I have worked diligently to train my cat to not catch birds, and it has ultimately paid off. However, while enjoying a warm summer day on the patio recently, out of the corner of my eye I noticed a bird swoop down at my old orange tabby, who was sunning herself and minding her own business. At first I thought it was funny, until the old kitty decided she’d pursue the bird that had picked a fight. Looking back to when Peach was six months old, I remember being horrified when she caught her first little brown nuthatch. I instantly saw the impact this furry orange bundle of joy was going to have on the birds in my backyard. I scolded her, and the next time she caught a bird I was equally as strict, and a bit less forgiving. When Peach caught her first mouse I praised her unendingly, saying “Good kitty - get the mouse,” and with that she took on the persona of mouser superhero and promptly learned that “getting the mouse” had far more rewarding benefits than catching a bird. According to Peter Marra of the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute, in Washington, D.C., American house cats that venture outdoors, along with feral cats, kill between 1.4 billion and 3.7 billion birds in a year. http://www.sciencenews.org/view/generic/id/347928/description/Cats_kill_more_than_one_billion_birds_each_year Many people don’t realize the damage that can occur to native bird populations from the nonnative cat populations so here are five tips I’ve found that can help cats and birds live peacefully in my backyard garden: 1. Do not praise a cat that captures a bird. Train him when he is little, or any time, for that matter, that it is NOT okay to kill birds. I used a loud, firm tone to scold and startle my kitty. 2. Use collar bells on your cat’s breakaway collar to warn birds of her approach. 3. Keep your cat indoors permanently, or as I have done, do not let him out early in the morning or in the evening without supervision, since this is when birdies are most active, at their peak feeding times. 4. Keep cats’ claws trimmed to make it more difficult for them to climb trees or catch wild birds. 5. Take time to play with your cat, providing her with “indoor” toys. An exercised, contented cat will be less likely to go into a wild frenzy on backyard birds.