Cats are predators, natural hunters, having a pet cat typically means your pet birds may be at risk. The good news is that you may be able to train a kitten not to bother your pet birds but if you have a mature cat, bringing home a pet bird could be a problem.
Secure the Cage
Above all you will want to make sure your bird has a secure cage. Kittens, and especially more mature cats, will launch themselves at a cage and can easily knock it down. Although you will be working with your cat so it does not show interest in the bird there is no guarantee of success so it is up to you to guarantee the bird is relatively safe. Bigger cages offer more security and are better for birds in general.
Type of Bird
Certain birds are more likely to get a cat's interest. Small, flighty birds, such as finches are sure to get your cat's attention where as a larger bird such as a parrot might cause your cat to pause. Of course the bigger, nut eating, birds such as parrots have very hard bites and are pretty capable of teaching the cat to stay back.
People have been able to have cats tolerate budgies, doves, toucans, and so forth quite well, but finches are often always at risk, even if the cat is good with other birds.
©by author - my cat and chickens
Training Your Cat to Ignore Your Pet Bird
You will need cat treats (cut as small as possible so your cat does not get fat), and a spray bottle for water set on “jet” or “spray”, rather than “mist”.
Again, it is better to start with a kitten, if you already have an adult cat you can still work with it to discourage its interest in your bird. If you are thinking of getting a new cat, and have pet birds, either select a kitten, or try to adopt a cat that has been around birds and is fairly good with them.
When you first introduce the cat to the caged bird, offer it treats to keep its attention on you as much as possible. Of course it will be interested in the bird and you do have to let it see the bird but keep rewarding it to indicate that when it “ignores” the bird, it gets a reward.
If the cat becomes too interested in the bird, to the point of attacking the cage, you must spray the cat with water. Most birds rather enjoy a bit of water so if the bird does get a bit wet it is not too much of a concern but your goal is to spray the cat.
The trick is to only spray the cat when it is bothering the bird, you cannot chase it around the house afterwards spraying it as punishment as the cat will not associate this with the bird at all, and will mostly think you have gone off your rocker.
Be consistent. Reward the cat frequently when ignoring the bird, and be alter and ready to spray it if it bothers the bird. If it is simply sitting nice and not bothering the bird, but is looking at it, you can reward it with a treat.
Remember that the cat can stress the bird. Never leave your cat and bird alone together unsupervised. Birds are social animals and do best in central locations of the home but if you cannot keep the cat away from the bird you might want to keep the bird in another room when the cat is loose in the house and cannot be supervised.
There is no guarantee that you will be able to have your cat and bird be “pals” so always have a plan ready in case things do not go as well as planned.
What about Declawing the Cat?
Some people might think that declawing their cat is a good idea, however you must remember cats kill with their mouth so declawing the cat might not solve anything.