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21 February 2012

Yeah, Our Cats are Dorks – Cat Bibs


I posted this pic of the cats to my Instagram, Twitter and Facebook feeds yesterday and got loads of questions back about the dorky bibs I make them wear, which I realise I’ve never properly showed to you.


We started letting the cats outside last year when they were about six months old and it soon became apparent that between the two of them they are fabulous birders. Since, as you know, I have a bird phobia, you can imagine how much I was enjoying them bringing back tiny grey birds with their heads ripped off.  And I don’t think the birds were enjoying it very much either.

Deeply traumatised, I searched high and low online to see what could be done to stop them hunting and most websites informed me that it was an occupational hazard of cat ownership and that there was nothing I could do. 

Until I came upon – which sells thin neoprene bibs, which apparently stop cats from catching birds by slightly hindering the overarm pouncing action and disrupting the precise timing they need to catch their prey.

Since I was at the end of my tether I decided to give them a try.  And lo and behold they really do work.  Over the last six months or so I think they’ve only managed to catch one bird between them while wearing their bibs (despite still being quite successful hunters when they go out bibless). 

The bibs don’t seem to stop the cats doing anything else; they can still go in and out of the cat flap, climb trees and fences like crazy and jump prodigious heights with them on.  And after the first few goes, they didn’t seem to mind wearing them at all, napping with them, eating with them and even grooming them.  They do get a bit muddy in the Seattle rain, but, being neoprene, we just rinse them under the tap at night. I like that they make the cats more visible to traffic too, and they’re certainly good for striking up conversations with the neighbours.  All in all, they have transformed my cat-owning life and probably saved the lives of dozens of birds. I can’t recommend them highly enough.

I’m writing this post as a public service announcement to help anyone who’s having the same trouble as us with prolific bird hunting.  I would prefer it if we didn’t get into a conversation about indoor v. outdoor cats.  I know letting cats outdoors is frowned on in the US, but we live on a VERY quiet urban street and our house backs onto a bunch of well-tended gardens. They have had all their outdoor vaccines and are brought in just before sundown and not let out until sunrise. The cats ADORE being outside, they even go out in the snow, and if you saw them you’d understand that I could no more keep them in than keep Nicole Kidman off Botox.


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I LURRRRVE that you pre-empted all the annoying indoor/outdoor cat discussions! I feel like all the comments I've been getting on my writing lately are similar - share a darling nursery/let's discuss crib bumpers and SIDS in a pissed off, sarcastic rude way full of all caps...let people know that pot fillers exist and get comments from angry psychos who want to explain to me that you still have to carry the boiled pasta to the, thanks so much for putting that in four sarcastic paragraphs, person with no life...

ANYHOOOO... love the bibs, had never heard of them before, was wondering what the heck your cats were wearing...jealous that you can let your kitties roam free. Bubbs is housebound as we live in the city but I know she'd love it out there.

Haha! Now you've got me rushing off to your blog to read all these Facebook page has been known to go a little nuts on the indoor/outdoor cat question though.

And I do want to say that I FULLY UNDERSTAND people who keep their cats indoors, especially in the US. The roads here can be crazy and there are things like coyotes and bald eagles roaming free, which are not exactly an issue in the UK.

Do you know if this would work for an aggressive indoor cat? All of my cats stay inside and one of them beats up my other cats so I am considering it for him.

Sounds like a good solution but I just have one question: Why let the cats outside at all?

I've had 5 cats over the past 25 years, and none of them were ever allowed out. I had one male with a very mellow disposition who I used to occasionally "walk" on a leash. But otherwise, they all lived indoors 100% of the time, thus avoiding fights, disease, and hunting down birds, etc.

What's the upside to letting your cats outside at all?

Growing up, my family had cats that were allowed outdoors. Not only did they kill, but they every so often got fleas and even more so ended up the victim of being the inferior cat at the hands (er - paws!) of the neighborhood bully cat. Also, there's risk to several cat diseases if there's a run-in with another cat who is infected (namely FIV, Feline Leukemia, and of course, rabies).

That being said, I have to agree with funbud: what's the value of letting your cats out? My current kitty and the last one who passed away last year, never saw the out of doors. And actually, the shelter I adopted them from had it in in their contract: indoors only.

Please know it's not a judgment call, just an easy solution! Your cats can't kill, and won't be at any risk for injury (cat fight, etc), fleas/ticks, and many cat diseases!

If you believe The Oatmeal that dead birds are not gifts, they're warnings (your cat is plotting to kill you), then perhaps these bibs have actually made your cats less angry at you :)

You don't need to apologize for letting your cats out! Pa-lease! Many cats are infinitely more happy this way, and they learn how to be careful. Haters just need to step off!!

I tried cat bibs, too, about two years ago. Unfortunately, both my cats were still able to catch and kill birds. So now I take them out on a leash or they stay indoors.

By the way, cats kill over 500 million birds a year in the USA alone.

It is illegal to kill migratory birds, so why aren't there leash laws for cats?

I live in South Africa, and over here its almost unheard of to keep cats inside. I would feel horrible if I had to keep Tonka inside, he loves to laze about in the sun!I think cat bibs are a brilliant idea-I know a lady who has her two cats each wear one, and with great success. Think its time my cats get one too.

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