Allied Cats is a program aimed at generating a network of cats that lead healthy, safe, and happy lives indoors, or with controlled outdoor access (e.g., via a catio or on a leash under the watchful eye of their human). These cats along with their humans are helping to protect millions of birds and other wildlife that are otherwise injured or killed in Canada each year by free-roaming cats . Click here for the Allied Cats brochure. (French is available here)
Indoor cats that have controlled or accompanied access outdoors live longer than cats that go outside. They don't run the same risks as outdoor cats of being injured or killed by vehicles, wildlife, other cats, or people, or succumbing to cold, disease, parasites, or poisons. Unneutered cats kept indoors don't contribute to the overpopulatoin of stray and feral cats. In Canada, Environment and Climate Change Canada research has determined that outdoor cats kill 100 million birds each year. Allied Cats protect our community burds and other wildlife that are vulnerable to predation by cats.
Become a member of Allied Cats by filling out this form and you will receive a personalized certificate documenting your commitment as well as a window decal for your front door identifying that you have an Allied Cat in your home. By becoming an Allied Cat your cat is joining a growing network of cats across Nova Scotia that are ensuring their own safety as well as the safety of birds and other wildlife in their neighbourhood.
As a responsible cat owner, spay or neuter your cat to help avoid unwanted or mistreated animals that are often abandoned. If you keep your kitten indoors from the start they will not usually show interest in the outdoors as adults. Your cat can be a happy and healthy indoor cat with time and patients. For ideas about transitioning and keeping an indoor cat happy, download our brochure Environmental Enrichment brochure (coming soon). Some tips to keep your cat happy include:
Consider installing a catio! Catios are enclosures for cats to use so they can enjoy the outdoors while ensuring their own safety as well as the safety of birds and other wildlife. Catio Spaces and Habitat Haven are wonderful resources for catios!
Install perches near windows so your cat can view the outdoors (download do-it-yourself instructions for constructing a window ledge)
Cat trees and scratching posts will help your cat to exercise and provide a place for your cat to lounge and deposit scent.
Plant cat grass in a box to help your cat enjoy the outdoors from inside
Clean litter boxes regularly, ensure it is large enough, and provide a minimum of one per cat
For more ideas, download these PDFs from Nature Canada (French documents are available via the link in parentheses):
- Tips for transitioning a cat indoors (French)
- Tips for a safe and happy cat (French)
- Dealing with an escape artist (French)
- Cat spray solutions (French)
The Ecology Action Centre's Bird Conservation Committee, formed in 2007, works closely with a number of community partners to help preserve Nova Scotia's resident and migrating bird species. Partnering with Bird Studies Canada, Nova Scotia Bird Society, Cobequid Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre, and Nature Nova Scotia, and Nature Canada, Allied Cats project aims to address the joint issue of declining bird species and cat welfare through education and community outreach.
- For media interviews or to arrange a presentation on the issue of cats and birds, contact Helene Van Doninck via Email
- Visit us on Facebook
Building a network of indoor cats to protect cats and birds
Birds play an important role in Canadian ecosystems. We rely on them as an indicator species to tell us about the state of our environment. They control insect and rodent populations, and help distribute seeds. Birds are enjoyed by many Canadians, particularly gardeners, bird-watchers, and naturalists. Bird watching is one of the most popular outdoor recreational activities in Canada.
Recent research suggests that 44% of Canadian bird species are declining; including one-third of the species found in the Maritimes. Habitat loss, pollution, and climate change all negatively affect our bird populations, but scientists believe that outdoor cats are one of the top contributors to this problem. It is estimated that Canada’s 8.5 million outdoor cats hunt and kill 100 million birds each year. This includes many of our community birds like shorebirds, robins, blue jays, hummingbirds, raptors, and countless others.
Birds’ most effective strategy for protecting themselves is to fly away, but domestic cats are extraordinarily effective hunters. They do not hunt out of malicious intent, or even because they are hungry – they hunt out of instinct that dates back 9000 years to when they were wild. Unfortunately, most bird species are defenseless against cats. Domestic cats are not native to most areas, and are newcomers to many continents – including our own. Birds simply haven’t had the time to develop defences. While nesting, feeding, and resting in our backyards, community parks, and in the wild, our birds are vulnerable to cats.
How can Nova Scotians help to protect our more than 400 bird species? With all the stressors on bird populations, keeping cats indoors is one of the easiest and most effective ways to help make a difference. Allowing our cats to be indoor cats is a win-win situation: Cats are able to live safer and longer lives, while our community birds are able to flourish.
North American Bird Conservation Initiative Canada. 2012. The State of Canada’s Birds, 2012. Environment Canada, Ottawa, Canada. 36 pages.