Published by: Ingrid King. Last Updated on: February 10, 2023 by Crystal Uys
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.
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 Answers.com and is republished with permission.
About the author
Ingrid King is an award-winning author, former veterinary hospital manager, and veterinary journalist who is passionate about cats.