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does anyone have advice for cat owners who want to own a parrot?

Tuono

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Hi, I live in a house with two cats and 6 people (including myself) at the moment. I plan to get a bird in the near future, (probably around late January, early February of 2016), and my top options for my future bird is either an Indian Ringneck, or and African Grey. My dad seems much happier with the idea of having an African Grey, most likely because he used to own one when he lived in England and because it wouldn't be too small for our cats to want to kill. He also likes the idea that it can learn the most, out of all parrots. This would be MY first time owning a bird. I have put lots and lots of research into african greys and taking care of parrots, etc. I also know that my town's animal hospital has a bird doctor there who has many bird patients a lot of the time. Now, I'm wondering if there is any advice or tips I can get for when I get my bird.
I'm wondering how or if I should introduce my bird to my two cats?
(My cats are indoor and outdoor cats, and their breeds are Snow Bengal and Ruddy Abyssinian)
Oh yeah, another thing to mention is that the Bengal sometimes likes to go in my room, which is where I want to keep my bird cage.
Another thing is that usually I am home, except for when I am at school, and my school starts from 7:40 to 3:00 (although I like to get there by 7:10ish)
During the time when I am at school, what should I do for my parrot?
 

pinkdagger

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Have a room completely off limit to the cats. No matter the size of a bird, a curious cat paw can reach its way into a cage (even those hanging cages aren't safe) and a claw can nick a bird. This can end up being deadly to a bird of any size or species.

There are some people who claim they're fine with having their cats and dogs living in the same area as their parrots safely without incident, and it's important to note that this is just based on their experience. Always err on the side of safety. Also, if there's a den area or something where the bird can get more socialization when you're not home, that may be better than a bedroom, especially since this is sounding like a family pet that your dad would like to help with too. Something else to keep in mind about having a Grey in a bedroom is that they're very dusty, so you may want to make sure the room is well ventilated and look into air purifiers to help with air quality, both for your sake and your bird's sake.

Some people will also say the cats and bird should never meet, which I also believe is a recipe for trouble. If they were never able to see each other and there was an emergency where for some reason, the cats and birds had to be in the same room, they would go into fight or flight mode. There are more chances to get injured if the animals don't know how to appropriately react to each other. I think cats can be in the same room as a caged bird with the strict supervision of at least one person and with boundaries set, like to stay outside of a perimeter of the bird cage. Encourage indifference between the animals so if they're around each other, they can fight that instinct and just not care about each other.

Both cat breeds you have are very smart and need to stay occupied, and they're high energy too - this is something really important to consider. The more playful, the more energetic, the more hunterly these cats are, the more diligent you need to be in ensuring doors are closed and that all animals are receiving adequate attention. Since you're still in school, also consider the future of this bird. What happens when you move away from home? When you get a job, part time or full time? What kind of career job are you looking at, and does it require long hours away from home or lots of travel? Would the bird go with you or stay with your family? If you end up being too busy to keep a bird that's going to live 50 years, are family members willing to keep the bird? This is where your dad's experience plays in well, as long as he wants to have a Grey of his own again.

I have one cat, but was living with someone who had his own cat too. They're both energetic and love to play, so the birds always caught their attention. The birds live in the office, where I spend most of my day - when they're awake. The cat is allowed in only with my supervision and only when I can devote 110% of my attention to the cat. I actually bought a harness and leash to put on her when she's in here and she has an area that is "safe" for her to be in. Since cats like having a place to lie, I have a towel on the floor and she's allowed to sit behind the bird cages. She's not allowed underneath or beside them, and if she starts to show interest with tail whipping, chattering, or pupil dilating, she has to leave the room. She gets treats for leaving the room, but nothing for coming in - it's a privilege for her as long as she can behave.
 

painesgrey

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it wouldn't be too small for our cats to want to kill.

Don't let the size difference lull you into a false sense of security. A cat can and will attack larger birds if given the opportunity. I've personally seen a cat effortlessly take down a wood pigeon, which is roughly the same size as an African grey.

I'm wondering how or if I should introduce my bird to my two cats?
There is no way to "introduce" a bird to cats in the way you would introduce a cat or a dog to another cat. How each animal reacts to the other depends heavily on the individual animal. Some cats could care less, other cats will stop at nothing to get a good look at the potential meal. Given that you have a Bengal, I imagine your cat is going to be far more interested than your bird will be comfortable with, so you're going to need to keep the bird in a room where the cat has zero unsupervised access.
 

Doublete

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I think the Bengal will have a strong predator/prey drive... You'll have to be careful as the size won't stop them from wanting to go after the bird. I wouldn't allow access to the bird unless you are there and NEVER put the bird somewhere the cat can reach it easily.
 

JLcribber

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If you have no bird experience, the chance of an accident go way up just because you don't know what to expect.

The cats were there first. That is their claimed territory. They are not conditioned to birds at all. They are a pair. All these things are huge redflags.

The only way for the bird to be truly safe is a separate environment.
 

Tyrion

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I have cats and birds ...I put the cats away in a bed room while the birds are out ...other then that they seem ..the cats.. not to care about the birds ...now when I Tiels the cats were more interested in them when they were caged ...just watch them closely and if your cats seem interested then you have a problem ...my cats are older as well so maybe that's why they don't care as much..just make sure your on the cats if they go around the cage to often and the bird gets upset :)
 

Bokkapooh

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I dont have much to add but perhaps you should look at the Cage thread where members here share pictures of their parrots environment/cage and play areas.

African greys are pretty big parrots so they need BIG cage and playareas, and toys and enrichment. This can be very pricey. Have you thought about this?
 

Begone

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During the time when I am at school, what should I do for my parrot?
I think you should wait until you at least finish school. And as long as you have a cat and must keep them in different room you should have two parrots, not one.
And as Mercedez says, they are expensive to have, will always cost you a lot of money and they also get sick and must see an Avian vet, and not a regular vet.
I'm so happy that I not was getting a parrot when I was young. They are demanding, and you will have big problems going on vacations.
 

Mizzely

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First of all, the African Grey does not have any more capacity to learn than any other parrot species :) And a cat can DEFINITELY kill one!

My cats stay in my bedroom or the basement while the birds are out of their cages. They do not have access to the cages. When the birds go to bed, the cats are allowed access to the rest of the house. When we leave the house, the birds are in a room inaccessible to the cats.

I would like to point out that I have a 14 year old tabby who is afraid of birds, and a 6 year old tortie that has shown no interest in them. They are both indoor only. It only takes a moment for something bad to happen, and with a Bengal, I would NEVER allow any interaction, supervised or not. The fact that your cats also go outside means that they likely chase the neighborhood birds, meaning they don't know they are off limits (if they were inclined to adhere to limits, that is).
 

rockybird

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I personally would not get a bird at this stage in your life, given you are still in school and you have free roaming cats. Wait until you are out of the house and settled. Parrots are a huge expensive responsibility and you really need to think this through for the long run, ie the life of the bird. Once you have the bird, you are as responsible for it as if it were your child, except this child will be with you for 30+ years. And this child will never grow up. If you buy one, you should make the commitment to the bird for its life, not because you think right now it would be a fun idea. Also, vet bills can be extremely expensive. Just having a general wellness check can cost a couple hundred dollars. Are your parents willing to rush it to the vet in case of an emergency? Will you have a reserve vet fund? Do you have several hundred dollars for cage and toys? Do you have the space for a large cage? Will the bird be shut up in your bedroom while you socialize with the rest of the house with your family? Remember that these are flock animals and are very social. To deprive it of this is abusive. Then there is the question as to what will happen to the bird when you finish school and leave the house? If you think there is even the smallest most minute risk that your cats will get to the bird, than you should do the right thing and wait until you are able to provide a safe, nurturing environment for such an intelligent and social animal.
 

Laurul Feather Cat

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I have a dedicated birdroom where the cats and the dog are forbidden entry. Some of my cats I had before I had a birdroom and those cats remember being bitten by the birds through the cage bars and are not interested in the birds. My more recent cats are rescued ferals and get really, really excited about the sound of flapping wings. I know those seven cats would have no problem killing any one of my birds.

That is the reason I have a birdroom. It is the only way to make sure my birds are safe. The other reason I never allow the cats and dog in the birdroom is the fact birds are prey animals, constantly hunted, killed and eaten in their wild habitats. I feel it is cruel to allow a caged bird to be stared at and tormented by a natural predator (cat and dog).
 

BirdCatLady

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I have a cat, Daniel (almost 7-year-old neutered mixed tiger, suspecting some Maine Coon in his lineage), and a 13 year old CAG, Brodie. When I adopted Brodie this past October, I knew he was coming from a home where he was used to cats and dogs (but they never interacted). My Daniel is absolutely terrified of Brodie, which was one of the factors I took into consideration when I decided to adopt Brodie (who is, BTW, my first bird). Brodie just has to look at Daniel and he'll run away and hide under the bed.

That being said, Daniel and Brodie never, ever interact. (I'd honestly be more worried about Daniel getting hurt than Brodie, but even still, there's really no safe way for birds and cats to interact -- and Brodie could also get injured as well, you never know.) They're in the same room from time to time but they're under supervision when that happens. Daniel rarely hangs out in the living room where Brodie's cage is, and Brodie rarely hangs out anywhere else and again, never without supervision.

I would agree with those who have suggested putting off adopting a parrot until you're out of school, older, and more settled. I've finished my schooling (just got my Master's), and while my husband is still working on his degree -- and while we'll probably be moving to a new area within the next 2-3 years -- we're fairly settled, can afford vet visits/toys/food, etc., and have the time to put in to socialize with him.

Just my $0.02. I think it's great that you want to adopt a bird, but I do think that putting it off for another few years might be the best approach, both for you as well as your future fid. :)
 

aooratrix

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I have 2 bengals who don't act wild at all. The breeder does a superb job selecting for health and temperament. They are domestic cats that are VERY athletic, active, and with a wild paint job. However, I NEVER get the birds out until the cats are upstairs behind a firmly closed door. I don't think anything would happen, but it could, which would be my fault, so I err on the side of caution.
 

Raa

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I have a big derpy ragdoll x burmese rescue. He flips between completely uninterested and terrified of Echo. She's in the main room of the house (open plan) and he will walk past her if we are talking to her to acess the back bedroom. Otherwise he just hangs in our bedroom/loungeroom and avoids her. It will just depend on the cat and the bird.

A parrot like a kakariki that behaves in an insecure (prey) manner will be more likely to trigger a cats instincts. A friend of mine had a Kakariki and her cat wanted to eat it so bad. She ended up having to rehome him for other reasons (he was a viscious littke snot and I had a friend with an aviary of them) and she got some lorikeets. The cat has no interest in them... These birds actually sit on him and beat him up.
 

Jaguar

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My mom had a 'zon when I was younger. He was rehomed due to extreme aggression to me (whom was very young at the time). He was then eaten by his new owner's cat.

So, yeah, a cat can easily take down a bird that size.

If you have high prey drive cats, the bird(s) will need a separate room.
 

Marcella

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Have a room completely off limit to the cats. No matter the size of a bird, a curious cat paw can reach its way into a cage (even those hanging cages aren't safe) and a claw can nick a bird. This can end up being deadly to a bird of any size or species.

There are some people who claim they're fine with having their cats and dogs living in the same area as their parrots safely without incident, and it's important to note that this is just based on their experience. Always err on the side of safety. Also, if there's a den area or something where the bird can get more socialization when you're not home, that may be better than a bedroom, especially since this is sounding like a family pet that your dad would like to help with too. Something else to keep in mind about having a Grey in a bedroom is that they're very dusty, so you may want to make sure the room is well ventilated and look into air purifiers to help with air quality, both for your sake and your bird's sake.

Some people will also say the cats and bird should never meet, which I also believe is a recipe for trouble. If they were never able to see each other and there was an emergency where for some reason, the cats and birds had to be in the same room, they would go into fight or flight mode. There are more chances to get injured if the animals don't know how to appropriately react to each other. I think cats can be in the same room as a caged bird with the strict supervision of at least one person and with boundaries set, like to stay outside of a perimeter of the bird cage. Encourage indifference between the animals so if they're around each other, they can fight that instinct and just not care about each other.

Both cat breeds you have are very smart and need to stay occupied, and they're high energy too - this is something really important to consider. The more playful, the more energetic, the more hunterly these cats are, the more diligent you need to be in ensuring doors are closed and that all animals are receiving adequate attention. Since you're still in school, also consider the future of this bird. What happens when you move away from home? When you get a job, part time or full time? What kind of career job are you looking at, and does it require long hours away from home or lots of travel? Would the bird go with you or stay with your family? If you end up being too busy to keep a bird that's going to live 50 years, are family members willing to keep the bird? This is where your dad's experience plays in well, as long as he wants to have a Grey of his own again.

I have one cat, but was living with someone who had his own cat too. They're both energetic and love to play, so the birds always caught their attention. The birds live in the office, where I spend most of my day - when they're awake. The cat is allowed in only with my supervision and only when I can devote 110% of my attention to the cat. I actually bought a harness and leash to put on her when she's in here and she has an area that is "safe" for her to be in. Since cats like having a place to lie, I have a towel on the floor and she's allowed to sit behind the bird cages. She's not allowed underneath or beside them, and if she starts to show interest with tail whipping, chattering, or pupil dilating, she has to leave the room. She gets treats for leaving the room, but nothing for coming in - it's a privilege for her as long as she can behave.
 

Marcella

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I understand you wanting a parrot. But, I also see quite a few large red flags.
Firstly, let me say, I had a caique. He lived in the same house with 4 rescue cats. My cats are plain old domestic cats, they just needed homes and don't go outside at all. Their breeding lineage is so muddled, they have hardly any "wild" instincts left (apart from destroying my furniture with their claws :extremeanger:. When I brought my caique home, I did not introduce him to the cats. The cats were mildly interested for a few weeks, and that was that.
My caique was fully flighted, but that didn't mean he could escape a quick swipe of a cat's claws. When Kiki (my caique) was out of his cage, he was always supervised - At. All. Times. - much as you would supervise a toddler at a park playground.
Eventually, my cats became scared of Kiki. But I never trusted my cats for one nano-second.
You have a Bengal (not familiar with the breed) and another cat who both go outdoors. They are conditioned to hunt. That's probably what they do anyhow when they're outside. Crouch down, behind a bush, tail swishing around, focused on their unsuspecting prey and ready to pounce on any unfortunate bird that happens to find a tasty treat on the ground. Bird, Mouse, Rat - they don't care: in this case, size really doesn't matter.

Red flag #2 - (sorry to be such a Debbie Downer) - your bedroom is not a place that is conducive to housing a bird that is as socially needy as an African Grey. While they are typically shy birds, the love to observe the goings on in the household. Have you thought about how your Grey would feel when you are in school. He would be in his cage, by himself, no human interaction. Ask yourself if you would like to live like this? Would you enjoy being locked up behind bars for 8 hours a day? I doubt it. Your future bird will hate it even more.

Kudos - for doing research! But, clearly you have not done enough. After all your research, you should know that Greys are flock birds. In the wild they live in flocks of hundreds, oftentimes even more. By taking a Grey, or another other parrot, under your "wing", you are automatically designated as his/her flock. So, you will be at school 8 hours a day, obviously doing homework and assignments as well. You are going, to parties, friends will also take your time. How much time, and be honest with yourself, do you think you will be able to spend time with your future bird on a daily basis? Probably not enough.

The other side of the coin - some of the most well-adjusted Greys belong to young adults. They drag them around everywhere so the birds become slowly de-sensitized to their surroundings. But this is a gradual and thoughtful process. Are you mature enough to understand this?

Finally - who is going to do all the boring work? The drudgery of daily cage cleaning? Greys are super dusty and their environment needs constant cleaning and monitoring. Do you like to prepare and shop for food. Your bird will need an abundance of fresh veggies, bean mashes, birdie bread...(not just pellets, and certainly not seed).. Have you done your research on nutritional requirements?

Do yourself and your future bird a favour, do some more research. Possibly you looked into all the "cool" things about Greys and Ringnecks. Intelligence, vocal ability, ability to train tricks...all the fun stuff. Your research must include the cons of owning one of these birds. Both for your sake and the sake of your bird. Too many parrots are given up because the owners did not realize what an enormous commitment it is so care for them: both physically and psychologically. :justdont:

This is your first bird. My first bird was a parakeet - a budgie. I know what you may be thinking: not flash, won't impress my friends, not big enough. But, my little Babette was a charmer! She learned how to talk: "girls coming home from school!", "go do your homework", "mummy do groceries" and many other phrases. She loved running up and down my arm for a shower when I was washing veggies. Also budgies are very quick fliers and rarely explore what is on the ground - if she tries, you can train her that she is not allowed on the floor.

This scenario will give you some idea of what a companion parrot needs. Budgies are generally more independent and won't mind chilling out while you're at school. But, they still need all the things a bigger parrot does: you still have to keep the cage super clean, she needs a few toys (no mirrors, pls), healthy food: read a veggie chop, pellets and millet as a special training treat.

Okay, I will :chillout: now, just give some thought to other opinions that have been voiced. Forewarned is forearmed. I am sorry if I have rained on your parade, not my intention, but this is a decision that has to though through carefully.. If you decide on a Grey, that bird will be your responsibility for decades to come.

Are you ready to get married and have a baby? If not, don't get a Grey or Ringneck. Just my two cents worth.
 

Lisidou

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Grady, my precious White Cap Pi was actually my daughters. She brought home a stray cat and then another kitten soon afterwards. Grady had been used to being the queen of that 1 BR apartment and it just wasn't working well. Daughter knew Grady was unhappy being caged more and also having to "share" what time daughter had on weekends and after work. She did the right thing and let me have her. Since Grady is really bonded to me anyway it is the best thing. Daughter put the birds safety, well being and happiness first and I am so proud of her for that. I was always so worried that one mistake would cost that sweet bird her life so this is much much better.
 

Marcella

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Grady, my precious White Cap Pi was actually my daughters. She brought home a stray cat and then another kitten soon afterwards. Grady had been used to being the queen of that 1 BR apartment and it just wasn't working well. Daughter knew Grady was unhappy being caged more and also having to "share" what time daughter had on weekends and after work. She did the right thing and let me have her. Since Grady is really bonded to me anyway it is the best thing. Daughter put the birds safety, well being and happiness first and I am so proud of her for that. I was always so worried that one mistake would cost that sweet bird her life so this is much much better.
You did a superb job in raising your daughter! What a mature young lady! Lucky you for having Grady in your life now!
 
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