Keeping Cats Safe and Saving Bird Lives

Eleanor Fast

Eleanor Fast
Executive Director

I’m excited! Today Nature Canada launches a new initiative to Keep Cats Safe and Save Bird Lives catsandbirds.ca. Our aim is to reduce the number of free-roaming cats in Canada.

This initiative will bring together cat lovers across Canada – in our Nature Canada community and beyond – to protect wildlife; it highlights ways that we as nature lovers can take individual actions to protect nature in our community; and it builds on Nature Canada’s commitment to keep science and evidence at the heart of our work.

Keeping science at the forefront

I am always asking myself and our conservation team a lot of questions.  How can we have the biggest impact to protect birds and other wildlife?  What are today’s biggest threats? How can Nature Canada members help?

Cat and BirdClimate change and habitat destruction have a huge effect on bird populations, and Nature Canada is working on those issues, but there are also significant human impacts on birds such as collisions with windows and cars, and cats. In fact, cats are by far the largest cause of bird deaths – the best science estimates that of 270 million human-related bird deaths in Canada each year, cats account for about 75% – an estimated 200 million, compared with 25 million bird deaths due to window collisions.  The evidence shows that outdoor cats are exposed to a variety of threats, including disease, parasites, being run over by vehicles, and fights with wildlife. Tragically 1,300 dead cats were collected from the streets of Toronto in a single year, and 50,000 cats were euthanized in a year because homes could not be found for them.  The evidence shows the keeping cats from roaming free will lead to safer lives for cats, and save bird lives.

Taking individual actions

YOU are the key to the success of this initiative.  We need your help, and the help of individuals across Canada.  If you are a cat owner please visit catsandbirds.ca to learn more and sign the pledge to keep your cat from roaming free. And encourage your friends and neighbours to do the same.  If you’re not a cat owner you can still join the movement – sign up for email updates for tips on what you can do to keep cats safe and save bird lives in your neighbourhood.  Right now, at the launch of this three year campaign we are focused on individual actions to keep pet cats safe.  But in the coming months we will be providing information about talking to your city councilor and encouraging no free roam bylaws, and we will be addressing other issues such as feral cats.  Sign up now for updates so you don’t miss out!

A sense of community

Nature Canada is proud to be working with partners and sponsors across Canada to keep cats safe and save bird lives.  We are enormously grCat with deep blue eyesateful to PetsPlusUs, Indigo, Fuller Landau, Environment Canada, and The Crabtree Foundation for financial support, and to our media partners The Walrus and Toronto Life.  We are also grateful for the partnership of nature groups across the country who are working with us to bring the message to their local
communities.  We are just at the early stages of this project and looking for more community partners and I would love to hear from you if you would like to spearhead this in your own organization. And last but not least, a huge thanks to Margaret Atwood, one of Nature Canada’s Women for Nature and a longtime supporter, whose upcoming graphic novel Angel Catbird will draw attention to this important issue.

So, yes, I am excited! Please visit catsandbirds.ca to find out more about this project and please let me know what you think.

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