The Songbird Saver

Desmond Slattery (1914-1977) claimed to be a naturalist. But I'm not sure how much scientific training he actually had. I suspect that's just how he rebranded himself after his career in Hollywood fizzled.

His 'Songbird Saver,' which he debuted in 1968, was designed to stop cats from attacking birds by conditioning them to think that, if they did so, the birds would explode. As explained in the LA Times (Jan 23, 1969):

Basically, the Songbird Saver consists of a small dummy bird which, when nudged by a cat for any reason, explodes.
Slattery's own news release describes its effectiveness perhaps more vividly:
"Slipping out of the house, the trainee-cat will make its stealthily stalking approach... Seeing it (the Songbird Saver), apparently frozen with terror, the trainee-cat will pounce upon it, and with the resulting explosion, that cat will go about 9 feet in the air and take off for the high timber before its feet touch the ground."
It is with this simple device that Slattery hopes to save civilization "as we know it."
"Songbirds are vital to our ecology of life," he explained. "Our society could not exist without them. Frankly, in six years we'd be up to our neck in insects."
Slattery emphasized his device is harmless to cats and uses merely the same sort of exploding caps used in cap pistols. It is based on common theories of preconditioning and some stuff he read by Mark Twain on a cat's ability to learn.
"It's based, actually, on a combination of Pavlov and Mark Twain. If both those guys are wrong, I'm wrong."
The dapper 54-year-old promoter denied he was "anti-cat" and said that in fact his invention would allow cats and birds to live together in harmony.

El Paso Times - Dec 26, 1968

Los Angeles Times - Jan 23, 1969

     Posted By: Alex - Wed Nov 13, 2019
     Category: Animals | Inventions | Cats | 1960s

Commenting is not available in this channel entry.