valerie wrote: Although it is stil windy here, it has died down. We had something like 100 mile an hour winds.
Sorry to hear about the storm damage - much of the east coast of Australia has just gone through some very wild weather too & the clean-up will take months.
valerie wrote: I need to get some new collars but so difficult to find the ones that are NOT breakaway collars. I put big Christmas bells on the collars. IF I had them on the cats, that squirrel probably would have gotten away.
I don't know if this would have helped the squirrel, but if you want your cats to stop hunting birds in your area, researchers recently discovered that brightly multi-colored collars (like rainbow scrunchies used to tie hair ponytails) were extremely effective (from memory, they cut the songbird death rate by about 90%).
Cats learn to stalk without making bell collars tinkle (easy to do since they naturally walk softly without straightening their legs), but because they cannot see colors well, they have no idea that the bright collar makes them stand out to other animals which can see color (at least, during the day). Apparently, squirrels can see in color, but are red-green color blind, so a rainbow collar might still be helpful.
I'm not sure whether this might make them more noticeable to owls though.
You can do a search for rainbow collar for cats on Google & get lots of results - some even come with a bell too.
Rainbow Collars Could Help Keep Cats From Wiping Out Birds | Smart News | Smithsonian