Cat vs. Bird: help me introduce a new pet

My parents bought my brother a parakeet for his birthday. I have a cat who has tried to attack birds kept in a cage as pets before. For the last few hours the cat’s been locked in my room (a preventative measure), but there must be a way to attain peaceful coexistence. (We also have a dog whose favorite pasttime is hunting birds in the yard, but she’s outside for the mostpart.)

Has anyone here successfully introduced a bird into a house full of predators? I don’t want an animal fight to start a war between P and me on whose pet “should” stay.* While we’re at it, do you have any advice about caring for the bird that isn’t found in the common parakeet-care book? Any advice you can give me is very much appreciated. :slight_smile:

*The brother would win and the cat would go to that special farm parents always talk about. Cat’s my baby, so you know I don’t want to see that happen.

Keep the cat distracted. Buy some gerbils.

On no account should you leave the cat alone in a room with the budgie. Cats have been known to act all mellow and disinterested – when there are humans in the room, yet attack the bird when left alone with it. Even if the cat can’t actually get at the budgie in its cage, the bird will likely be so traumatized and frightened by the experience as to be scarred for life.

Cats instinctively stalk and attack small critters with quick jerky movements, it’s what they’ve evolved to do. And quick jerky movements are the sum total of a parrakeet’s being.

You’re best bet is to keep them separated. I don’t think they’re going to be friends.

can the bird be kept in a room the cat can’t get into? the bird is already living in a cage, i’m sure a bedroom near windows for viewing will be a luxury.

My old roommate found a budgie (yup, flyin’ around Boston, must’ve escaped) and ended up keeping it when nobody claimed it. Trouble was, between my two roommates there were four cats. She ended up rigging a pully system so the birdcage hung out into the room from the ceiling. It was too far away from anything the cats could jump/climb from, but the bird was still out where people were.

Also, could you keep the room the bird is in closed? Seems like it would be better for the cat, who could at least have the rest of the house instead of just one room.

It was the greatest feat of animal behaviour modification that I’ve ever achieved. When my roommate brought home a little kitten, I was able to train the cat to not eat/attack my cockatiel. So it IS possible. Now the humane society may not particularly approve of the “punishment techniques” that I employed to get the message through to the cat, but they were ultimately effective.
Even after I could see the cat understood the situation (and would still snag wild birds on a regular basis), I did my best to make sure I was always in the room when the two were out. But the ultimate proof of the training was when I came into my room to see my bird sleeping on the back of my chair, and the cat sleeping on the seat of the chair.

It was a long and stressful process. And I was dealing with a kitten, so that might have worked in my favor. If I were to make any recommendations, I would say “immediate punishment”. That is, the second you see the cat paying a little too much attention, you have to pounce and let him know he’s out of line. Squirt gun, flying lessons, and just tossing out of the room seemed to work. I think my personal favorite was solitary confinement - putting the cat in the bird’s cage. And then letting the bird walk around freely.

Budgie’s can be a lot of fun. They have a lot of personality. I would guess that all he’s been eating has been seed. Seed is pretty much candy for parrots - both as far as how much they like them, and as far as nutritional value. So for starters, transition your brother’s bird to pellets any pellet is better than seed). Also make sure he gets fresh fruits and veggies. You can still give some seed as a treat, but just make sure it isn’t what is making up the majority of his diet.

One thing many books don’t mention is that parrots require a good, solid (undisturbed) night’s sleep. Covering is good, but also make sure he’s in a quiet room) for at least 8 hours - 10 is even better.

Thanks everyone for the suggestions so far. We might try the bird in one room thing in autumn, but P’s room is on the uppermost floor and it gets really hot during the day. Right now the bird is in the “art” (read: a giant collection of junk and storage) room, which is on a lower floor and much cooler; the cat’s out for a brief break. She was out last night while the bird was sleeping with the boys, but she needs social interaction as well as freedom to roam, IMHO. P understands that it wouldn’t be nice to Veena or fair to have her locked up all the time… especially because I suspect she doesn’t know there’s a new pet in the house; she might not know that lock-up isn’t a punishment (this time ;)). So, for now, the cat and the bird will split “house” time.

I’m pretty concerned about going on vacation in a bit less than two weeks. These people will need to remember that the cat is locked up (on the uppermost floor, too) during the day and will need to come out at night. Perhaps a daily phone call to, uh, spark the memory of somebody will work. We’ll have to call anyways, since the dog doesn’t meow. Or bark. Or whimper. Or do anything to indicate that food and/or water might be a nice treat. History has proven Rascal is remembered to be living here only every 2.5 days or so if my sister and I aren’t on top of it. :rolleyes:

Well, with enough training you might get harmony like this.

A squirt gun can be an effective training tool, if used properly. However, I don’t know if it would work well with an older cat that has firmly established hunting traits. One thing to do is make sure the cat does not see you using the squirt gun. It has to be a quick “If I do this, water falls on me from out of nowhere” effect. I think the best thing to do is to keep the cage well out of reach.

I lucked out with my cat. She never learned about hunting. When I got married, my wife brought along a number of birds. Marion (the cat) will lie on the floor peacefully while the birds hop along in front of her. She usually just stays away from the birds because one is pretty loud when spotting intruders (including me).