Updated: Oct 27, 2019
Cats are fantastic pets with quirky characters and many of our bat carers are cat lovers. Sadly, cats have a huge impact on our native wildlife, especially our batty friends. In fact nearly 50% of the bat rescues that come into us are due to cats catching them.
Many people are shocked that cats are even quick enough to catch bats, but they are very skilled hunters. They will often work out where a bat roost is and sit and wait for the bats to start to emerge, as that is when they are most vulnerable. This also puts the whole colony of bats at risk rather than just one individual bat as the cat will return.
Why do cats catch bats?
Cats are very unlikely to catch bats for food; they mainly catch them to play with them, which can cause serious wing tears and internal injuries. Whenever a bat comes in to Bristol Bat Rescue that has been caught by a cat, we have to make sure they have a course of antibiotics as cats claws and saliva can cause fatal infections. If the bat does not get the correct treatment then they will most likely die - not from their injuries, but from the infection.
How can I stop my cat from catching bats? It is impossible isn't it?
It actually easier than you think!
Following these important steps can help you be a responsible cat owner,and help contribute to the conservation of our bat species:
1. Feed your cat half an hour before sunset and then keep them in all night between the months of April and October - these are the months when bats are most active.
2. If keeping your cat in all night is not an option then feed your cat and keep them in half an hour before sunset and then do the same an hour before sunrise.
3. Keep your cat indoors during the bats maternity season, especially if you suspect there are lots of bats roosting near your home. Mid-June to August is when bats are rearing their young, so keeping your cat in at night during this time of year can also help!
If your cat frequently brings home bats, it may have located a bat roost. If you suspect a bat roost has been found, please put one of the above steps into action to prevent your cat catching any more of our batty friends.
If you believe the roost is having problems and you are regularly seeing bat pups or dead bats that have not been brought in by your cat, please contact the Bat Conservation Trust and they will send out a roost visitor to assess the roost.
Stats from the Bat Conservation Trust website reveal that only 14% of bats rescued from cat attacks can be rehabilitated and released back into the wild. 30% of attack victims are unable to be returned to the wild, and 56% sadly do not survive the ordeal.
If you can keep your cat in at any of the times stated above then you are making a huge difference to their conservation and future preservation!
If you have found an injured bat please take a look at our 'Found a Bat?' page.