Can Cats and Birds Get Along?

Tabby cat sitting on a desk staring at a blue parakeet

Cats are natural predators, but birds are natural prey, which might present problems if these two types of pets must coexist. Outdoor cats and even indoor cats, as represented in cartoons, will pursue and pounce on birds because these actions are instinctive. But, in order for pet birds and to cohabit happily, can these inherent inclinations be overcome?

Cat and Bird Coexistence

A cat and a bird can live together in the same house, but you must take specific precautions to guarantee that the cat cannot physically harm the bird at any time. The natural impulse of a cat to pounce, capture, and "play" with the bird might appear at any time, putting your bird's life in jeopardy. But, of course, every cat and bird is unique. Some cats may ignore a pet bird entirely, while others will make it their life's purpose to catch one. If you allow your bird and cat to mingle, you must examine their characteristics and stay vigilant at all times.

Natural Instincts of Cats and Birds

Small animals, reptiles, fish, and even birds are among the prey that cats in the wild will pursue, stalk, and surprise. Jumping and catching anything, living or not, is enjoyable for a cat, and birds are no different. Cats consider birds to be either entertaining to play with or food, and they do not distinguish between domestic and wild birds.

If they feel endangered, most birds, whether in captivity or in the wild, will flee at the smallest shock, noise, or observation of a cat. The bird may even scream to warn other birds of the approaching predator. Even if a huge bird, such as a macaw, is approached by a cat, it is naturally afraid and would leave if feasible rather than fighting.

How Are Cats Dangerous to Birds?

This may seem like an easy response, but cats may easily injure or kill a bird. With its sharp claws, it can injure a bird, or the germs in its mouth can cause significant wounds and illness. Cats may also tear out crucial flying, balancing, and warming feathers, as well as inflict major emotional stress to a bird that has been attacked or threatened. Cats have been known to consume tiny birds.

Can Birds Be Dangerous to Cats?

Despite the fact that a cat is far more deadly to a bird than a bird is to a cat, a larger bird can nevertheless cause damage to an unwary cat. Large parrots have powerful beaks and claws that can do serious harm to whatever they grip. They have the ability to catch and bite a cat, particularly if the cat is afraid and not attempting to fight the bird. This is particularly common in shy or inquisitive cats, as well as terrified parrots acting in self-defense.

Ways to Help Cats and Birds Coexist

Despite the fact that cats naturally want to catch and even eat pet birds, there are things you can do to help these species live together peacefully within your home.

  • Secure the Bird Cage - If you have a curious cat, make sure your bird has a secure cage or aviary that the cat cannot get inside so you do not have to worry about them when you are not home. Additionally, make sure that your cat cannot knock over the bird cage. Small cages like those used for canaries are often placed on tables and can be easily knocked over. Secure the cage to a stand or sturdy table or make sure the cage is heavy enough that your cat cannot push it around. Finally, use cage locks or carabiners to make sure your cat cannot open the bird cage doors.
  • Keep Them in Separate Rooms - Consider placing the in a room that you can keep your cat out of. A caged bird being stalked by a cat (even if it is safe behind bars) can cause the bird unnecessary stress.
  • Never Allow a Cat Inside a Bird Cage or Aviary - Do not allow the cat to spend time in the aviary or cage, even if the bird is not present. You do not want your cat to think of these areas as its own places and develop any sense of ownership or territorial claims.
  • Try to Introduce Your Bird to Your Cat - This is typically a very slow process and you should start by simply allowing your caged bird and cat to see each other from a distance. Eventually, you can lessen the distance between the two after ensuring both are comfortable and not stressed. Some people who have cats that show no signs of going into predator mode will take their bird out of its cage and allow the two to see each other without bars in the way. If you feel comfortable trying this, it must be done with great caution and awareness in case your bird tries to jump out of your hands or your cat tries to pounce on the bird.