Cats are predators who view birds, especially small ones, as potential prey to hunt and chase. This means your kitty and parakeet are not exactly ideal companions for each other. Fortunately, with some careful supervision and safety precautions, your feathered and furry companions can coexist, at least somewhat peacefully.
Kitties are excellent predators with the reflexes, jumping ability and claws to catch their prey. To prevent your little budgie from becoming a snack or toy for your furry feline, keep him in a cage hung from the ceiling where your kitty can't reach him. Keep his door firmly shut so he can't escape from the cage, and add some spaces inside the cage for him to hide from your kitty's constant stare, PetPlace recommends. Branches or even a nesting box make great places for your birdie to hang out, away from view of your furry buddy. To truly ensure the safety of your feathered friend when you aren't around, it's best to keep your kitty out of the room containing his cage, if possible.
Prior to any meetings, engage your kitty in some play to tire her out so she'll be less likely to pester your bird. Keep her nails trimmed for the safety of the bird in case she tries to swat at him with her paws. One wrong swipe could seriously injure your feathered friend. Avoid using catnip-containing toys to play with your kitty prior to meeting with your birdie. Catnip could make her act more hyperactive than usual and possibly more likely to chase your bird, according to VetInfo.
Prior to showing your kitty your bird, rub a towel on the little budgie and gather a few of his molted feathers. Let your feline companion smell the items with the birdie's scent. Give her a few treats after she smells the items to associate the bird with a reward in her mind. During the initial face-to-face introductions between your kitty and parakeet, keep your birdie in his cage for his own safety. Keep meetings short, for a few minutes at a time. When your kitty reacts with a bit of curiosity about the bird or simply indifference, give her some treats. Do the same with your birdie -- give him a a treat seed stick in his cage just before you bring in your kitty.
Out of the Cage
Once your kitty isn't trying to madly get to your caged birdie to chase him around, you may try to let your birdie loose. Keep the treats for your kitty ready and give them to her if she sits calmly while your parakeet flies around the room or walks if he's been clipped. It's OK if your furry buddy wants to smell the bird, but if she reaches for him or makes any indication that she wants to bite him, sternly tell her "no." If she doesn't stop trying to bother your bird, end the session without punishing her -- you don't want her to associate the bird with punishment. Keep trying the in-person meetings until your kitty remains consistently calm in the presence of your feathered resident.
Cats and birds are natural enemies, but a young parakeet and a baby kitten are easier to socialize with each other than older pets. Some even grow up together to be close friends. No matter what, when no one is around to supervise your pets together, it's best to separate them into their own parts of your home. Your kitty, even if she doesn't mean to, could end up trying to play roughly with your birdie and accidentally injure him, which could be fatal to a small parakeet. As in the case of your kitty, discourage any aggression from your bird's end as well, such as nibbling or biting your furry friend's ears, toes or tail in a way that seems to bother her. This could incite a defensive swat or bite from your kitty, potentially fatal for your feathered buddy.
Based in Las Vegas, Susan Paretts has been writing since 1998. She writes about many subjects including pets, finances, crafts, food, home improvement, shopping and going green. Her articles, short stories and reviews have appeared on City National Bank's website and on The Noseprint. Paretts holds a Master of Professional Writing from the University of Southern California.