If you’re going to add a bird to a household with cats, choose wisely. Smaller birds such as finches or canaries, who typically don’t like to be handled and are quite content to spend their lives in a cage, may be a better choice than parrots or cockatiels, who thrive on human interaction.

Get the right cage for your bird

A large, sturdy cage is a must. Make sure the cage is placed securely enough so it can’t be toppled. The cage needs to be large enough so birds can retreat from probing paws. Get nesting boxes and other visual barriers, such as branches or toys, so your bird can hide behind them if he gets scared. This will reduce stress for the bird, and reduce the likelihood of your cat hurting the bird.

Never leave cats and birds unobserved in the same room

Never leave your cat alone in the room with the bird until you can be absolutely sure that she won’t harm the bird. Spend time with both bird and cat in the same room and make it a pleasant experience for both. If you notice any signs of stress in your bird, or signs that your cat wants to attack the bird, remove the cat from the room. Reward positive behavior with treats.

Do not use water spray bottles on your cat

I do not recommend the use of spray bottles to deter the cat from trying to go after the bird. Spray bottles used as punishment are ineffective, and will only ruin the bond between you and your cat. Place battery operated devices such as the SSSCat near the bird cage. These devices deploy a sharp burst of compressed air. Your cat will soon associate this unpleasant sensation with the bird and the cage, but not with you, as is the case with using a spray bottle.

Accidents happen

Even if you can train your cat and bird to coexist peacefully under supervision, accidents happen. A sudden movement on the part of your bird may trigger your cat’s hunting instinct, no matter how laid back she usually is. For this reason, even after you’ve acclimated both cat and bird, it’s always better to keep your bird in his cage and in a separate room from your cat when you can’t be there to supervise.

Bite wounds need prompt attention

If your cat scratches or bites your bird despite all of your precautions, take your bird to a veterinarian immediately. Cat bites and scratches can lead to life-threatening infections in your bird.


This article was previously published on and is republished with permission.

10 Comments on Can Cats and Pet Birds Live Safely Together?

  1. I have a friend who I met at the feral cat colony. She and her husband live with about 45 cats, a small dog and 20 Corian birds. No human children. She has the birds in one room, that the cats can go in when the birds are in their cages. When cleaning the bird cages daily, she closes the bird room door and let all the birds fly around the room. After cleaning, the birds just fly back in their cages. The cats live anywhere in the house. They do have to put a plastic thing over their bed when the humans are not in it because some of the cats urinate on the humans bed. Their house is one of the cleanest houses, that I have ever seen.

  2. We have 4 adult kitties & 1 Cockatiel. They have pretty much grown up together. Birdy has a mansion for a cage.. About 5 yrs ago we upgraded her to a large parrot cage. Of course our kitties love watching her & they often raz eachother. My hubby has always been confident that they would not harm Birdy. Me.. Not so much. I am adiment that our innocent loving fat sassy fur babies are still CATS! While I am sure that Birdy feels she could take on all four of I am not willing to take that chance. So I had my hubby put a chicken wire type screen all around the cage. Kept on by zip ties. He did a really nice job so it looks very neat. Paws cannot reach in & Birdy can’t take a chunk of paw off with her beak. Thankfully no incidents. With taking a few extra precautions like you suggested we have a safe fun living area

  3. A friend of ours had cats and birds together for many years and never had any issues whatsoever. Mind you two of them were large parrots but the third was a cockatiel which is a little tiny thing. I do agree though that as a rule it is a chancey thing to do at best unless you’re dealing with larger birds and really mellow cats. Just for the record when our friend’s cockatiel did get killed it was a dog that did it not one of the cats.

  4. We have always had birds since moving in with my original cat (it was his house first). The parakeets were strictly kept in a cat-free zone (cats were allowed only when supervised and the birds were caged).

    Now, we have a bigger bird (dove) and he actually shares his room with the kitties’ play room. While he’s caged, the kitties don’t really bother him, as they’re usually elsewhere in the house or hanging out in the windows anyway. I keep a cat tree close enough so they can observe him from a distance; far enough away from his cage to not encourage trying to jump on the cage (which only the kitten has done on a couple occasions). Also, his cage is rather large so, if they did manage to get to the cage and try to reach in, he has plenty of room to get away. When I opened the room up, I built a coroplast surround, to give him some privacy, prevent cage climbing and keep any flying seed away from kitties’ curious mouths. (safety first!)

    For the most part, the bird doesn’t pay the cats any mind and vice versa. It’s really too much effort for the cats to bother with the in-house bird (who is big and also scary to them) when they have plenty of windows to observe little critters outside in the trees.

    Now, when it’s time for the cage to be open and bird to be free, the cats get locked out of the room. Especially since, due to an injury he sustained before I took him in, he doesn’t fly well and, being a breed of pigeon, is also a ground-dweller anyway.

    Cats will be cats, so I would never trust them all on the loose together. I still barely trust my crazy kitten and the 9yr old together. 🙂

  5. Yes I have seen it.
    My first experience was with a parrot my mom had for 25 years, all that time there were also cats, and a dog at home. All the cats and dogs learnt that that little green fellow was a particular character and should not be attacked, eventhough he used to escape from his cage and went around the house, walking on the floor, looking for my mom. The cats were amazing, they kept their distance, carefully avoiding the (menacing) little green wanderer.
    Nowadays I live with my brother and he has a beautiful tropical bird in a cage (this one does not go around) and the three cats have understtod that bird belongs to a different category (they try to catch every bird that comes near the windows) and with a little supervision at the begining they understood it cannot be touched. It took only a few days for them to learn. Nowadays they just seem not to look at each other.
    Have a look at my black boy gracefully ignoring the rather noisy bird.

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