Keeping Cats Out of Birdbaths

DIY Ground Birdbath
DIY Ground Birdbaths

I have several birdbaths in my yard year-round. Most are right on the ground or very close to the ground. While birds seem to love these low and ground birdbaths, neighborhood cats see them as an opportunity to hunt. To keep cats out of the birdbaths, I set up a simple “all natural” birdbath defense. It is working very well.

"Orange" cat stalking a squirrel in the brush pile.
“Orange” cat stalking a squirrel in the brush pile.

Neighborhood Cats Drawn To The Yard

Our neighborhood has a horde of cats. Some are most definitely either feral or are never brought inside by their people. Others are house cats that roam the neighborhood during the day. They all find our yard infinitely appealing and interesting because so many birds visit the feeders and birdbaths.

Interestingly, the cats that are currently the most aggressive hunters in the yard are the cats that I’m pretty sure are well-fed house cats and not feral. They probably eat some of the birds they catch and carry some of them home to present to their people. Sigh.

Keeping Cats Away From Feeders

I can’t practically do a lot about keeping cats completely out of the yard. So I try to at least keep them away from the feeders and birdbaths as much as possible.

For feeders, one strategy is to place feeders either up on poles or hanging from trees out of the reach of cats. (Sometimes the cats just sit under the feeders looking longingly up.) A summer strategy is a Yard Enforcer sprinkler that keeps both groundhogs and cats out of a garden in the middle of my back yard. And yet another is to try to place feeders away from spots where cats can hide.

Cat Chasing

And yes, even with all this, I still spend time every day chasing various cats away. I imagine the neighbors have probably decided that the nutty woman they hear loudly and repeatedly saying, “Go Home! Go Home! Keep Moving! Keep Moving!” every day ought to be locked up. Sigh.

"Harry" cat in the back yard.
“Harry” feral cat in the back yard.

For the record, I do like cats. Our four indoor cats were born to a feral cat in our garage. We got momma cat fixed, gave two kittens away and kept four. When another feral had a wound on his leg that wouldn’t heal, we took him to the vet. And one of our previous cats was also a feral kitten. I wish people would keep their cats inside but they don’t, so that is reality.

Cats Hunting At The Birdbath

One strategy cats try is to sit right next to a birdbath. They count on inattentive birds who might fly quickly to the water without scouting it out first. This feline behavior drove me nutty because I didn’t want to draw in birds to what amounts to a cat trap.

A pine cone defense around one of the bird baths.
A pine cone defense around one of the bird baths.

Pine Cones Protect Birdbaths From Cats

My solution has been pine cones. We have a couple very large pine trees that yield a good crop of very prickery ones. I gathered several buckets of them and scattered them around the birdbaths. This creates a buffer zone of about a foot around each. The cats can no longer sit right next to the water waiting for birds to come to them.

I originally wondered if they would just sit a bit further away, but the pine cone buffer seems to have done the trick. Cats sitting there are now more exposed. Even if a bird did come to the water, the cat would have to walk or jump through the pine cones to get to the bird, something not comfortable to a cat’s paws. So they’ve stopped.

There are still cats in the yard every day, but at least they aren’t lurking right at the water source, so I feel that I may actually have won this part of the battle. We’ll see what they try next . . .

A pine cone defense around one of the bird baths.
A pine cone defense around one of the bird baths.

More Posts About Birdbaths

Does Your Hose Provide Clean Water For Your Birdbath?

Prepping Birdbaths For Winter

Improvised DIY Heated Birdbaths

Make Your Own Birdbath

My Newest Birdbath Has Something To Hide!

My Favorite Birdbath: Studio-M’s Birdbath Artpole


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3 thoughts on “Keeping Cats Out of Birdbaths

  1. Thank you for posting this great idea! I have 4 cats outside, feral cats who have been neutered. They live here, and so do the birds. I have feeders on poles, but didn’t know what to do with the bird bath/water. I have pine trees with plenty of cones! Brilliant! I’m going to try it!
    I love cats AND birds. Now, maybe the birds will be safe! Thank you!

    1. Hi Jane, It’s definitely something worth trying and it’s nice that it doesn’t cost anything either. Our yard is full of bird feeders and bird baths and so we have lots and lots of birds. That seems to mean that every outdoor cat in the area, whether feral or a neighbor’s cat, loves to hang out in our yard which drives me a little crazy at times. (We have four indoor cats, so I do like cats too!) The pine cones really helps in our yard. There was one particular cat that found some way to move pine cones out of the way so he could settle next to the bird bath a few times. I added more cones to the area to add more challenge and that solved it. Good luck! Nancie

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