Cat Bells: Early Warning System for Birds

When we brought our first kitty, Skooter, home, we decided immediately to get him a collar with a name tag. We have done this with every cat since, even those not allowed outside unattended and those who are microchipped. With cats, like Fiona and Astrid, who are so adept at escaping, a name tage is a necessity.


Tuxedo cat hiding in the grass to stalk birds.


Ginger tabby cat with bird in its mouth.

MacKenzie with bird.

Almost all kitty collars come with bells as an early warning system to birds of an impending attack. Unfortunately for a few birds from our yard, MacKenzie was and Misty May is a stealth cat, both practiced at moving swiftly but noiselessly through the grass. The number of birds lost does not come close to either the number of cats we have had or the years we have had cats.

Baby Bird Rescue

We have managed to save a few as was the case with a baby bird Daphne brought into the house. It was concealed totally in her mouth except for a few feathers. I thought she had been in someone’s garbage and so was chasing her throughout the house demanding she open her mouth. I should have become suspicious about her contraband when the other felines began to gather around her. When she finally opened her mouth, however, I was shocked to see an intact baby bird fly out.

This led to the creation of another Don’t. Don’t ever allow your cat into the house with a foreign object in her mouth unless you’re prepared to intercept the live baby bird that flies out.

Nest full of baby birds with mouths open waiting to be fed.

Keeping the onlookers at bay was my next challenge followed closely by trying to catch the bird and return it to the yard. Fortunately, the bird was a baby that its mom had pushed from the nest for its inaugural flying lesson. It could fly short distances only and just a few inches from the floor. When I finally caught and put it outside, I was forced to keep the whiney predators in the house for the remainder of the day.

Nesting Birds

Nest with mother Robin and baby bird.

Robin mother and baby in carport nest.

Unless we are painting or in the midst of some form of construction, we have at least one bird nest in our carport every year. These nests are completely inaccessible to even the most devious cats but the comings and goings of the birds provide hours of entertainment for both homeowners and cats. But, as usual, I digress…

Cat Bells: Early Warning System for Humans

The bells are really an early warning system for the humans. I hate having a cat sneak up and pounce on me when I’m awake. It is bad enough when I am asleep. I can recognize each individual cat by the sound their bell makes when they are on the move. I know exactly which of the Kitties Blue is in hot pursuit of me or a kitty housemate. Bells come in particularly handy when a naughty cat decides to stay outside after dark. I know right away if a kitty is coming after I call if I hear a bell. No bell sound, and I retreat to try again later.

Only the Best for Kitties Blue

Our kids are never stuck with the wimpy, unadorned bells that come with cat collars. They have had numerous bells from Japan as Dad Tom has traveled there with regularity. These have consisted of cloisonné in a tie-dyed pattern as well as a set that included a cat face, owl, fish and eggplant.

They also have had a set from Switzerland. These were miniature cow bells painted with the national symbol of a red cross on a white background. These were my least favorite bells, as the paint wore off, the brass tarnished and the clabbers fell out. Not too useful after that.

Lost Bells

The current set of bells from Japan are the fanciest yet with cloisonné flower cut-outs accompanied by a small gold-toned bell and tag. I suspect these may be the kids’ least favorite as they have been removing their collars with increased frequency. Misty May went so far as removing the bells. She didn’t do a good job hiding them. I found them on our front walk. So far she has managed to allude our efforts with regard to reattachment.

The need for so many bell replacements arises from the ability of our kitties to lose their collars. All our cats had leather collars at one time and so the number of losses was fairly small. Since changing to the break-away collars, the number of losses has escalated. And I expect more than a few were lost purposely.

When I find a lost collar with bell and name tag still attached weeks, months or even years later, I feel as if I have won the lottery! They are usually in the garden like the one Fiona lost during one of her unauthorized outings. It was hanging from the branch of a boxwood. Over the years neighbor’s have returned a few. The best find, however, was one of Daphne’s which we knew had to be somewhere in the house. Years after the loss, it was found at the back of Dad Tom’s closet on the top shelf.

If you are reading this, I expect that you are a cat lover and will not have apoplexy about the loss of a few birds. If this does upset you, please refrain from sending me hate mail. I do understand your concerns. Thanks!