Is It Safe For My Cat To Eat A Bird?

Is It Safe For My Cat To Eat A Bird

Domestic cats just like all cats still have that instinct to hunt for prey despite being well-fed at home. Their favorite prey are birds and small mammals like rats and mice. However, there may be dangers associated with a cat hunting and eating these animals that live in the wild. 

Is it safe for my cat to eat a bird?

Yes, it is quite safe and natural for a cat to eat a bird, at least compared to rodents, although also birds can carry diseases that can make your cat sick. Eating birds can also irritate or damage their stomach. 

Cats that regularly kill and eat birds may experience vomiting, fever and weight loss.  If this happens, bring her to the vet for prompt evaluation and treatment. Cats can also catch internal and external parasites from infected birds. Common worms in birds that can affect cats include roundworms and tapeworms.  

Felines can also catch songbird fever. This condition is common in the United States and is caused by salmonella, a type of bacteria that is the common cause of food-related illnesses. Salmonella circulates in the US bird population and can sometimes cause large-scale infections. It spreads easily through contact and common among birds that frequent gardens with bird feeders and bird food. 

These are the symptoms of songbird fever:

  • vomiting
  • diarrhea 
  • anorexia or weight loss 
  • bloody stool 
  • dehydration 
  • high temperature 
  • lethargy and weakness; body malaise

Do cats eat birds or just kill them?

Yes, cats kill and eat birds but some cats will only play and toy with them while some will kill but eat them. This may also depend if the cat was hungry. 

Some cat owners attest that their cats will eat the intestines of the killed birds aside from other body parts but will avoid eating the gizzard. Felines like to partake of the remnants of a bird’s vegetable-based diet which they also need despite being carnivores which may explain why they like the intestines. 

Needless to say, cats are considered as the number one direct and human-caused threat to birds in the US. According to statistics at least 2.4 billion birds are killed annually by outdoor cats. Felines have also contributed to the extinction of more or less 63 species of birds, mammals and reptiles. 

The International Union for Conservation of Nature or IUCN lists domestic cats as one of the world’s worst non-native invasive species.

Is it good for indoor cats to watch birds?

Yes, watching birds is considered good for indoor cats.  It is an enjoyable, interactive and stimulating activity and pastime for kitties. You can let your cat watch and observe birds without having to inflict harm on them by placing a bird feeder outside the window where she usually hangs around. If you do not have big windows or you live in a high-rise building, you can let your cat watch videos of birds on a DVD or your computer. 

Do not be confused if you hear your cat chattering while watching birds since it is a normal reaction when felines spot their prey. Cat behaviorists note that it is also a cat’s way of expressing pent-up frustrations since they cannot catch the prey beyond their reach. 

Why do domestic cats eat birds?

Domestic cats eat birds because it is one of their favorite prey aside from small mammals like hamsters, rats and rabbits. Hunting for prey is instinctive for them despite being domesticated. One of the reasons why cats like to hunt and eat birds is that the birds’ movements are enticing for cats. Felines will eat most parts of birds except for the gizzard, large bones and feathers.

How do I get my cat to stop eating birds?

Here are the measures that you can do to stop your cat from eating birds:

  • keep your cat indoors as much as possible
  • put a Birdsbesafe collar on your cat so that birds can spot and avoid your cat 
  • spay and neuter your cat to keep their population under control and to make them less aggressive and less likely to fight and become injured 
  • install an in-ground electric fence if you allow your cat to go outside so she cannot venture far  

Final thoughts 

Cats are natural predators and they will hunt and kill prey such as birds if given the chance and if they have access to the outdoors. Eating an occasional bird is not overly dangerous for cats but if they are habitually doing that they have a high probability to contract disease and parasites.