Australia, Pets

Quest to curtail killer cat

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OUR CAT IS A KILLER. There, I’ve confessed. My biggest fears have been realised and he’s brought home his booty like the proud killer he is.

I have taken one injured bird to the vet and another died while cushioned in a box filled with the softest shredded paper—the others, I’m afraid, were too far gone to rescue.

For years, I fought against my daughter’s pleas of owning a cat—resisted the adorable charms of kittens in pet shop windows or staring with unbearable cuteness from adopt-a-kitten websites. I was proud of my steely resolve not to succumb. All along, I knew these adorable balls of fluff eventually turned into killers.

Of course I gave in. It was surely serendipitous that I happened to be visiting my son’s friend at the very same time her cat had just had kittens?

So we acquiesced and gained ownership of a soft, adorable ginger and white part-ragdoll, part-tabby kitten. But even adorable fluff balls eventually succumb to their instincts.

A few months later, he was a fine-tuned killing machine as predicted. After cornering a squirrel glider outside my bedroom window one night, I resolved Dexter would have a night-time curfew, no matter how loudly he yowled for freedom. The glider was thankfully untouched and fled but I couldn’t bear the thought of future wanton killing sprees in the dead of night.

Dexter was curbed at night-time but had free reign during the day. And that’s when he went hunting. Apart from being traumatised every time he brought home his catch, I also felt incredibly guilty. If our cat was killing a few birds a week, how many more fell victim to neighbourhood cats allowed to prowl the bush at night? There was surely cat carnage out there.

So I took matters into my own hands and Googled “how to stop my cat from eating birds”. I was instantly rewarded with a number of solutions—none of them terribly convincing.

One cat lover suggested cats need to snack at intervals during the day and would only kill wildlife if ravenously hungry. Well, I beg to differ, given that our cat is rather well covered with a rampant appetite. He has been known to rip open bags of dog food after mealtime and heartily tuck in so I can pretty well count out hunger as an excuse for hunting.

Most other advice involved attaching a bell to his collar. Been there done that. Short of acquiring a cow bell, this was not a viable solution. It had not curbed his killing one bit.

Finally, I came across a site selling a device that fitted around the neck like a collar. Endorsed by a well-known Australian entertainer, it was designed to emit a shrill sound intolerable to birds. Cats could merrily stalk their prey, but the imperceptible sound would alert birds who could take flight without being caught. Desperate for a quick solution, I ordered immediately.

Minutes after my purchase, however, I had buyer’s regret. My husband informed me my revolutionary device was, in fact, a dud. And if the testimonies by other hapless buyers were to be believed, this was not exactly a winner.

Instead, a fool-proof cat bib was recommended. I watched comical footage of cats with the ungainly, colourful bibs dangling from their necks—apart from looking absurd, the bibs really did appear to do the trick. You try springing with feline agility while a large, floor-to- neck bib trips you up. I have ordered one of those too, so in a few days’ time, dear, fluffy, adorable killer Dexter, you are in for a treat.

I reckon the only killing you’ll be doing is that bag of dog food that lies stealthily hidden in the garage…

Sequel: Killer cat curtailed by CatBib

© 2011 Lois Nicholls

Filed under: Australia, Pets


Lois Nicholls is an Australian freelance journalist. She is also the author of "Aussie, Actually," which captures her heartfelt experiences as a South African migrant living in Australia. Her second book, "Bye-bye Bikini", published in August 2018, is a series of frank and humorous essays navigating everyday life from the perspective of a fifty-something former newspaper and magazine journalist. Her first children's book, "What Dog is That?" available in hardcopy from was published in May 2019. Her books on Amazon: