Cats are either cunning hunters or sleepy balls of fur. This makes it difficult to determine the outcome when pairing cats with other animals. The same goes for birds, as they are the natural prey of cats. Parrots are noisy, colorful, and intelligent, but many species have been hunted and killed by feral cats to near extinction.
Cats and parrots can live together in a household but are unlikely to become friends. Many owners keep large and small parrots with their cats, but you need to get them used to each other slowly and encourage them to give each other space. Never let your parrot and cat roam free at the same time. Supervise all interactions, train the cat to avoid the bird cage, and decide on a large parrot.
Keeping older parrots with young kittens will reduce the risk of fights or attacks.
However, accidents do happen, and cats have even been known to stare parrots to death.
This means that you must always remain vigilant. Stop any signs of harassment, chasing, or hostility from your cat.
Can Cats and Parrots Live Together?
Many keep parrots and cats in the same household without attacks, injuries, or excessive stress. However, this peaceful scenario does not happen by itself.
The coexistence of cats and parrots is a delicate endeavor. This is because cats are hunters that naturally prey on birds.
Even well-bred domestic cats that have never come into contact with birds will react aggressively if they set eyes on a bird.
This is an innate instinct that all cats have, regardless of breed. They see any bird as possible prey.
To a cat, a bird is a possible food source, a toy to throw around, or an object to chase.
While you can take all sorts of precautions, it can still happen that your cat will attack your bird.
Outdoor cats have a significant impact on bird populations worldwide. They hunt and kill billions of birds every year.
It is impossible to break a cat of this habit altogether. However, you can teach a cat to avoid the bird cage by reprimanding it when it tries to approach the parrot.
However, a cat cannot be trusted to remain peaceful when a parrot is within reach outside the cage. This is even more true if the cat is unsupervised.
Therefore, parrots and cats can get along only if you set boundaries, carefully monitor the animals, and do not allow them access to each other, especially at night.
It would be best to take safety precautions in case the hunting instinct kicks in with your cat.
Cats and Birds in the Same Household
Cats and birds can live in one household. This is true whether it is a large macaw or a tiny finch. However, you should expect some confrontations.
These fights can happen at any time. Whether the two animals have been introduced recently or lived together for years doesn’t matter.
Both cats and parrots must and can be trained and taught to behave.
However, they cannot erase millions of years of hunting instinct and evolution.
Are Parrots Afraid of Cats?
Parrots are afraid of cats because they are prey animals. A parrot’s brain is naturally programmed to be afraid of cats.
This is true even for non-threatening stimuli. A parrot’s heightened perception of predators can cause it to become stressed by other things as well:
- Loud televisions
- Several guests in the house
- Contact with small children who are moving quickly
- Flashing lights from passing cars
You can imagine how a parrot reacts when confronted with a real cat. A cat with its claws, sneaking behavior, and agile ability to jump back and forth.
Parrots naturally understand that they should fear cats even behind the secure bars of a cage.
Of course, every parrot is different. One parrot might flap its wings, scream, and try to flee when it catches sight of a cat.
Another seems unaffected until the cat does something to frighten him intentionally, for example, by staring at him or hitting his cage.
In a sense, it is safe to assume that any parrot will be easily unnerved by a cat, even if he has never seen one before.
Many parrots have been known to retreat as far as possible in their cages when frightened. Others have been known to bite and tease cats to scare them away.
Even if your cat never pays attention to him, the parrot will give him some attention when he is in the room.
Can Cats Attack Parrots?
Cats are capable of attacking a parrot. In most cases, your cat is not trying to annoy you or disrespect your training when she does so.
Instead, she will perceive a biologically impossible stimulus for her to ignore. These include:
- Fluttering of the feathers
- Rapid flight movements
- Smell of prey
- Calls or cries of prey
- Quick scurrying around of a small animal
This means that a budgie rushing across the table to you can rev up your cat’s hunting instincts.
But even a larger gray parrot flying across the apartment to its cage is almost irresistible to your cat.
Even kittens that have been hand-raised and never been exposed to birds may snatch up a parrot when they grow up. It’s a natural, unavoidable instinct.
That’s why cats enjoy feather toys, laser pointers, and ball toys even when they have no contact with birds. All of these stimulate the instinct to chase, snatch, and strike prey.
Of course, how likely your cat is to attack your parrot depends on many factors:
- Has your cat grown up with the parrot and been trained from an early age to stay away from it?
- Can the parrot roam freely in the home, even within the cat’s reach?
- Does the cat have enough toys and other entertainment?
- Is the parrot large or small? Cats respond more eagerly to prey that is smaller than them.
While not all cats will attack birds, chances are they will attack your parrot if given the opportunity.
But this can also be dangerous for the cat. Parrots have sharp claws, powerful beaks, and impressive biting power.
Macaws bite with a force of up to 700 psi. This is more than enough to shatter bones. Cats also attack parrots, but both can be injured in the process.
Can a Cat Kill a Bird by Staring at It?
Parrots have been reported to die from stress after a long, prolonged stare-off with a cat. This is because cats stare at their prey. After all, they expect a weakness.
In the wild, this is a wait for the right moment to strike. A parrot instinctively recognizes this and knows it is in danger. Parrots can become ill from such stress.
This can lead to the following:
- Loss of appetite
- Sleep problems
- Difficulty in processing nutrients
- Weakened immune system
If the stress is overwhelming and long-term, it can lead to sudden parrot death. Although this is rare, you should know that it is possible.
It is even more likely if the parrot is trapped in its cage. While this protects it when the cat strikes, it also prevents the parrot from escaping.
The bird will not understand that he is safe behind bars. Instead, it must stay perfectly still and wait for a moment when it can escape.
But that moment will never come in the cage. This ongoing fear can be deadly.
How to Bring Parrots and Cats Together
The most dangerous time for a cat and a parrot is the acclimation period.
The cat is introduced to a new, fascinating, delicious-smelling prey animal. The parrot gets to know a predator in the flesh, especially one that seems too eager and busy.
Both will be prone to impulsive behavior, be it fleeing or chasing.
Introduce Cats and Parrots to Each Other
Proceed slowly, carefully, and with safety in mind during this introduction. If you have a second person who can help, you should ask that person to hold the cat while you hold the parrot.
If another person is present, you can also introduce the two animals without a cage. If your parrot’s wings are not clipped, a cage is helpful so it doesn’t fly away in fear.
- Place the parrot in its cage and slowly introduce it to the cat.
- Let the cat come closer if the parrot shows no fear or distress.
- If your parrot seems comfortable, let the cat smell him.
Watch for signs that your cat is anxious, excited, or restless. You don’t want it to snap at or stalk him, which would startle the parrot.
Stop the approach if the cat shows signs such as:
- Ears lying flat
- Twitching ears
- Tail wagging
If your cat does something that frightens your parrot, you must reprimand it with a stern “no”. Never allow aggressive behavior.
You should separate the two animals if the parrot backs away, hisses, or ruffles its feathers. They should then first warm up to each other from a distance.
When they have calmed down, bring them closer together again and use positive reinforcement:
- Speak softly, happy, and tell them all is safe and well.
- Praise both the cat and the parrot for their behavior.
- Give treats to both animals after they meet, then keep them separate.
- If you can’t supervise them, don’t let them be alone in a room together.
- If you can supervise them, make sure they can see each other from a safe distance.
- Consistently reprimand bad behavior and praise them when they ignore each other or behave politely.
Getting Cats and Parrots Used to Each Other
After a few sessions with you as the facilitator, the cat and the parrot should learn to get along and coexist peacefully.
A good outcome of training would be that the cat stays away from the parrot’s cage and doesn’t stare at it for long periods.
At the same time, the parrot should not react defensively or fearfully when the cat is in the room.
Here’s how you should proceed to accomplish this:
- Do not let the parrot out of its cage during the first few weeks when the cat is present. Accidents can occur.
- Keep the cat secured in another room when the parrot leaves its cage.
- If you will release both, have another person in the room to intervene if necessary.
- If your parrot is large, preferably larger than the cat, you can have more room to maneuver.
- For a smaller bird like a budgie, it may not even be worth the risk of letting them both loose in the same room. Cats could kill the bird instantly without any chance of you preventing it.
How to Keep a Cat Away from a Bird Cage
It is most likely that your parrot will be attacked when it is in its cage. This is because owners mistakenly think parrots are safe in the cage and do not supervise their cats during this time.
Of course, a parrot’s cage should be a safe, peaceful retreat where it can relax.
If you can’t keep an eye on the cat all the time or want to avoid accidents, here are some ways to mark the bird cage as a restricted area.
Stable Cage With Locks
Your parrot needs a sturdy cage that the cat can’t get into. It should also be sturdy and stable enough so the cat can’t knock it over.
For sturdiness, choose cages that are as follows:
- Stainless steel
- Wrought iron
- Powder coated
It would be best if you also chose a large cage for your parrot. This will not only allow him to spread his wings and be comfortable.
It also prevents the bird from feeling cramped in a small space. This makes him feel defenseless against the cat.
It has nowhere to retreat to when the cat reaches through the bars. Even a retreat can be a great comfort to a parrot.
Equip the cage with toys, perches, and branches. This breaks the cat’s line of sight and allows the parrot to maneuver away from the bars.
If the worst happens and the cat attacks the parrot, the bird will feel safer hiding behind its toys.
Finally, ensure the cage has a sturdy lock that your cat or parrot can’t open.
The distance between the bars should be no more than one centimeter. Cages for larger parrots often have more space between the bars.
But if you keep them with a cat, you should prevent their paws from reaching through.
Choose the Right Place
The cage should be in a corner where your parrot is not the center of attention. If you can surround it with things like potted plants or furniture to cut the line of sight, that’s even better.
But make sure you don’t put anything too close to the cage. You don’t want the cat to have its perch from which to watch the parrot.
Ideally, place the cage in a location your cat cannot access. This could be in a guest room, bedroom, or the living room if the cat is not allowed there.
This will ensure that the parrot is not stressed by the sounds of your cat playing or moving around at night. Since cats are more active at night, this can disrupt the 10-12 hour night’s rest that is so important to a parrot.
Deter the Cat
Parrots attract cats, but certain smells can deter them. Cats even have a better sense of smell than dogs. This means that you can deter cats using scents.
However, make sure that you use them sparingly. Parrots have a sensitive respiratory system and react negatively to essential oils.
If you use scents too intensively, you may harm your parrot more than the cat.
You should never spray these products directly on the cage or parrot. It is also not advisable to spray the agent into the air when the parrot is outside the cage.
Instead, spray a few drops of one part essential oil in three parts of water around the cage. Place the bird in another room until the mist settles.
The smell should linger and deter the cat, but it won’t harm the parrot. You might also soak cotton balls in this mixture and put them near the cage.
Appropriate scents are:
You can also line the area around the bird’s cage with foil or sandpaper.
Cat feet are susceptible and reluctant to step on these surfaces. The foil or sandpaper won’t hurt your cat, but it will try to avoid walking on it.
How to Stop a Cat from Attacking Your Bird
Despite all countermeasures, there is still a chance that your cat will attack your parrot. Being alert, cautious, and prepared is the best way to ensure both stay safe. Here are some prevention tips.
Older Birds, Younger Cats
Older parrots are easier to train because they respond better to your commands. On the other hand, kittens respond better to training and follow their commands longer.
They are also usually less aggressive than older cats. If you can get parrots and cats of these ages together, conflict is less likely.
However, it’s still important to keep an eye on the parrot and cat, no matter how old they are. An argument can still be dangerous and even fatal.
Because kittens are smaller, they can do less damage to parrots, especially adults. If you have a large parrot and a small kitten, the balance of power will also reverse. If you ensure the parrot does not behave aggressively, the kitten will normally not challenge the parrot.
Once the kitten is an adult, it should have a more natural respect for the parrot. However, this is not a given. Kittens can still follow their wild hunting instincts when they are older. They may be less likely to do so, but a newly adult bored cat will readily reverse the balance of power.
Larger parrots can also take advantage of their size and strength to attack a kitten. This is especially true if they feel defensive, annoyed by the cat, or jealous of your time. If you have a large parrot, there is less danger to the kitten, but you still need to be vigilant.
Separate Cats and Parrots
If you own a parrot and a cat, you don’t have to keep them together in the same room or let them roam free.
The best way to keep both the cat and the bird safe is to restrict their interactions. This is true even for pets that seem to get along well.
After all, cats and parrots do not benefit from living together in any way. Even if they did, the risks would outweigh the benefits.
Always motivate your cat to stay away from your parrot and vice versa. It is less likely to give in to its hunting instincts if your cat is often chased away from the bird cage.
Do Not Use Cat Toys With Feathers
Avoid any cat toys that contain feathers, mainly stick toys with feathers.
Although this toy is common for cats, your cat will associate feathers with scratching, biting, and attacking.
If she sees the feathers on your parrot, she will find it natural to play with them, too. Even if your cat’s intentions are harmless, playing can be dangerous for your parrot.
Summary: Parrots and Cats
Running a household with different animals can be a fulfilling experience. However, it also requires responsibility.
If you take the proper precautions, your cat and parrot will get along. At best, this means they will largely ignore each other.