Image by: Ugrashak, Own work - CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=77595396
If you let your cat outside to wander around your property (or someone else's) then you are part of a really big problem and need to stop right now. If you feed the birds and allow your cat outdoors, you are providing the perfect drive-through meal for those wandering felines and you should feel pretty bad about yourself right now.
These stats aren't news, but obviously bear repeating. Domestic cats are the number one threat to birds, which means you can eliminate wind turbines, car strikes, migration, natural disasters and starvation from that top spot. Cats win hands down because they kill billions (that's billions with a "b") of birds every year in the United States alone and billions of small mammals as well.
Cats are awesome, and we love them, but they belong indoors. Period. There is no excuse for allowing them to hunt our native wildlife. None. If you're tired of cleaning that smelly litter box, then surrender them to someone who doesn't mind the chore. Don't use the argument that you allow them to roam outdoors and needlessly kill everything they can get their claws into because they are just "following their instincts and doing what comes naturally" or "they are doing it to show they love me," because that is absolute rubbish. Responsible cat ownership does not include allowing your cat free rein because you think they must hunt, it includes neutering and spaying them and keeping them safe INDOORS. Raise your hand if you or someone you know has lost an outdoor cat to a wild animal. So here is your chance to show your cat that you really do care that they remain alive and aren't a coyote's breakfast, and in exchange you will be keeping our wildlife out of their deadly clutches. If you feel you can't do this, then please don't own a cat.
Now that you guilty cat owners feel absolutely horrible about what you've done, you're obviously going to pledge to keep our birds (and your cats) safe. You may be wondering what you can do to make up for all of those years of allowing your cat to kill innocent, often endangered, birds. It's not too late to make amends - to right those wrongs.
Here are a few simple things you can do to help birds now and always:
1) Provide fresh water for drinking and bathing, especially during the hottest months.
2) Stop using pesticides.
3) Keep trees and shrubs on your property for nesting, feeding and protection.
4) Grow native plants for insect-eating birds and remove invasive or non-native species.
5) Turn lights off at night during spring and fall migration (this helps bats too!).
6) Feed your region's year-round birds during the winter when food is scarce.
7) Join the Audubon Society and support bird conservation.
8) Purchase a pair of binoculars and learn about birds in your area. It's a healthy, lifelong hobby that can carry you into retirement. You can even participate in annual bird counts to become even more immersed in the birding experience. And finally...
9) KEEP YOUR CATS INDOORS! Obviously...
State and federal protection for birds and other wildlife is disappearing at an alarming rate, so we need to work together to offset this loss of government support and be part of the solution, not part of the problem. So keep those cats indoors and be a hero, or let them out and be an accessory to billions of needless deaths. If that doesn't give you pause, nothing will.