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Bib does trick but SPCA coy

JOE DAWSON
Last updated 05:00 08/03/2013
Cat Bib SPCA
JASON OXENHAM
SOLUTION: Katherine O’Keeffe with her cat Zambezi. ‘‘He’s a beautiful cat but the claws on him are just wow,’’ Ms O’Keeffe says.

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The bloodbath has ended for one Mt Eden cat owner.

For 18 months Katherine O'Keeffe would dread the scene she would find whenever she arrived home.

Her rescue kitten Zambezi turned out to be a stone cold killer, hunting birds on a daily basis.

But thanks to a product found online she has been able to start liking Zambezi again.

Cat predation of birdlife has been on the agenda recently following the launch of a campaign by philanthropist and economist Gareth Morgan to eradicate roaming feral cats.

Ms O'Keeffe was at her wits' end with Zambezi when she decided to look to the internet for a solution.

She discovered the CatBib, a brightly coloured neoprene bib that attaches to the collar and hangs loosely over the cat's chest.

According to those who sell the bibs it works by "gently interfering with the precise timing, and co-ordination a cat needs for successful bird catching" and does not impede any other feline behaviour.

It is not available in retail stores in New Zealand.

"He's a beautiful cat but the claws on him are just wow," Ms O'Keeffe says.

"Twice a day he would bring in these gorgeous birds and we were just beside ourselves with this problem.

"I love nature and birds and there are plenty around here, and every time I came home I was dreading the feathers and sadness of it all."

Zambezi was bringing in waxeyes, black birds and pigeons.

"He didn't eat them, he just played with them."

The CatBib had an immediate effect, she says.

"It only affects his ability to catch birds, and we take it off at night and keep him in. Now we don't come home to a head off and a body with feathers."

But SPCA Auckland chief executive Christine Kalin had not heard of the cat bib when the Central Leader approached her this week and wasn't impressed when shown a photo of Zambezi wearing it.

"This is not a product that SPCA Auckland would recommend," she says.

"There are alternative methods that are less invasive for cats, for example an approved cat safety collar with a small bell."

Ms O'Keeffe says the bib's effectiveness was studied in depth at Murdoch University in Western Australia in 2005 and found to stop 81 per cent of the 56 known hunters trialled from catching birds. The study also found most cats became accustomed to the bib within a day of wearing it.

Mr Morgan says the bib could be a good option.

"If it was proven to work it would be an option for sure. I suspect the SPCA would say it was cruelty however."

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