Why raised Birdbaths are better!

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In this post I am going to touch on a contentious topic for some people and as I am completely not wishing to offend anybody here is a little warning to cat lovers and owners out there; basically I think cats are completely inappropriate pets in Australia because of the destruction they cause to our native wildlife… there! That said lets look at some pretty pictures of native birds in a beautiful suburban habitat garden!

In the image below you can see a pair of musk lorikeets drinking and bathing in a Mallee Dish raised 500mm off the ground.

If you are like me and have roaming domestic cats coming into your garden during the day and night to hunt and have territorial fights, it is best to raise your birdbath out of the reach of cats. This ensures that they don’t leave their scent in the water and keep the beautiful native birds away. Birds are very sensitive to predators and will shy away from an area of the garden that they feel may be unsafe.

In the image above you can see a domestic cat drinking from a dish at night, you may not be aware of night feline visitors, according to the article below if cat owners kept their cats inside at night it would reduce their killing rate by 50%.

Natural born killers: the problem with cats

The image below was taken in my back garden which at the moment is a building site, but I am still getting bird visitors to my birdbaths that are raised off the ground or hanging from trees. Can you spot the night predator in the background? it is one of 4 different domestic cats that come into my garden …. and naturally makes me furious!

Cats should also wear a collar with a bell, or, even better, a sonar beeper that produces high-pitched tones, which doesn’t bother cats, but alerts birds to their presence. Neutering stops cats procreating and makes them less likely to roam and hunt.

There is also a product called a cat bib which has shown to be quite successful in the reduction of kills a cat can make whist wearing it.

To break up this depressing topic please see a beautiful Satin bower having a drink and his female friend below 🙂

I have seen feral cats in the desert and found them utterly revolting and frightening, I realise that domestic cats are on a different level to feral cats however we all live in this beautiful country together:

the Australian Wildlife Conservancy (AWC), which runs private conservation reserves across the nation, released a report in December which estimated the impact of the 5-18 million feral cats on native species such as bilbies and numbats.

Each cat takes 5-30 animals a night, says the AWC, so (using a conservative population estimate of 15 million) they conclude that a minimum of 75 million native animals are killed daily. In a country struggling to conserve its unique fauna, the scale of this figure should not be underestimated.

So if you are trying to create a habitat or bird attracting garden where cats are present it is best to raise water out of reach from cats, plant plenty of dense prickly shrubs for birds to hide in and talk to your neighbourhood cat owners about putting in place some precautions to limit hunting in your neighbourhood. Good Luck!


43 responses to “Why raised Birdbaths are better!”

  1. Greg McPherson

    It is indeed very odd that most cat owners will not take steps to lessen the cats destructive impact. I’m not convinced it’s denial. Cat owners know their cats are killing indiscriminately. It’s almost as if many people, at a sunconscious level, oddly revere the cats actions?

    1. Kath Gadd

      I think the cat owners feel it would be cruel to their beloved pets to restrain their natural hunting instinct.

      1. Bronwyn

        I have a very intelligent and thoughtful friend who believes constraining her cat would be cruel. But killing our native birds is cruel. I don’t get it.

    2. ann moore

      We should also be looking at the number of animals killed/maimed by dogs.

      I think the AWC is kidding itself if it thinks that a cat will kill up to 30 animals every night. They kill to eat unlike dogs that will will chase and kill/maim anything that moves. And yes you should not have a cat unless you are prepared to keep it inside each night and have it desexed. We also need stronger pound laws that permit us to bring in stray cats for re-homing or being put down.
      So instead of making “its everybody else’s fault but luckily I am perfect’ comments lobby your local councils so that you can bring stray cats in. We have two male undesexed cats that come around most nights so we are going to have to trap them and them kill them as the pound will not take them even to put them down.

      1. Kath Gadd

        Hi Ann,

        Yes, I agree we should also be aware of dogs as predators, however the number of feral cats compared to dogs in Australia is incomparable.
        Stray cats and feral cats kill to eat, pet cats let out at night or day to “roam” kill more for entertainment, I can’t count the number of times I have witnessed a domestic cat pouncing and “playing’ with a small bird or lizard and killing it just to leave it for their owner to find as some treasured offering.
        There are also laws and regulations enforced to keep domestic dogs inside the owners property, therefore greatly reducing their ability to chase and kill native wildlife.
        I would personally like to see domestic cats have the same rules applied to them, to be kept inside or in a cat run or even on a leash outside, it doesn’t make any sense to allow them to have the freedom to wander into bushland or other peoples properties and do as they please. In fact Randwick Council in Sydney is trialling an indoor/on leash cat only policy this year, due to public lobbying, hopefully it is a success and we will see other councils adopting the same strategy.

        Best Wishes,


        1. Jennifer

          Congratulations Kath on you advocacy of this issue. I agree cats should not be allowed to roam freely. Nor chickens. Total pests to gardeners and birds.

          I admire stance and appreciate your posts, very helpful, thank you

        2. Susie Allan

          My cats are so we’ll fed they would not consider using all that effort to hunt. They would not be able to catch a bird if they tried. I think we should be more concerned with the road kill of native animals by vehicles on our roads. Also people using snail & rat baits. As for cats killing 30 animals a day that’s just ridiculous. Even feral cats would be hard pressed to achieve 2-3 kills a day & as we know cats can sleep up to 22 hrs a day. Doesn’t leave much time!!

          1. Joanna

            I find that to be a very ill-informed statement Susie and would encourage you to read up on the research relating to wildlife being killed by cats (domestic and feral). A cat’s instinct is to hunt. Domestic cats have been proven to kill or catch purely from an instinct honed over centuries of breeding. A cat owner is the responsible person in this scenario. If cat owners will not instigated a sunset to sunrise ban to protect roosting birds then the only way to restrict indiscriminate killing is to house cats in cages. Large cages that give them a plenty of room and also to have time in the sun (which they love). It is an indictment on cat owners that so much wildlife is being killed by animals that are not killing because of hunger.

    3. Andrea

      My son has a cat and she has a cat run and not allowed outside unless in there. Most people are just too lazy to have a cat litter box. Cats are constantly in my garden go after birds around my raised birdbath, which they knock over. And they wear bells. All cats should not be allowed outside.

  2. Katie

    I have too gorgeous cuddly cats who remain inside and have a small run outside. I have a neighbour with two cats who has said to me before that her cat doesn’t hunt. I think its really common in the city or suburbs especially that people genuinely have no understanding of the damage their cats are doing, they are happy to exist in their little bubble. Its terribly sad.

  3. Kathleen

    Never let my cat out side. I think all cats should be restricted inside or in caged runs. And there should be programm for wild cat radiation.

  4. Bronwyn

    I cannot understand why people let their cats roam. They surely must know the damage they cause. Our cat is mainly indoors, only goes outside supervised and has never been allowed off the property. Our next door neighbour has three cats but built them a cat run and never allows them to roam outdoors. Meantime, a large local tomcat harasses our much smaller cat and stalks our bantams. If I knew who owned it I’d talk to them but I doubt it would make much difference. I think it’s time Councils introduced a cat curfew and fined owners who breach it.

  5. Lucy Wiasak

    We have two cats and they are indoor cats. When outdoors they are under supervision and on harnesses. I love the native birds around us and we even hand feed magpies. Why would I put them at risk. It is criminal that people let their cats roam free.

  6. Susan Barnes

    Re. “Radiation” of wild cats? Are we going to nuke them or give them CAT scans. Just curious. Or should we put that suggestion down to spellcheck?

    1. Kath Gadd

      Hi Susan,

      My guess is that comment from Kathleen should say eradication not “radiation”, and I believe there are some Sydney councils who are moving towards a policy for wild cat eradication which can only be a good thing.



  7. Carolyn

    Visiting friends for three weeks who own three cats, I retrieved lizards and crickets every day from their jaws. I was appalled at the amount of killing these cats did daily and do think they are totally at odds with Australian wildlife.

  8. Avalon Connor

    I have a lovely female Birman cat called Bella. She is six now and never goes outside. She has all sorts of toys to play with and she romps around happily. I love birds and I agree with bird lovers that birds and cats should not meet. I am also a bird lover.

  9. I think everything mentioned is correct but was hoping to read more about the native garden which is why I clicked to read.

  10. Jake

    I do think SOME cat owners are in denial to some degree and also, dare I say it, a bit complacent when it comes to restraining their cat outdoors. There are many levels of awareness in the community, and also many levels of attachment that cat owners have to their cat. Maybe it comes down to how one emotionally connects with their cat versus how one emotionally connects to native wildlife.

    1. Kath Gadd

      Hi Jake,

      Yes, I agree. For most people who keep domestic cats their level of awareness of how the native wildlife is affected by them is hampered by their love of their cute fluffy pet.

  11. Sarah

    Great article. Love the night shots of those naughty cats caught red handed! I don’t think they should be allowed out at night at all. As a responsible cat owner there is no need. But they out everywhere where I live and also often getting run over on the busy road.

    1. Kath Gadd

      Oh well, that is the risk the owners are happy to take, night hunting vs being run over…I hate to say it but maybe Karma plays a part 😉

  12. Sophie

    I totally agree that cats need to be controlled to protect out native birds, and also other creatures like lizards. In addition to the raised bird bath, I like to also keep a water dish on the ground for our skinks. Fortunately our shire has a night curfew for cats.

  13. Kane

    I’ve volunteered in animal welfare with a particular focus on cats for over a decade and think this debate about cats has very little factual basis on both ends of the love/hate cat spectrum.
    To start with not all cats are killers of wild life or vermin etc and not encouraging a cat to hunt is not cruel. Cats, like most domesticated animals are quite content not to hunt and can be easily trained not to. Keeping them indoors with access to an attached enclosed outdoor run is more than sufficient for a cat to be very happy. In saying that introducing a cat to the outdoors and proactively training the cat not to pursue wildlife is easy, effective and allows the cat to hang in the garden with you when you’re out there. My two love accompanying me in the garden and the key to having outdoor non-killing cast is you introduce them to the outdoors by being with them the whole time and you train them not to pursue wildlife (aka teach them impulse control). You do not leave them unsupervised outdoors until you have instilled a habit of leaving ile life alone. My neighbour feeds corellas, magpies, rosellas, pigeons, etc with her cat ly*ng next to her, everyday and no issue. Just like my cats.
    As far as the estimates of how many animals are killed by cats per night this is pure politics of purity hysteria. Cats have been feral in Australia since 3 weeks after the arrival of the first fleet in January 1788, 230 years ago…they’re endogenised into the environment just like dingos that were introduced a few millinea before cats. Anyone who believes the numbers and the overinflated claims of devastation need to take a deep breath and reflect on how feral cats are part the diet of dingos and where there are dingos, feral cats and foxes are controlled. Environmental scientists who have an anti cat disposition “predicting” cat numbers and their impact are wrong and need to stop scapegoating cats for the massive environmental devastation that HUMANS are causing wth ou sprawling suburbs, land clearing and mining and evite their efforts to teaching the public how to manage their cats responsibly from a perspective of positive reinforcement rather than fabricated over exaggerated cla8ms of mass8ve cat crises. So frustrating to hear their hysteria echoed by people who have even less of a clue like it’s a religious dogma.

  14. Bronwyn Body

    Wow! You sure did open up a Cat debate.
    I have never l liked Cats. We live on a farm and have a Cat for one thing only! Vermin maintenance, not that we really have had any thus far, but as we are introducing animals and there fore feed, we can expect they’ll come. Also we had 12 Brown Snakes here last year. With the introduction of stored hay, grain and various feeds they too will continue to come close to the house, where we are, our children are and our beloved Dogs are and I for one am not willing to protect the eco system with them at all. The Cat has been hired for a job, to kill kill kill. If some birds go along the way well so be it. They are in massive numbers around here and its a numbers game. Even the government will look at numbers.

    1. Kath Gadd

      Hi Bronwyn,

      Yes, I love a good debate 😉 great to see lots of different points of view. I went to a talk by AB Bishop the other week on Habitat Gardening and she had some statistics about the amount of nocturnal wildlife killed by cats, it is much larger than during the day. Therefore, her message is its not just birdlife that is lost, its also our small marsupials, reptiles and frogs …. http://theconversation.com/feral-feast-cats-kill-hundreds-of-australian-animals-35555

  15. Paul

    Get a dog. Birds don’t seem to mind my old dog, keeps cats away as well . Cats also hate smells they don’t like….I put coffee grinds all over my garden, they hate it.
    If I ever saw a cat in my garden I would tell the owner to lock it up, because it is illegal in some places to let cats out at night.

  16. Sofia

    Totally agree about the disastrous impact of cats hunting. Can’t understand cat owners who let their pets roam, feeling it’s their right to inflict their choice of pet ownership and beliefs about their impact on others. Surely those who don’t want other peoples’ cats roaming in their yards have rights over that piece of land they purchased or rented at minimum. If a cat is your choice, then surely it is your responsibility, not anyone else’s.

  17. Noela Lord

    Pls advise cost of the Mini copper bird bath with a stand.

    Thanking you,

    Noela Lord

    1. Kath Gadd

      Hi Noela,

      All our prices are on our Shopify website,


      Best Wishes,


  18. A bear

    I vouch for cat bib- worked like a switch. I’ m a cat lover but keep them in at night! And when outside, wear catbib. I also think you should be registered to own a cat, and all cats spade unless owner licensed. Don’t make the mistake in thinking that all people care about wildlife.

  19. Charlie

    If anyone is trying to find resources to help bring cats indoors – or help convince neighbours, family or friends to do so – the Zoos Vic/RSPCA Victoria’s “safe cat, safe wildlife” website has lots of tips, tricks and stories.

  20. Elizabeth Algie

    You have just lost any business I may have done with you. I was looking for inspiration for bird baths, not to read your diatribe on cats as pets. Keep on topic and you might do better.

    1. Kath Gadd

      Hi Elizabeth,

      Thanks for your thoughts and feedback.
      The internet is an open platform for sharing ideas and having robust discussion and this blog post has certainly inspired some interesting comments 😉
      I am a bird and nature lover and as this is my blog and website I feel I should be able to express my opinions accordingly. The majority of my clients and customers are also nature lovers and conservationists and the threat that cats pose to our local birdlife is very real and we are concerned about it.
      I apologise if you feel offended or threatened by the content of this post and regret that it has turned you away from purchasing a birdbath for the native birds.
      I feel very lucky to be able to run a small local business which is in line with my ethical values, and it has so far been very successful, so no need for your concern about it needing to do better.

      Best Wishes,


  21. Arthur

    The bird baths appear too close to ground level with grass and weeds as high as the bath.
    If people insist on keeping cats, raising the bath well clear of the ground and above cats easy access height helps. We had a cat decades ago, it killed two birds in our garden less than an hour apart. Shot cat, painless death. Now we have masses of native birds of many species.
    One or the other, you can`t blame the cat : just people who fail to recognise the inherent nature of felines.

    1. Kath Gadd

      Hi Arthur,
      Yes, you are right in order for the birdbaths to be safe from the reach of cats they need to be on a 1m meter high stand, glad to hear you sorted out your cat problems 😉

      Best Wishes,


  22. Mike

    We have 2 cats that stay inside and a beautiful native garden full of every type of visitor. I have no problem using my possum trap to dispatch wondering cats. That’s it, no excuse.

  23. Lisa

    I am a ethical Ragdoll Cat breeder and a wildlife lover. I don’t adopt to anyone who lets cats outside. In my contracts. Unless they have a safe enclosure. All my kittens are desexed before they are adopted. I believe all cats should be indoors to keep them and our wildlife safe. They don’t need to hunt if you provide play time and a stimulating environment. They shouldn’t be out in other peoples yards etc. Please be responsible for the care and safety of your cats and our beautiful wildlife.

  24. John Ulrichsen

    A lot of cat owners say their cat has a bell. The cat carrying one of the local Eastern Rosellas (dead, natch) in broad daylight across a lawn had a bell, totally ineffective. Mind you a bell of 4kg or more might work, especially near water!


  25. Janet Lieber

    A cat is a feral predator. Sorry for all the Cat lovers but there is no disputing this fact. A cat can and will defy all restrictions. They will escape regardless of the care taken to restrain them. Their nature is to hunt.
    I have lots of birds in my garden. When the small honeyeaters and wrens disappear from my garden I know a cat is on the prowl.
    I don’t have a cat.
    I really resent hearing a cat fight in my garden around midnight or in the couple of hours after. I cannot sleep after that for hours.
    Dogs are much better pets. Fish can be fun. Cats should be relegated to picture books.


  26. I used to have cats and they were never off our property. If you net your yard or use a pvc pipe cut in half on all your fences they can’t get out of your yard. It’s time people were responsible with their pets, be they cats or dogs.

  27. Claire

    We have a cat trap set on our semi rural property permanently. If a cat is trapped then it is dispatched (humanely) be it feral or domesticated. If owners let their pets roam then I feel an obligation to protect our local wildlife.

  28. Pamela

    Debates like these sadly tend to bring out more in the way of uneducated sentiment than actual facts or educated opinions. Both cats and dogs have a certain impact on the environment. Both pets and wildlife may see some benefit if pets spend minimal time outdoors. Cat-hating has been a socially accepted sport since at least the witch hunts of the 14th century and also has notable ties to misogyny, which is a good part of why it continues to be socially acceptable. It has sadly led to a whole lot of blinkered focus on one animal’s negative impact while ignoring nature’s inherent complexity, other threats and the big-picture context where human activity tends to be the leading cause of environmental damage and species extinctions in almost all situations. Here’s an interesting study comparing the impact of domestic cats and dogs on wildlife in Australia: https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fvets.2021.731689/full
    The methodology for collecting statistics is less than highly accurate, but it points to a need for further research and hopefully by someone without bias or preconceptions, because it shows that domestic cats and dogs who predate on small animals are not killing animals in large numbers, are killing animals at a similar rate to each other, dogs kill a greater number of native birds as a percentage of the animals they kill and the majority of a cat’s kills are actually mice, rats and rabbits, which is all in defiance of current popular beliefs. Perhaps Mallee Design should also post an article about the negative impact of pet dogs on native birds, but sadly the research is currently extremely limited.

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