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Wed Dec 26, 2012, 04:46 PM

Introducing my cat to my husband's birds

I just got married and will be moving into my husband's place late spring or summer. I'm going to be taking some classes for several months starting next year and we both work full time, plus we both have things to get rid of before consolidating, so that's our realistic timeline.

I have a 14 year old cat Max. He has finches and 5 "big guys" (African grey, cockatoo, macaw, conure, and a cockatiel). My husband's main concern is Max aggravating the birds, and possibly getting on top of their cages. We're also worried about him peeing everywhere out of discontent. He's an audiophile and has pretty nice equipment that unfortunately wasn't designed to absorb cat urine. He's had dogs and rabbits in the past, and the birds don't seem to mind other pets. Max has always been an only pet, so we're not sure how he's going to handle it.

He has a 2nd bedroom with bathroom that's mostly for storage, so my plan is to have Max's box in that spare bathroom and have that bedroom be mostly "his" room with his food and climbing post. My husband thinks that in a worst case scenario, we can shut Max in that bedroom while we're at work since he'll have food, water, and litterbox, but I really don't want to do that.

Does anyone have experience with introducing cats to birds? Would it be a good idea to take him over to visit a few times before moving in? Max is due for his rabies booster in a few months, so I'm going to check with my vet while I'm there and see if she has ideas. Thanks for any suggestions!

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Reply Introducing my cat to my husband's birds (Original post)
lizerdbits Dec 2012 OP
Ino Dec 2012 #1
TorchTheWitch Dec 2012 #2
avebury Dec 2012 #3
Sunlei Dec 2012 #4
lizerdbits Dec 2012 #5

Response to lizerdbits (Original post)

Wed Dec 26, 2012, 07:13 PM

1. General thoughts...

Not knowing much about your cat's personality, but many cats moving to a new house, living with a new person (your husband), new sounds & smells, are happy being shut in a room by themselves at first. He will feel safe and secure there, and can be introduced slowly to the rest of the house when you're around to monitor things and head off any problems.

I don't know a lot about birds, but I think the big guys can pretty much take care of themselves! Unless Max is a very confident hunter, one loud screech or peck from them will probably cure him of his curiosity. Maybe the finches can be positioned near the larger guys for protection?

I did care for someone's African Grey several times while they were vacationing, and my 4 cats (all avid mousers) wouldn't go near his cage.

Visits... I wouldn't put my cats through the stress of being taken back & forth on multiple visits to a strange place, but maybe Max enjoys traveling and new situations

How will Max handle not being an only pet: I don't think my cats would view birds as "pets" like themselves, any more than they'd be jealous of a fish. Prey, kittie TV, toys, intensely interesting or annoyingly loud things... yes. But they would not react with jealousy like they would if I introduced a new cat or dog or something they had to compete with for food or a favorite cushion.

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Response to lizerdbits (Original post)

Thu Dec 27, 2012, 12:51 AM

2. wouldn't it make more sense for the birds to be in that spare room?

They're in cages after all, so what would it matter to them what room they were in? Since cats aren't confined like birds are then the cat could roam around the house like normal. Then the cat could be introduced to the birds and see how it goes

You could also hang the small birds' cages from the ceiling. I had to do that with my cockatiel when I got the dog so he couldn't get at her. It worked out really well. She liked being up high near the ceiling (birds seem to feel safer up high). SHe also liked tormenting the dog by throwing her birdseed shells at him every chance she got. After awhile I finally figured out it was a game they liked to play with each other once or twice a day for a few minutes.


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Response to TorchTheWitch (Reply #2)

Thu Dec 27, 2012, 06:35 AM

3. If the birds are really social with their owner

I would be concerned about shutting them away in a room away from people. Some birds are very social and don't do well when isolated.

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Response to lizerdbits (Original post)

Thu Dec 27, 2012, 07:44 PM

4. I've had cats and birds together.

The large birds (I have amazon parrots) the cats never harmed that I noticed. However, a couple times a cat would have a 'can opener' shaped wound on a paw. Thats a hard amazon parrot bite, so I guess a cat put a paw in the cage. Your boy friends larger birds can bite a paw right off the cat.

I also had several small finches and they were terrified of the cats. I ended up having a bird room when the cats killed a cage of strawberry finches. I came home to a house full of feathers and just pieces of birds inside the cage. They must have slipped paws through the bars and clawed out what they could.

In your case with one cat it's a good idea to have a seperate room for the cat, especially if you think the cat may pee in the house or has ever went in the house. You could have the cat out when you supervise and are home. The bird owner I'm sure lets his parrots out of their cage daily. At those times it's never good to have a cat around.

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Response to lizerdbits (Original post)

Thu Dec 27, 2012, 08:59 PM

5. Thanks for the advice!

We can't put the birds in the 2nd bedroom. The 2nd floor is just bedrooms and they would get no interaction with him/us since most of the time we'll be on the 1st floor in the kitchen/living room. It's nice to know about the big scratches on cat paws. I didn't think about that, though I know they can give serious bites. The big birds do come out daily, so we'll probably have to shut Max in for that. And we'll be careful with the finches.

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