Tag Archives: birds

Should Cats Eat Mice and Birds?

We all love our feline pets. They love to show they love us by bringing us little presents they capture in the wild. Many a cat lover has discovered a half eaten mouse or bird on their doorstep left by their kitty as a token of love for being such a good caretaker. But, we wonder, is it safe that they have eaten some of that wild animal, especially when we have no idea where it has been?

Cats are carnivores and predators. In fact they are obligate carnivores meaning they must have meat to live. Meat contains taurine which is one of the essential nutrients to a cat’s diet. The bones of the animals they consume are full of calcium and are easily broken down and digested. The bones, guts, fur and feathers of mice and birds contain fiber which is another essential nutrient. They obtain water from their prey as well. Cats enjoy a variety of textures which is why they relish chewing on mice and birds. Their natural instinct is to hunt.  If you do not wish to have them bring home such wildlife, you will have to keep them indoors or monitor their time outdoors.

If your cat is allowed to roam, be sure it gets regular check-ups for worms and other parasites. Be sure vaccines such as rabies and feline leukemia are up to date. In very rare cases, a cat can contract a disease such as toxoplasmosis which can lead to uvitis and glaucoma. Again, regular checkups for your outdoor cat are good preventative medicine.

Humans should take care when disposing of their little  presents of mice and birds. Take care to wear gloves and even a mask when handling the gift.  Viruses, such as the sometimes deadly hantavirus, can be spread for example, by handling a mouse. Scrub any surface that the mouse came in contact with.  Cats are not carriers of the virus nor can it be transferred from one person to another.

In general, it is not harmful for cats to eat mice and birds. This is how many cats live in the wild. However, keep your cat safe by keeping it’s checkups regular and keep yourself safe by using gloves when you handle strange wildlife. Happy hunting!

Can Cats and Birds Share a Home?

Many pet owners enjoy both feathered and furry friends.  But as we have all seen in cartoons, the cat always chases the bird. By nature, cats tend to be the predator and birds the prey. Those of us who have an outdoor roaming cat might just find a dead bird on our doorstep one day as proof of this. But what if we want to enjoy the  delightful sounds of a songbird or the companionship of a talking parrot? Can we also keep our cuddly furry friend as well?

It is possible for cats and birds to co-exist in the same household. There are some important precautions and living arrangements that should be considered. Cats carry a bacteria in their saliva called Pasteurella. It is not harmful to the cat, dogs or humans but can be lethal to birds. Birds can contract this bacteria from a cat bite and die within 24 hours as the bacteria rapidly multiply in their bodies. Even a small scratch on the bird from a swatting cat can lead to infection. Antibiotics must be administered in that 24 hours to prevent death to the bird.

Even mild-mannered cats cannot control their predatory nature and instinct to kill a small animal. Think about the way cats play with toys dangling from a string or flitting around them. A cat will chase, pounce and attack the toy.  Stalking and pouncing are reflex actions for cats. You would not want this type of reaction to occur with your beloved feathered friend.

It is best to keep a bird in a strong, solid cage high up on a stand or hanging hook that is away from furniture. Be sure that the cage has a secure, child-proof lock and that there are no free-sliding doors. Cats should not be able to reach the cage when they jump up. If the cage is within the cat’s reach, he might frighten the bird even to the point of death by pawing or pouncing at the cage. A cat sitting and staring constantly at the bird can cause the bird stress. This stress can lead to destructive behaviors on the part of the bird such at biting or feather plucking. If you have to leave the house, it is best to keep the cat and bird in separate rooms with the doors securely fastened.

Small birds such as finches and canaries usually stay within the confines of their cages and are content to be there.  However, larger birds such as macaws and cockatoos enjoy interacting with people and like to be let out of their cages to play with their owners or explore. At times like these, cats should be kept away in a separate area of the home or well supervised by a second person in the room. Believe it or not, larger birds may become aggressive towards cats.  A bite from a big bird can even break the skin of the cat and require stitches.  Keeping the bird and the cat in separate areas and giving them both the attention they need is the best thing you can do. Enjoy your feathered and furry friends and keep them safe!

Can Tweety and Sylvester Co-habitate?

When we think of cats and birds living together, what comes to mind is Tweety bird being stalked by Sylvester.  Cats are instinctively natural predators.  In the wild, quick birds can just fly away from them.  In your home, the bird does not have this advantage and can run out of steam trying to flee the cat. Here are some ideas for keeping both cats and birds as pets.

-Let your cat know that the bird is not going to steal your affection. Jealousy can cause a cat to become aloof from you or stalk that cute feathered friend behind the bars. Give your cat lots of attention to let your cat know this new pet is just one more member of the family.

-Do not place the bird cage in an area that your cat can knock over and free the frightened bird. A cage that stands on the floor can work if it is sturdy and not placed where it can be bumped. Be sure the cage bars are close together and that the door is completely locking. Some bird owners have their bird’s wings clipped to tame them and keep them from flying away. That can put Tweety in a precarious situation if the cage is not secure.

-If your cat insists on stalking or jumping at the cage, use a squirt bottle of water to let it know this behavior is unacceptable. Unlike Tweety who can give the taunting right back, your bird can become over-stressed with the constant taunting.  This can even lead to death, so it is important to inhibit this behavior with your cat.

-Always supervise when letting your bird out to play.  Larger birds, such as exotic parrots may intimidate your cat. However, it is better to be safe than sorry. Having a room that belongs to your bird for his flying adventures is a way to keep him away from the cat.

-If a cat were to scratch or bite at a bird, they can transfer a bacteria to the bird that causes osteoarthritis.  There is an 8 to 12 hour window before this damage occurs. Your vet will need to treat your bird with a tetracycline derivative.

-The best type of birds to have co-habitate with your cat do not need a lot of out of cage interaction. Birds bought in pairs and using a large sturdy cage will help to discourage your cat from toying with them.

Once your cat realizes that your bird is just one more member of the family, they will likely leave it alone. (unlike Tweety and Sylvester!) Enjoy the purrs and chirps!