Ask Lafeber

Question:

May 6, 2020

Cat vs. Conure


I am bringing home a conure in the near future and am trying to figure out whether or not I should trim it’s wings. I have a cat that stays inside and on one hand, birds are made to fly and my bird might be able to fly off if it’s flighted, but on the other hand, if it is trimmed, it wouldn’t be able to get close to the cat in the first place and I would be able to keep safer. If I do end up keeping it flighted are there any tricks or methods I could teach the bird or use to keep it safe and away from my cat


Answer:

Hi Kristen,

The only way to keep him safe is to have the cage somewhere that the cat can’t access it. Most house cats do not bother parrots because they generally do not move quickly and act like prey. But any type of fast fluttering can trigger that killing instinct in the cat. And sadly, domestic cats have enough natural instinct to kill, but not enough to only kill when they are hungry. So keeping the cat well fed doesn’t work. If your bird flies, it will attract the cat and will be in danger. If the bird is clipped, it will be in danger if it ends up on the floor and flutters or runs. You can’t teach the bird to be safe around the cat and you can’t teach the cat to leave the bird alone. It only takes one slip to have a tragedy – cats have natural bacteria in their mouth that is usually deadly to a bird if the cat breaks the skin. I’m not saying you can’t have both, but it is up to you to only have the bird out of the cage when you are supervising and the cat needs to be in a different room. A parrot is like having a toddler around – you should never leave a parrot out of the cage unattended because even a small parrot can get into a lot of trouble.

As far as whether to clip wings of not – this is going to depend on the bird and your household. If the bird can fly, this is good because it exercises the right muscles, but this can also be bad if there is any chance it can fly out an open door or window. You can also encounter a lot of behavior problems with a fully flighted bird. I’ve found it is best to start clipped until you have a bond with the bird and have taught it to step up . As the bird molts, some will start to fly and it won’t change anything. But some parrots become unmanageable when they can fly away from you. You can do flight training with most parrots. But again, it comes down to the bird’s personality.

Thank you for asking Lafeber,

Brenda

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