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 over-population of stray and feral cats. In Canada, Environment and Climate Change Canada research has determined that outdoor cats kill more than100 million birds each year. Allied Cats protect our community birds and other wildlife that are vulnerable to predation by cats.
Building a network of indoor cats to protect cats and birds
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 have identified that outdoor cats are one of the top contributors to this problem. It is estimated that Canada’s 9.3 million outdoor cats hunt and kill 100 -350 million birds each year. This includes many of our community birds like shorebirds, robins, blue jays, hummingbirds, raptors, and countless others.
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.
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 defenses. 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.
Join the Allied Cats Network
Become a member of Allied Cats by filling out this form.
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. Allied Cats project aims to address the joint issue of declining bird species and cat welfare through education and community outreach.
The Ecology Action Centre has been involved in many bird conservation projects in the past. Learn about our Bird Conservation Committee and past projects here.