I remember as a kid, I enjoyed watching the classic cartoon Looney Tunes. My favorite segment is watching Slyvester the cat trying to eat Tweety bird as a snack and failing every single time.
When I grew up and kept a bird at home together with my cat, I realized what was portrayed in the cartoon didn’t quite happen in real life.
My bird lived to a ripe old age but not without my cat trying to shorten it from time to time.
For pet owners that have a pet bird and a curious cat in the same house, how do you cat-proof your bird cage at home?
How To Get My Cat To Leave My Bird Alone?
Before we start labeling our darling cats as cruel bird hunters, we need to understand the natural relationship that exists between a cat and a bird in the wild.
Cats are hardwired to be stealthy and efficient hunters. Birds or rather small birds are prey to them.
You wouldn’t have this problem if you keep an eagle at home. You would be looking to bird-proof your cattery instead.
But I digress.
When a cat sees a bird in the wild, chances are it will start to hunt it. In fact, feral and stray cats are responsible for the demise of a large number of birds and even the extinction of some species.
Birds can fly away in the wild but don’t have that ability as pet birds.
Therefore it is important to know how to cat-proof your bird cage and also train your cat to not see the bird as a snack or toy.
Hanging Bird Cage
If you are keeping a small bird at home like a canary or sparrow, you can get a small hanging bird cage to keep it off the ground.
Get a bird cage with a hook on top that allows you to hang it on the ceiling.
Don’t get a bird cage that sits on a stand as it can be easily toppled over by your cat. Make sure to also hang the cage high away and away from objects that the cat can leap from.
Get A Heavy And Sturdy Cage
If you have space at home, keep a larger bird like a parrot or have a few smaller birds, instead of keeping them in separate small cages, consider a heavy and sturdy cage.
A lightweight cage can be easily knocked over by your cat, injuring or stressing your bird inside.
When getting such a cage, make sure that it is bottom-heavy and not top-heavy. Otherwise, it can easily topple.
Bar Spacing And Thickness
Even with a hanging cat or one that is heavy and sturdy, a determined cat can still find ways to get its cat’s paws on your bird.
Make sure that the bar spacing and thickness don’t allow any gaps large enough for a cat’s paw to get through.
If you have kittens at home, the gap between bars has to be even closer to account for their smaller paws.
Otherwise, the cage won’t be fully cat proof
Have A Latch Or Lock On The Cage
Having a lock or latch helps both ways to cat proof the age.
It prevents your cat from easily opening the cage door and getting to your bird.
And it also stops birds from opening the cage door from the inside and being vulnerable to the cat.
Make sure that the lock or latch takes some effort to open as there are some cat and bird breeds smart enough to open simple locks.
Slanted Cage Roofs
This acts as a deterrence for cats that like to sit on high ground. Having a sloping roof makes it a lot more difficult for your cat to sit or lay on top of your bird cage.
Even if your cat is cool with your bird, your bird might not feel the same way about having a predator over its head for most of the day.
Hiding Spots In The Cage
In the wild, birds tend to hide and sleep in safe spots. Being out in the open puts the bird in a dangerous position.
You can install birdhouses or nest boxes for your birds to hide inside if they feel threatened or frightened by your cat’s presence.
Smell is a very important sensory organ for cats and they have very sensitive noses.
In fact, cats in general have a muchbetter sense of smell than most dogs.
By placing stronger smelling scents around your bird cage, it will deter and discourage your cat from even coming close.
You can use crushed black pepper or anything that has a citrus scent to it. You can even purchase such sprays from your local pet shop.
A more economical way is to make a simple vinegar spray that uses one part vinegar and three parts water.
One important thing to note is to make sure your bird can tolerate the smell otherwise it might cause more problems.
Sound Base Deterrents
My cat is pretty jumpy and sudden loud sounds can scare him off. This is also a good way to keep your cat away from the bird cage.
There are some motion sensors that can emit compressed air or a recorded sound when triggered.
Place them strategically around your bird cage and let them do their job.
Socializing your Pet Bird And Cat
It is proof that you can socialize your cat and bird to make them regard each other as mates rather than enemies.
It takes time and effort but it can be done.
The one number one rule is to never leave your cat and bird unattended alone in the same room unless you are absolutely sure they properly socialized.
You don’t want to come back and find bird feathers all around the house with a sleeping and contented cat.
Start When They Are Young
The best time to socialize pets is when they are young. Their natural instincts have yet to kick in and everything is a plaything for them.
And with kittens being so small, they won’t really see the bird as prey since they are almost the same size.
Don’t just put the cat in the bird cage or let the bird run free with the cat around and expect them to be buddies.
What you need to do is to let them be comfortable with each other’s smell and presence in the same living space.
Let your cat come near the bird cage with your bird inside.
If your cat starts to exhibit any hunting or aggressive behavior, be quick to stop it with a firm ‘no’ or move the cat away.
Another good way to let your cat know that its behavior is not acceptable is to use a water spray.
Gently spray at your cat whenever it tries to be funny with the bird cage. Do not forcefully squirt or add any other ingredients to the water as it will harm your cat.
In order to not put too much stress on the bird, cover up the cage first. Your cat is able to tell what is inside just from the smell and audio cues.
Once your cat is relaxed or non-hostile around the bird cage, you start to make the introduction more personal.
Face To Face Meeting
Once you are confident that your cat is more curious than stalking your bird. You can get them to meet face to face.
Only do this if your bird is also well-trained and won’t start panicking in the presence of your cat.
Let the bird perch on your finger or hand and let the cat approach it. Any signs of hostile behavior should be stopped immediately.
Knowing how fast a cat can be with its actions, it is best to have someone in the room to discipline the cat.
Start off with just a few minutes of face to face and slowly increase the time duration. The day when your bird can be next to your cat while it’s sleeping or grooming itself is a victory.
As mentioned earlier, even though they are comfortable with each other, you should not leave them alone face to face unsupervised.
You never know when your cat’s natural instinct will kick in and start seeing the bird as prey.
Choose The Right Bird
For pet owners who already have a cat and are looking to keep a bird a well, choosing the right bird breed will make your life a lot easier.
Choose a bird breed that is able to strike a little fear in your kitty with a large beak or sharp claws. Birds like parrots, toucans and parakeets fit the bill.
Plus these birds are known to socialize better with existing family pets.
Can A Cat Open A Birdcage?
Yes, a cat can easily open a birdcage if it is just a simple latch or lock. There are certain intelligent cat breeds like the Siamese or Bengal that can make perform such feats.
Make sure that the lock or latch is complicated enough to deter your cat.
Can A Cat Attack A Bird In A Cage?
Yes, a cat can still cause serious harm to a bird that is still in the cage. If the cat knocks over the bird cage, it can injure the inside.
Furthermore, if the grills or bars are spaced wide enough for your cat to slip its paws in, your cat can do serious damage to the bird with its sharp claws.
Should I Punish My Cat For Hunting Birds?
If you notice that your cat has been harming the wild birds, make sure to put a stop to it. Don’t punish your cat by verbally or physically abusing it.
Train it to not see birds as prey or keep your cat indoors.
Putting a bell collar on your cat can warn the birds of your cat’s presence.
It is possible to have both a cat and a bird as pets living in the same room.
Regardless of how well behaved your cat is around your bird, it is also good to make sure that the cage is cat proof.