Cats and birds: questions for cat owners

Yep, when Eponine’s snuck outside, she’s killed birds. And for some reason the little booger always wants to kill cardinals, which are the state bird both here and back home. So my cat is a criminal. She’s caught snakes outdoors, too. Dr.J’s old apartment had mice, and Maggie would catch and kill them (even without front claws, we think maybe she smothered them with her bulk). Of course, once they were dead she was at something of a loss, so she’d stand there and bellow till someone came and praised her and disposed of it for her.

It’s entirely possible. My cat was indoors until I moved into a house with two dogs. The dogs have a doggy door and a fenced-in yard and it only took about two weeks for my cat to figure out how the door worked. Now she prowls outside quite a bit, and I wouldn’t be surprised if she killed birds along the way.

Sounds reasonable, but I like cats. I hate birds.

Not in North America, or Europe, or Asia, or Australia, or South America it wasn’t (nor in Antarctica or various islands, but I think you get the point). There it was NO housecats-wild birds. Housecats are an exotic species almost everywhere, and their numbers can seriously alter an ecosystem.

My answers:
Have your cats ever killed a bird/birds?
No: they’re indoor-only cats. They’ve chirped furiously at birds flying around in our yard, though.

Do your cats display hunting instincts even when well-fed? (E.g., will your well-fed cat still go after a mouse?)

Our cats are the world’s biggest cowards: they spent about half an hour terrified of a cricket, once, even though they outnumbered the cricked two-to-one. However, one cat will occasionally kill the hell out of my chair leg while I’m eating dinner. If there were a mouse in the house, they’d probably drop dead from terror.

However, I know from previous cats i’ve owned that it’s all about what Mama taught them as kittens. If they learned as kittens to kill and eat prey, then that instinct is pretty well developed, and no matter how much cat chow they get, they’ll continue to exercise that behavior.

Do you agree that feral cats are a threat to wild birds?

Absolutely. The sky is blue, water is wet, and feral cats threaten wild birds.

If you also own a pet bird, does your cat display a malicious interest in the bird (a la Sylvester and Tweety)?



Yes, my cats eat birds. I’ve seen no reason to believe they wait until they’re hungry to do it.

Individual feral cats are unquestionably a threat to individual wild birds. On a population level, I believe that the fact that people build roads and houses and replace native vegetation with non-native landscape species has a far greater impact on bird populations than the introduction of feral cats into an area.

We just moved to our new house, and my boy has been insane to get outside - he hates it when doors are shut because he thinks he’s missing something. He’s been crying at windows and doors, so I got him a harness and leash made for a toy dog. Put the harness on him, went out onto the back porch - then he freaked out and ran back towards the door.

He’s gotten out twice when I lived with my parents - and lost - I ended up finding him terrified either under a wheelbarrow or in a sewer. He was okay both times, just extremely shaken up. So if he’s going out, I’d rather he’s on a leash with one of us at all times.

Any advice on how to get him used to the harness? He doesn’t seem to mind the harness as much once it’s on, but he doesn’t seem to get WHY he’s wearing it.


I don’t have time to read the rest of the replies so apologies if I’m just repeating things already said.

I will preface my answer by admitting I also do feral cat TNR so I may be biased. :wink:
Have your cats ever killed a bird/birds?

Yes. I have a male who is a great slaughterer of starlings. The other three of my cats are indoor only and couldn’t care less about the birds outside. Spiders are a whole other story…

Do your cats display hunting instincts even when well-fed?

Yes. My male is well fed but that doesn’t stop him from trying to eradicate the European Starling from alighting on our property. Sure wish he’d get the ones that nest in our attic. (Thanks to the holes pecked by flickers.)

Do you agree that feral cats are a threat to wild birds?

Yes. They’re also a threat to rodents as well. I think that housing developments are also a threat to wild birds too. My feral cats (all trapped, neutered, released & I maintain the colony) will bring me prezzies often and with one exception of a baby quail, the rest of the treats bestowed upon me have been mice and pocket gophers.

I have noticed that in the last couple of years since I started taking care of these feral cats, the population of the quail and pheasants has skyrocketed. The cats seem to be depending more on me for food and spend more time sunbathing instead of breeding like mad and having to feed their kittens.

If you also own a pet bird, does your cat display a malicious interest in the bird (a la Sylvester and Tweety)?

I used to have finches. The male would watch them, the other cats couldn’t care less.

I also used to have rats and lizards who were happily treated as tolerated companions by my cats. My agama would happily ride my old Siamese cat around the house. My rats would curl up with her and sleep.

Have your cats ever killed a bird/birds?
A previous cat once brought me a cold bundle of feathers, but as he wasn’t exactly a skilled hunter, I think it was very likely that he found it.
One of the current cats once came to the window with a shrieking, fluttering mouthful of bird. He knocked frantically to be let in, but was eventually forced to lay aside his prize in preparation for a no-holds-barred assault on the house. He attempted to hand off the bird to his dumber brother, who was watching him with admiration and awe, but dumb brother goofed it, and the bird flew away.
Do your cats display hunting instincts even when well-fed? (E.g., will your well-fed cat still go after a mouse?)

Do you agree that feral cats are a threat to wild birds? Sure, they probably are.

If you also own a pet bird, does your cat display a malicious interest in the bird (a la Sylvester and Tweety)?

I’ve told the only bird stories I’ve got. What the cats actually bring are grasshopper parts and butterfly wings. On a few very special occasions, I have received a mouse or a shrew. Then there was that one time I got that…thing…that I’m fairly sure was a bunny face. But birds…not so much.

I’ve seen several posters use this line of reasoning here and in other threads, but it mystifies me. How is that different from saying “Sure, DDT is a threat to birds, but so is habitat loss, so why worry about DDT?”

I think we should attempt to address all threats to wild bird populations, including feral cats.

That doesn’t follow either, based on what I’m seeing. It seems that cats hunt whether they’re fed or not.

Also, well-fed animals of any species tend to breed more, not less. No offense, but I think feeding feral cats is a bad idea, because it is likely to result in more feral cats.

There’s an organization called Alley Cat Allies that is all about their Trap-Neuter-Return program. These are animals that will never be anyone’s pet, but as long as they are neutered, you can feed them forever and they can’t make more feral cats.

As for hunting birds, how many birds can one cat kill without making a dent in the wild bird population? There are zillions of birds, and they can go anywhere!

In my experience, cats don’t just kill adult birds, they go after nestlings and fledglings, too. Taking out birds before they get to breeding age can do a lot of damage. And birds can’t “go anywhere.” They have nests to tend.

If they’re fixed, they can’t breed. That was my point. Any newcomers to the colony are trapped as soon as possible.

Sorry. I missed the part where you’d trapped and neutered them. :smack:

I also work in TNR - all of our cats are vaccinated and sterilized before being accepted into a colony. I just can’t see putting a healthy cat to sleep for being homeless.

Mine hasn’t, but I caught my last cat(deceased now) beating the crap out of a mouse he caught. Kicked the thing about like a hacky sack for five minutes until it expired, then ate it.

Apparently one of my current cats was seen attacking a baby mole, and My mother says one of her cats captured a bird and presented it to her(which then flew away when the cat removed its paw from the bird).

Pretty much.

I assume so, assuming they can get close enough. That’s the trick, though, since my cat has been outrun by squrrils.

I have an indoor-outdoor cat that adopted me about thirteen years ago. She currently lives with my parents. For all her time outdoors, she’s never shown any inclination to hunt. I’ve never seen her stalking anything, and the only time she’s played with anything, it was the body of a sparrow fledgling that had fallen out of its nest. She is, however, a strange and unique cat.