09 January 2024, by Emily Proctor

Amsterdam is set to ask its residents to dress their cats in collars equipped with bells in an effort to protect birds and other wildlife from being hunted by the animals. The plan is part of a proposal currently being discussed by officials to ensure that the city is still animal-friendly. 

Domestic cats kill 18 million birds a year in the Netherlands

According to research by Wageningen University, domestic cats in the Netherlands kill around 18 million birds a year, making them one of the only animals that are allowed to walk the streets of Amsterdam unhindered despite posing a risk to birds and other small animals.

A number of groups have sought to ensure that cats are not able to walk through the city unsupervised in recent years, with many campaigners arguing that the pets should instead remain inside the home or be “walked” around the city in a similar fashion to dogs. Dutch foundation Huiskat Thuiskat, which has taken legal action against free-roaming cats in the Dutch courts, has welcomed the proposals but stressed that bells only reduce a cat’s effectiveness in catching prey by 33 to 50 percent.

City of Amsterdam also looking to prevent stray cats on the street

The city is also looking for ways to curb the number of strays found on the streets of Amsterdam. The authorities are planning a campaign to encourage cat owners to have their animals chipped and sterilised to keep the number of stray cats as low as possible. 

Other suggestions from experts include a curfew for cats, to keep young birds safe during breeding season. According to the European Birds and Habitats Directives, countries have a legal obligation to protect wildlife, so letting cats roam and kill birds and other wild creatures is illegal, researchers from Tilburg University say. 

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