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Birds in Cat-Friendly Homes

Birds with Cats

Cats are incredible predators, biologically programmed to seek out prey and given the tools to catch it. I certainly understand why you want to have a cat and a bird in the same household. Both make wonderful pets, and they can each be appreciated for their differences.

Since I am often asked for my opinion on this topic, I have included below a few concerns you might think about bringing a bird into your home:

  1. Even a very old, or well-trained cat can be perceived as a threat to your bird. Mot humans would be uncomfortable with someone standing outside and staring at them through the living room window. Likewise, some birds feel very insecure when a cat sits below their cage watching their movements or, worse, put his paws on the cage and actively tracks them. 
  2. Compared to dogs, cats’ senses are heightened and their reaction times are faster. I have heard so many sad stories of the bird becoming startled, taking off, and ending up under the paw of the family cat. It is not the cat’s fault. They are reacting on instinct. In one example I heard not too long ago the family re-homed their cat after he attacked and killed their pet Budgie. The mother said her 8-year-old daughter couldn’t look at the cat without becoming upset and angry, blaming him for the accident. This is a sad situation all-around: a bird was killed, a cat was sent away, and a family lost both of their pets. This could have been so easily avoided had the family waiting to get a bird until after the cat had lived his natural lifespan.

“Solutions” to the Above

“Oh, it’ll be okay. I’ll just keep my bird in the bedroom upstairs behind a closed door where she’s safe, and go play with her every day.”

Look, I get it: you really want to make this work and are trying to find a happy-medium. That said, think about your children, or try and remember your own childhood, for just a moment. Most childrens’ bedrooms are full of their favourite things: books, movies, stuffed animals. Despite all of this no child wants to spend all day in his bedroom, all by himself.

Birds are very social creatures. Your bedroom might be beautiful, and the cage might be enormous, but what the bird wants is to be in the heart of your home, right in the centre of the action, able to see you through the day. Birds left alone in a bedroom all day (able to hear the action below them, but not able to participate) can become depressed or anxious in time. It’s just not an ideal situation for them. Birds in a more communal space feel as though they are part of family activities even if they are inside of the cage at the time. This placement also allows you not to feel guilty if it is a particularly long day and you are unable to take time to bring your bird out to play. 

“It’s alright. I’ll keep the bird in the living room and I’ll just lock the cats downstairs when I take her out of the cage”

Refer to #1 above. My concern here is not your plan for when the bird is out of the cage, but rather the situation the rest of the day. Some birds feel very insecure when a cat sits below their cage watching their movements or, worse, put his paws on the cage and actively tracks them. 

The Bottom Line

I have been working with birds fo a long time and have yet to find a true solution that enables families to have cats and birds in the same household without sacrificing the needs of either pet. For this reason, it is our policy not to sell birds to families who have one or more cats in the home. Every breeder will have their own policies in place, and another breeder might be happy to offer you a bird for your cat-friendly home. 

If you have a system that works well I’d love to hear it and would be happy to re-consider our policies, and/or add it to this web page for others to benefit. Please call me at 705-957-7200.