We've been feeding the birds outside for years now. I keep a metal trash can with a tight-fitting lid out in the garage filled with two 40 pound bags of black oil sunflower seeds. It's very convenient and lasts quite a while. I keep a small bucket in the can and just scoop it out to fill up the bird feeders every morning.
This attracts the squirrels, too, of course, so the feeders have baffles above and below the feeders on the pole. It doesn't stop the squirrels from trying, but if they're ever successful, it's just because the branches on nearby bushes need clipping. Snip, snip and they're foiled again until the branches grow back out. But we can't forget those little furballs, so I always spread a cup or two of seed on the ground for them and the chipmunks. This seemed like a good idea up until a year or so ago when the price of the seed about doubled. The squirrels and the chipmunks are like little vacuum cleaners and can make seeds disappear fast, so I'm a lot stingier with the seed these days, but I never take it away completely.
When mom and the cats came to live with us, the cats quickly discovered the best place to get sun was by the storm door, where they lie and watch all the activity at the outside bird feeder that's about 20 feet away. Soon we got the bright idea to spread a cup or two of seed on the porch to attract the squirrels and chipmunks, so the cats can see them up close through the door.
That didn't go over so well with the chipmunks and squirrels for a while, until they finally figured out that the cats can't get to them. At first it was a real hit with the cats, too, until they figured out that same thing. Now they'll sit and watch for a while, but mostly the appeal of that spot is for the sunshine coming through ... the hunt's no fun when it's for prey that can never be caught.
It's the same story at the in-window bird feeder ... prey that can never be caught. But that feeder still hasn't lost its appeal, and the other favorite spot is on the bench beside that window.
It's like the little laser lights that folks use to play with cats. At first it seems cute and funny, and it certainly is a convenient way for the human to give the cat some exercise. But after a while it feels more like torture. It's a game they can never win ...
Even if the cat "catches" the light, he hasn't caught anything ... zero reward for all that effort ... seems like torture and frustration to me. So we don't allow laser lights at our house for the cats.
Now I watch our cats watching the birds and the chipmunks and I wonder if that's frustrating, too. But I suppose it's okay, because there's no stalking or chasing ... mostly it's just watching. I call it Cat TV.
Cat TV is just like people TV ... passive entertainment for zero effort.
Just lay around like a slug and watch the show.
Don't worry about the show ending ... it will run eternally. Because when the seed runs out, the little varmits on the outside are peering into the window and tapping on the glass door ... Hello?! The feeders are empty! The seeds are gone! Get out here and give us some more! NOW!!
And like the obedient servant I am, I get out there and do my duty, and fill up those feeders and spread that seed.
The varmits on the outside resume the feeding frenzy, and the slugs – uh, cats – on the inside resume being the audience.
Sometimes out in the world we run across people who are searching for meaning in their lives. They wonder out loud, What's my purpose? What am I here to do?
They obviously do not live with cats.