I can't seem to find my username from when I first rescued Robirda from a city park (Robirda's a he, the name stuck), so I've created a new one.
Current situation: I've moved in with my partner, who has a very large, very determined, very intelligent cat. We were very concerned about this and we've given the bird his own room. We installed a five-foot-tall storm shutter on the outside of the door that's closed with hooks and eyes on the bottom and top. We keep the inner, solid door closed when we're not home, and the shutter closed and latched when we're in the next room.
We're also in and out of the bird's room all the time (the laundry's in there, the pet mice are also in there in the closet). I didn't want the bird to be shut up in a room and lonely as my experience with my old house was that he prefers when there's a lot of commotion and seems nervous and unhappy when it's quiet.
HOWEVER. Between the fact that his cage is now by a walkway and people are constantly walking close to it, and the fact that this monster cat is constantly nearby wandering around _looking_ at him, I don't think my bird is feeling very calm. There's a lot of screaming ACK ACK ACK ACK ACK (it's the sound right at the 39 second mark in this video: 30 Minutes Budgies Parakeets Singing, Chirping. Reduce stress blood pressure heart diseases Healing - YouTube ) when people walk past or are making weird sounds or he has to deal with the fact that the cat exists. It's not that I don't like the sound (it's no louder than the CHEEP! CHEEP! CHEEP! flock call that he makes when I'm out of the room, or worse, when I'm in the room but my PARTNER is audibly somewhere else ignoring the parakeet), it's that he seems really freaked out and it often takes me going into the room, shutting the door, and talking to him quietly for a while to calm him down. I'd like to make his life less scary! I'd also like to not fall back on giving him 100% one-on-one attention for twenty minutes when he freaks out because I feel like that sets up a weird incentive for him to be more freaked out.
Picture of the door below: my opinion is that while my partner's cat is strong he also weighs about 16 pounds and will not get through the door. I'm also working on discouraging the cat from camping out in front of the door licking his chops at my poor bird (with my partner's permission, there's a spray bottle involved).
Please excuse mess in the photo - the towels were an attempt to block view of the cat a little, and we're still visibly unpacking everywhere. So maybe the bird will be calmer when the house is calmer, too.
p.s. I don't want to sound too mean about this cat - I actually really love him, but he's a big old tomcat with an outdoor history, and if I were a budgie having him around would probably feel about like living in a horror movie...
Do you have any music/radio on in the room your budgie is currently in? If he's stressed silence is just going to make him more stressed.
I'd keep the solid door shut whether you are in or not. It will make him feel safer for certain. And it might help keep your cat away because he won't be able to see the bird. He'll know he's still there but seeing the movement will draw more attention.
I agree with Therm.
Your budgie is obviously stressed by the new environment and the cat.
Playing music in the room where the budgie is located will help soothe him to some degree.
If using the shutter door makes more sense than completely closing the solid door (due to air circulation, etc.) then I'd recommend permanently blocking the bottom portion of the shuttered door so that it is no longer "see through".
Perhaps nailing a piece of wood across the bottom of the door from the height of your shoulder down would block the cat's view but still allow you to see through the door if necessary.
The fact that the cat has an "outdoor history" means he is going to be especially predatory toward birds.
I definitely agree with the advice above. Despite the precautions you've already taken, Robirda still feels threatened and unsafe in his new environment. Taking some of the steps outlined above should help him feel more secure :thumbsup:
I also found and read the cats-and-bird sticky, which I should have done first. Luckily our avian vet was also very stern with us about how cats and birds are not going to discover the power of friendship - the solid door is shut and locked any time I've got the cage open including changing food.
The reason I have the door open to the shutter otherwise is because I was worried it would be too stressful for Robirda to be alone most of the time - when he can hear us but not see us he spends a lot of time yelling for us and a lot less time contentedly burbling. I don't understand budgie behavior very well as this is my first bird as an adult - is this excessive worry on my part? He's not hand-tame, so I try to go in and read to him/talk to him for a good portion of every evening, but otherwise most of his interaction with us is passive. But you are all correct that he's telling us very clearly that the situation is stressful, so I need to fix it.
Thank you for the suggestions - I used to play music for him and I'll start again. I'm going to buy some curtain fabric and make the bottom half of the door permanently opaque - due to the angles this should also mostly block the cat's ability to see the bird at all. After looking at this, I think I can also rearrange the living room so that the bird can see people but is further away from hallway movement.
Unexpected success: we started feeding the cat in a kong-type toy again and that's decreased his interest in the bird somewhat. Not enough that I'd ever trust him in the same room as the bird cage, but enough that he's not _so_ fascinated. I suspect that the cat also has a contrafreeloading drive. The bird isn't in any way wrong in his assessment of the situation!
Though I also think as a confounding factor the mice in their wheel sound very much like dripping water, so there might be some ACK that's actually because of that, which he'll probably get used to over time. (We actually brought the mouse cage out and showed him the mice running in the hope that he'd make the connection and know what's happening - he was super interested and spent about thirty minutes climbing up and down corn-dogging his head and trying to figure out what was going on, but I don't know if he can associate that with the weird sound in the closet).
I'm glad you found the Cat and Bird sticky I linked for you helpful. :thumbup:
It sounds as though you are getting a good plan in place to help little Robirda have less stress in his life.
I'll be very interested in reading your updates on how things progress over time.
Robirda might also feel more comfortable if you cover part of the top and three sides of his cage while he settles into his new home. I usually use a sheet or something else smooth (so that they are less likely to get their little claws stuck in the material).
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