Who knew a scrunchie could save lives?
Well, lifelong nature-lover and environmentalist Nancy Brennan did when she discovered a way to keep birds in her area safe by using a cat collar cover that looks strikingly similar to the colorful hair accessory made popular more than 20 years ago.
It all started with Brennan’s cat, George, who would hunt birds outside the family home in northern Vermont. He reportedly would bring anything he could get his paws on, much to the dismay of Brennan.
“Sometimes, he would catch a bird each day,” Brennan writes on her company website. “It was altogether heart-breaking, but George was used to going outdoors at will through his cat door. We agonized, and tried every so-called solution we could find.”
We discovered how to keep cats away from most birds. Songbirds have special color vision– we made cats more visible! pic.twitter.com/S8LvBQz0t8
— Birdsbesafe (@birdsbesafe) February 1, 2015
In 2008, she came up with the idea to create the scrunchie-style collar, which, with its bright colors and patterns, would warn birds that George was nearby, thus sparing their own lives. The creative experiment worked and Brennan founded Birdsbesafe in 2009.
Most recently, the feline accessory and Brennan’s company received a stamp of approval from researchers at Murdoch University in Western Australia.
The group conducted a study — published in January in the Applied Animal Behaviour Science, the official journal of the International Society for Applied Ethology — that found Birdsbesafe collars reduced the death rate of birds and reptiles by 54 percent.
New South Wales, AU. This cat’s owner says “he has been unsuccessful in his attempts to hunt birds” since Birdsbesafe pic.twitter.com/V9e1SJsDi6
— Birdsbesafe (@birdsbesafe) January 28, 2015
Catherine Hall, a Murdoch University Ph.D. student, led the research on 114 pet cats over two years in a suburban Australia area with three different color collars — red, yellow and rainbow. Researchers found birds reacted more readily to the rainbow and red collars. Mammals with poor color vision were not helped by the neckwear at all.
So if you have a cat that loves to bring you unwanted “presents,” make her the fashion talk of the neighborhood… and save a life!