around the bird feeder once a week. Another natural deterrent is planting herbs like lavender or rosemary near the feeder; cats tend to dislike their strong scents. Remember, keeping cats away from your bird feeder not only protects our feathered friends but also keeps curious kitties out of harm’s way!

How Long Does It Usually Take To Train A Cat To Stay Away From The Bird Feeder?

Training techniques and timeframes for training can vary greatly depending on the cat’s individual behavior and personality. However, with consistent effort and positive reinforcement, most cats can be trained to stay away from bird feeders within a few weeks to a couple of months. Effective training techniques include using deterrents such as motion-activated sprays or noise-making devices, providing alternative sources of entertainment for your cat, and rewarding them when they exhibit desired behaviors. As an animal behavior expert, I strongly encourage pet owners to prioritize training their cats to respect wildlife habitats and avoid harmful interactions. With patience and dedication, you can successfully teach your feline friend to peacefully coexist with backyard birds.

Will Using Citrus Or Coffee Grounds Harm The Birds Or The Environment?

When it comes to keeping cats away from bird feeders, many pet owners look for safe and effective deterrents. One popular option is using citrus or coffee grounds. While these can be successful in deterring cats due to their strong scent, there are concerns about the potential environmental impact of using them. Citrus peels can take a long time to decompose and may attract other unwanted pests, while coffee grounds can have negative effects on soil acidity levels. As an animal behavior expert, I recommend exploring alternative methods such as motion-activated sprinklers or placing the bird feeder out of reach of cats rather than relying solely on citrus or coffee grounds.

Are There Any Natural Deterrents That Can Be Used Instead Of Chemical Ones?

As an animal behavior expert, I have found that natural deterrents can be just as effective in keeping cats away from bird feeders as chemical ones. A great allegory for this is the concept of a mother protecting her child. Just like how a mother would protect their child using only natural instincts and resources around them, we too can use natural deterrents to protect our feathered friends from the curious paws of felines. Understanding cat behavior is crucial in selecting the best natural deterrent such as placing prickly plants around the feeder or using motion-activated sprinklers. These methods will not harm any animals or the environment while effectively keeping pesky predators at bay.

What Should I Do If My Neighbor’s Cat Keeps Coming Into My Yard To Access The Bird Feeder?

If your neighbor’s cat is a frequent visitor to your yard, it can be frustrating when you’re trying to attract birds to your feeder. However, before taking any action, it’s important to communicate with your neighbor about the situation and express your concerns in a respectful manner. Additionally, consider investing in a cat safe bird feeder that will prevent cats from accessing the food while still allowing birds to enjoy it. By addressing the issue through communication and prevention measures, both you and the neighborhood cat can coexist peacefully without interfering with each other’s needs.


In conclusion, keeping cats away from your bird feeder can be a challenging task that requires patience and dedication. While some may opt for special cat-proof feeders, it is possible to train feline friends to steer clear of the area with consistent reinforcement. It’s important to remember that using harsh chemicals or substances like citrus or coffee grounds can potentially harm both birds and the environment.

For those seeking natural deterrents, options such as placing prickly plants or installing motion-activated sprinklers have proven effective in deterring curious kitties. However, if you’re dealing with a persistent neighbor’s cat, it’s best to speak with them about finding a solution together.

Remember that while cats are natural predators, creating a safe space for our feathered friends is crucial in preserving their populations. By taking these steps and being mindful of potential hazards, we can create an environment where both cats and birds can thrive.

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