Do you have a budgie and cat and you’re worried about how to keep your budgie safe from your cat?
In this article, we’ll go over what you need to know before buying or putting together a new set-up for either your cat or your budgie. We’ll also share some tips on how best to care for them both so they can live happily at home together.
Cats and budgies both fall into the top 3 most popular pets to have around the WORLD! Simply on numbers alone, a budgie owner is likely to end up with a cat.
Or a cat owner is likely to end up with a budgie. And both of these animals have quite a long life expectancy so it would be in every beings’ best interest to go into this Tweety and Sylvester scenario well prepared.
Before we get into physical barriers to keep your budgie safe from your cat, let’s first take a look at a domestic cat’s hunting behaviour so we can understand their instincts.
Why do cat's hunt budgies?
Your cat’s natural instinct is to hunt anything that is moving around them in a fast motion. Cats tend to have a preference for birds or mice, but most of the time they will take what they can get.
Cats will also chase things because it’s fun and they do like to play, so they might catch a small animal and play with it until it’s lifeless and then move on to the next thing. They never actually wanted to eat it.
Cats will also be motivated to search for prey in their environment and hunt when they are hungry. However, this is only part of the reason.
Because a cat hunts alone and has a hunting success rate of an estimated 50%, a cat cannot wait until it’s hungry to hunt as it could starve to death.
Domestic cats have become opportunistic by nature and will therefore hunt anything that they can, to ensure that there will always be a food source for its survival.
Can you stop your cat from hunting your budgie?
Unfortunately, this is something you cannot do. Hunting is part of the makeup of a cat. Even our precious pet cats who have been domesticated over thousands of years.
Hunting is instinctual for cats. But they also hunt to show that they belong in the family, and often do so by bringing you their kill as a trophy–seeking your approval and acceptance.
Studies show that feral cats, who have no reliable meal source, hunt for approximately 12 hours per day, while a domesticated house cat will hunt for no more than 3 hours per day. This is because your house cat has a constant source of food.
Even domestic cats who are well-fed have been known to go and hunt immediately after eating. One reason is that cats enjoy eating different foods and their taste buds prefer variety.
Can your cat and budgie be best friends?
If you do a Google search you are likely to see several cat and budgie videos where these two animals are getting along well and there are no signs of danger present. Like the adorable video below of a budgie waking up his friend the cat so he can have a play.
These occurrences are rare so please do not assume that your sweet kitty is going to lie down and allow this new, bright budgie to take a leisurely stroll over its back.
It COULD happen, but in all honesty, it is highly unlikely, and it is almost certain to end in a flurry of feathers if your cat has been in the household for some time and you try to introduce a new budgie to the family.
When you decide to have a cat and a budgie together in the same household, you need to set realistic expectations of your animals and not just cross your fingers and hope it all works out.
If you already have a budgie and would like to get a cat, then get a young kitten, as young as you can, and socialise the kitten and the budgie from day one.
Always put your budgies safety first
There are a few simple things that you can do to ensure your bird’s safety.
- Make sure that the cage locks. In case your cat does leap at the cage and it does fall over, you don’t want the door to pop open and a super-charged game of tag to go down in your living room.
- Try to put the budgie cage out of reach of your cat. Don’t place the cage next to anything that your cat could climb up on and be at the same level. Your poor budgie will be so stressed when it sees the cat next to its cage!
- Have a stronger, sturdy cage on legs and wheels, or even an indoor aviary, that cannot be knocked over easily.
- Alternatively you can suspend the cage from the ceiling so your cat doesn’t have access to it.
- Make sure that the bars of the cage are too narrow for your bird to get his paw inside. One swipe from the cat’s paw could injure your bird, or even a simple scratch can kill your budgie due to the bacteria that the cat is carrying. If your cat does manage to get a swipe t your budgie even if you can’t see anything, it is best to take your budgie to your avian vet and have him checked out properly.
Show your cat that your budgies are part of the family
If you have the budget and space, the best thing is to have an outdoor aviary to avoid your cat and budgies being on top of one another.
If your garden is not large enough, it is advisable to keep your budgies indoors in an area that can be locked especially at night while you are sleeping, and cannot monitor the cat-bird interaction.
If you do want to try and get your cat used to your budgies, always supervise the visit and do not let the budgies out of the cage to fly around the room. This will get your cat excited and ready to play (hunt).
Start by holding your cat firmly and taking it with you to the cage and let your cat watch you feed the budgie. Don’t be surprised if your budgie gets very stressed and flaps around the first few times.
After a while, both the cat and budgie will realise you are the master of both and they will become calmer.
However, if your cat is ever lurking around the cage and looks very interested in the contents, give a loud ‘No!’ and teach your cat the boundaries.
Some people buy water pistols and fill them with a solution of water and vinegar or lemon juice. Again, you’ll need to put in the effort and be prepared to spray your cat when he goes near to the cage and either your yelling or the constant drenching will teach him to leave your budgies alone.
The younger the cat or kitten the easier it will be to teach them the rules, if your cat is already a few years old then it will be a long journey reprogramming his little cat mind.
Treat your animals with respect and never tease a cat with small birds as this will teach him that chasing after small birds ie. your budgies, is acceptable.
Prepare your home and family for your cat and your budgie
Your budgie is going to naturally be afraid of other pets, your dogs and cats. Even if they do seem to get along, never risk it.
When you are going to give your budgie free-flight time, lock the cat out of the room so that your budgie can safely fly around without the fear of becoming the afternoon snack.
NEVER LEAVE YOUR BUDGIE AND CAT IN THE SAME ROOM UNATTENDED!
In summary, you can help stop your cat from attacking your budgie by doing the following:
- Ensure that your cat doesn’t go hungry during the day
- Provide your cat with a variety of different foods
- Show your cat that your budgies are part of the family
- Spend time with your cat so he does not get jealous over the attention that the budgies receive.
- Purchase water pistols and squirt your cat when it goes near your budgie
Cats and budgies can co-exist peacefully in the same house. However, you are going to have to be smart about it and put various measures in place. If you have children in your house, teach them the rules so that they are not allowing the cat to play with the birdcage.
Don’t risk your budgies’ lives because you ‘think’ that your cat won’t do anything. Rather be proactive and show all of your pets love by acting to keep them all safe.