If you have a cat, you may think that a colorful, talking parrot would make an interesting addition to your family home. Unfortunately, cats and parrots don’t like each other. Cats are predators and parrots (all birds) are prey.
Your cat will want to attack or kill the parrot, and a parrot will be terrified of your house cat. You cannot change these natural instincts.
Never let your cat and parrot loose in the same room. If you do, keep them in separate rooms, and don’t let them loose at the same time. There are animals that get along with cats better than birds.
Can Cats and Parrots Get Along?
Cats and parrots will never get along. Cats hunt birds in the wild, and these hunting instincts are hardwired into all felines.
According to the Compendium on Continuing Education for the Practising Veterinarian, when a cat sees a bird, its hunting instincts kick in.
Even if your cat doesn’t want to attack your parrot at first, it will eventually kill the parrot. The urge for cats to attack and kill birds is irresistible.
Besides that, the bacteria in a cat’s mouth are extremely dangerous for birds. If any of the bacteria gets on your parrot, it can be lethal.
Do Cats Like Parrots?
Cats view parrots, and all small birds, as prey animals. This relationship is dictated by millions of years of cats’ evolution.
Your cat is very unlikely to become friends with a parrot because this history cannot be overcome. Even if it appears that your cat doesn’t care about your parrot, that would only be for the time being. When your cat eventually felt like it, it would attack the parrot in an instant.
It is possible that your cat will ignore your parrot. Cats are well known for acting aloof, as if they don’t care about things. If you’ve ever tried to play with a cat that isn’t interested in playing, you’ll know that.
But even if a cat acts aloof, it is still a natural predator. Even an older cat which is never aggressive has instincts, and these can kick in when you don’t expect them to. And predators don’t become friends with their prey.
Another option is that your cat may be scared of your parrot. Parrots can grow to be large. They can make loud noises, and give a painful bite. If you have a nervous cat, it may even be afraid of your parrot.
Do Cats Attack Parrots?
According to Smithsonian Magazine, cats will attack any small birds. If you left your cat and parrot loose in the same room, the cat would eventually launch an attack.
Your cat will do this both to regular wild birds and pet birds. You may also notice your cat sitting or lying down, watching the bird from a distance.
Its eyes will be opened wide, and its pupils dilated/enlarged. Its tail will wage from side to side incessantly. This shows that the cat is thinking about hunting the bird.
Cats can even attack parrots in their cages, if there’s a big enough gap to reach through with its paws.
Can Cats Kill Parrots?
A cat could kill a parrot. However, whether it will depend on several different factors:
- The size of the cat. A tiny kitten couldn’t kill an adult parrot.
- The size of the parrot. Parrots can get large, and so can fight back.
- The behavior of your cat. Some house cats like to hunt, but not to kill. That’s why sometimes the cat will catch its prey but then paw it back and forth, playing with it, rather than killing it.
- Whether you have a nervous cat. A nervous cat may be scared by a parrot’s loud squawking and painful bite.
But it’s likely that a cat will kill a parrot. A cat bites its prey’s neck and twists it in an effort to break it. Parrots, while big, are delicate creatures.
Do Parrots Like Cats?
Parrots are scared of cats. Birds recognize that they are prey to animals like cats. So, if they see cats, their instincts tell them to be very careful. If the cats are close enough, the birds’ instincts will tell them to fly away.
According to PNAS, birds’ evolutionary history is shorter than many other kinds of animals. But many different species are hunted by cats and similar animals. They share similar instincts which you cannot train it away.
Even if your parrot has never encountered a cat before, its instincts will kick in. Through more exposure, your cat’s aggressive and predatorial behaviors will further encourage your parrot not to trust your cat.
How to Introduce a Parrot to a Cat
It’s far better to introduce the pair in a safe and controlled environment. Here’s how to do that:
1) Don’t Let Your Parrot Out of Its Cage
You can have your parrot and cat in the same room. But you can’t let your parrot out of its cage. That’s because your two pets will never get along well, and the cat could try to hunt the bird.
Instead, leave your parrot in its cage. Watch your cat’s behavior. Your cat may either stare at the parrot, act nervously, or avoid it altogether. But whatever its reaction, don’t think that it’s safe to let your parrot out.
This applies whether you’ve had the two pets a long time, or only introduced them today. Never let your two pets loose in the same room.
2) Keep Your Parrot’s Cage Up High
On top of not letting your parrot out, keep its cage somewhere your cat can’t reach it. If it gets the chance, your cat will try to get close to the cage. It’s looking for a way to get to the parrot, its prey, somehow.
It may even try to reach a paw inside your bird’s cage, too, if there’s a big enough gap. It will bat at the parrot if it does get its paw inside the cage.
If you allow these things, it makes it more likely that your cat will attack your parrot. It also causes exceptional stress for your parrot, which can’t escape from the cage it’s kept in. But keeping the cage high up on an inaccessible surface will prevent this from happening.
Even if your cat doesn’t attack, this is still a problem. That’s because a cat’s saliva is toxic to a bird. Because cats can drool, their saliva can spread easily. Even residual saliva on cat fur can trigger a reaction in your parrot.
How to Stop a Cat from Attacking a Parrot
To stop your cat attacking your parrot, you have to train it. While cats can’t be easily trained like other household pets, it can be done.
You have to use negative stimuli to encourage your cat to leave your parrot alone. All animals with developed brains can learn in this way. If you repeatedly associate a behavior with a negative stimulus, then it will stop.
You can never entirely curb your cat’s instincts. But you can discourage it from certain behaviors, e.g. sitting near your parrot’s cage and staring.
Use Loud Noises
No animal likes loud noises. They trigger the fight-or-flight response, because a loud noise could be a predator or an environmental threat.
So, if you ever notice your cat doing something you don’t want it to do, you can use loud noises to stop it.
The benefit is that negative behavior immediately stops. The cat is frightened, so it will jump or run away. It will, at least, stop what it’s doing.
Over time, your cat will associate its behavior with the negative stimulus. So, it should do these things less. You can create loud noises by:
- Throwing your keys somewhere nearby your cat, or using a similar loud, jangly object
- Loudly saying ‘No!’
- Clapping your hands
Be careful not to excessively frighten your cat. Don’t throw any objects near your cat, and don’t throw them too hard either.
What Cat Breeds Get Along with Parrots?
If you already have a parrot, but want a cat, you may think that there’s a particular breed that is less likely to attack. Cat breeds are highly variable in behavior and temperament, so this idea makes sense.
Unfortunately, there is no cat breed which is ‘good’ for living with parrots. All cat breeds react to birds in exactly the same way. This includes both pure breeds and mixed breed (moggy) cats.
While cat breeds are different, they all have the same common ancestor species. So, they have the same instincts. Every cat, no matter the breed and size, will view birds as prey animals.