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Can Cats and Birds Live Together? Vet Approved Facts & FAQ

Written by: Brooke Billingsley

Last Updated on June 6, 2024 by Catster Editorial Team

Can Cats and Birds Live Together? Vet Approved Facts & FAQ

VET APPROVED

Dr. Maja Platisa Photo

REVIEWED & FACT-CHECKED BY

Dr. Maja Platisa

DVM MRCVS (Veterinarian)

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

Learn more »

Cats and birds couldn’t be more different from each other. Not only do they belong to completely different animal families, but they are physically very different from each other. Anyone who has ever had an outdoor cat has likely spotted their cat take a flying leap into the air in an attempt to catch a bird, oftentimes with great success.

Birds and cats can both make great pets, but if you’re interested in keeping birds and cats, you may have found yourself feeling like you can’t find a way to safely keep both of these animals in the same home. Is there a safe way to keep cats and birds in the same home, though? Yes, there are safe ways to keep cats and birds in a home together. Keep reading to learn how!

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Remember, keeping cats and birds together in the same home comes with many risks, as it may often result in the bird’s injury and death. This should never be pursued without previous experience with both species, veterinary and behaviorist advice, and a controlled and safe environment. Do not attempt this before speaking to your vet and ensuring all the safety precautions have been met. The safest way to keep both species healthy and happy is to keep them well away from each other at all times, ensuring your bird is in a secure aviary and in a part of the home the cat cannot access. Many websites provide “tips” on how to introduce these two animals, but we at Catster feel this is not safe for your bird, and the bird’s safety comes first.

How Can Cats and Birds Live Together?

There is a lot of planning and supervision that needs to be done with both of these opposite species in your home.

For example, having a loose bird in your home with a cat is a recipe for disaster. Even the most laid-back, lazy cats can have their hunting instincts spiked by seeing a bird fly around the house. It might surprise you significantly to see how quickly your lazy house cat can turn into a bird-catching killer.

Even with supervision, it’s advisable to keep cats and birds separate from each other. You might be sitting in the room with your cat and your bird, but if your cat manages to grab your bird, your bird could be seriously injured or dead before you can even act. These two pets should always be kept separate from each other.

The bird’s enclosure and aviary should be in a room that is always secure and out of the cat’s reach so that the two animals stay unaware of each other’s presence as much as possible. Otherwise, cats may be particularly drawn to the area where they know there is a bird if they have a strong hunting instinct. Some cats are completely uninterested in birds, but if you think your cat would never harm a bird, think twice. Cats are predators by nature and they can’t be blamed for their instinct. The responsibility is yours to ensure your bird is safe at all times.

Carolina birds eating in the bird feeder
Image Credit: Ancha Chiangmai, Shutterstock

Living Spaces for Cats and Birds

Both of your pets should be provided with spaces that allow them comfort and safety away from each other. Cats enjoy having areas that are quiet, and many cats prefer high-up spaces that allow them to comfortably rest and watch over the goings on in the home. Clean water and easy access to food are necessary.

Birds may have different preferences based on the species, but all birds should have a spacious and clean aviary with plenty of clean water and appropriate food. They should also be provided with toys and enrichment items that keep them entertained and happy. These items should be rotated or changed regularly to maintain your bird’s attention and keep them feeling happy and fulfilled.

Cats and birds should both be provided with plenty of one-on-one attention from their people every day. This doesn’t just build trust and happiness, but it also ensures both pets are healthy and safe.

Should Birds Be Kept as Pets?

This is a difficult question, with lots of debate and conflicting opinions, but it does dig into some of the ethical perspectives on keeping birds as pets. Birds need a lot of care, a very experienced and dedicated owner, and a spacious aviary so they can freely exercise, with environmental enrichment and toys to provide all of their welfare needs. Social birds should not be kept on their own. The current global concern in keeping pet birds is inadequate housing, which results in poor welfare for birds. Owners should speak to their vets and gain knowledge on how to provide good nutrition and minimize the risk of stress and disease.

man holding a bird
Image Credit: Renier van Heerden

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Should Cats and Birds Be Introduced?

Absolutely not. These two species are natural “enemies”, and the risk of something going wrong and your bird getting seriously or fatally injured is just not worth it. Sudden stress and shock from such an encounter may even lead to death in birds, showing how sensitive they are. Otherwise, it can lead to stress that leaves health consequences for your bird.

Signs of stress in birds:
  • Decreased appetite
  • Biting
  • Screaming
  • Decreased vocalization
  • Feather picking
  • Self-mutilation
  • Stereotypical behaviors

In Conclusion

Cats and birds can both safely be kept in homes together if proper precautions have been taken to ensure that cats and birds are kept well away from each other. It’s your job as a pet owner to provide both of your pets with safe and happy environments. Allowing them to spend time together is not safe or recommended. It will create stress for one or both animals, so common sense and strict safety precautions are essential to keeping your cat and your bird happy in a home together.


Featured Image Credit: Nils Jacobi, Shutterstock

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