Tweety consistently escaped the clutches of Sylvester in cartoons, but making sure that your pet bird won't became a cat's prey is no laughing matter. A bird needs a safe space where he doesn't need to fear becoming a carnivore's dinner; otherwise, expect stress-induced behaviors such as feather plucking from his inability to flee a threatening situation.
Larger parrots can live in cages with up to 1 inch of space between the bars. This is enough room for a crafty cat to slip in a paw and claws, though kitty could get a snap from a large hook-bill for doing so as a confident parrot won't like his personal space invaded. A more timid bird, though, will be tormented by a cat consistently working his paws into the cage, with claws that can swipe at tail feathers or otherwise injure a bird. Buy a large cage with appropriate maximum bar spacing for your species of bird; wide spacing between bars for a small bird can both increase the chance of a paw getting into the cage and heighten the risk of your bird escaping the cage into the cat's domain, potentially hurting himself in the process.
Out of Reach
Keeping a cage out of a cat's reach can be tricky, but you want a stable living quarters where the feline can't swipe at the cage or tip it over. Suspend a small cage from a ceiling hook, ensuring that the wire frame of the cage is securely attached to the base, that the hanging mechanism is securely attached to the cage and that the ceiling hook is strong enough to take the weight of the cage. Pedestal stands can hang a canary-size cage at eye level, but can be tipped over by a determined cat. Choose a steady stand, such as a welded cage with a four-legged base. If you put a cage on a desk or counter for height, a cat will try to hop up alongside it; if you perch it on top of a bookcase, don't be surprised to see a feline try to scale the shelves. Ensure there are no pounce launching pads within range such as the back of a couch.
A secure latch isn't just about whether a clever cat can work its paw into the mechanism and let himself into the front door. If a latch holding the cage door closed isn't secure, or if the door simply slides closed and a bird can hoist it with his beak and squeeze through, the bird not only risks injury with an escape attempt but then is loose on the outside with the cat. Depending on whether your bird's wings are clipped, once away from the cage he may not be able to get away from a cat's paws. Make sure that a cage door is securely shut to keep the cats out and the birds in. Make sure all access doors are secure in addition to the main gate.
If the area around the cage isn't a place where kitty wants to be, your bird will be safer and more comfortable. If your cat keeps putting his paws up on the leg of a sturdy cage stand, try some of the sticky sheets intended to keep cats from clawing the side of the sofa. Vet Street recommends using an overturned plastic mat with the nubs used to grip carpet sticking upward to keep a cat out of the area beneath the birdcage; this can serve double duty as the mat catches seed hulls falling to the floor. Aluminum foil is another uncomfortable surface for cats' paws. You also can use natural citrus aromas such as orange and lemon peels around the base of the cage; do not spray aerosols of these scents around your bird. Cats will turn up their noses at the smell and not stick around.
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