Feathered and Furry Friends

Can cats coexist peacefully with birds, reptiles and rodents?

By Susan Easterly

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Can kittens view pet birds, rodents and reptiles natural prey in the feline world as housemates and possibly friends? "You see some great photographs [of species interaction] out there and wonderful stories told, but I can also tell you some horror stories," said veterinary ethologist and author Myrna Milani, DVM.

She and other experts warn that you should never trust a cat alone with these animals. Keep in mind that a cat's appetite is stimulated first by sound, second by motion, third by odor, fourth by texture and last by taste, Milani said.

"If your kitten tries to stalk your bird, keep the bird caged and out of reach," said author and professional pet sitter Karen Commings. "If the kitten pays no attention to the bird, you can let the bird out of the cage in the kitten's presence, but only under your supervision."

Don't give your cat toys made with feathers and fur if you share your home with pet birds, mice or rabbits. "Toys are a prey substitute for cats who, besides having fun playing, use them to learn valuable survival skills like hunting and attacking," she said.

While it is not always the case, Commings noted that large birds, such as macaws or Amazon parrots, generally have the upper wing when dealing with kittens and cats. "One of my customers, in addition to four large cats, has a room with other pets, including assorted birds. One is an Amazon parrot who is never caged," she said. "The cats often come to the open door of that room and look in, but they won't enter because Burr, the parrot, will dive-bomb them."
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Reader Comments

Noelle    Beecher, IL

1/31/2008 4:36:19 PM

Interesting article with lots of good advice. Thanks CC for always giving us the best cat news!

Laurie    Erie, PA

1/31/2008 4:07:40 PM

A couple of my friends have both cats and birds, and some w/ dogs too, and there never seems to be a problem, so It is possible.

Angela    Hamburg, NY

1/31/2008 3:55:33 PM

I have a little bird and a kitty and kitty has never shown any intrest in the bird but he does like toys with feathers.

Michelle    Apple Valley, CA

1/31/2008 8:51:15 AM


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