Dear Green Gato #8 – This One’s For The Birds

African Grey Parrot And CatDear Green Gato,

I have quite a predicament. I have a darling cat named Jesse, and a sweet dog named Ralph. Jesse and Ralph get along great and tend to act like brothers, rather than cat and dog. Ralph is an old hound, and Jesse is a silly 3-year old orange boy cat. They cuddle, they play, and nothing seems to get out of hand. Now, on to my problem. One of my best friends has a pet cockatoo. They will be out of the country for three months, and need someone to take care of their bird.

Rocko, the cockatoo, sleeps most of the day while he’s in his cage with the blanket over it, and I certainly wouldn’t mind taking care of him while my friend is out of town. However, he does tend to get quite chatty and definitely craves human interaction. My question is; do you think that I could take care of Rocko for the three months without stressing all of my pets out? Have cats and birds ever gotten along? I don’t worry about Ralph, but I fear that Jesse wouldn’t leave Rocko alone. How can I help my friend out while maintaining a peaceful household?

Thanks for your help!

Greg T.

Dear Greg,

Your household sounds like you’ve reached true harmony with all of your pets. Having a cat and a dog that get along provides one of the cutest relationships in the animal kingdom. It’s a very nice gesture that you want to help your friend with their bird, and my answer to whether or not you can bird-sit while your friend is away depends on a few variables.

First of all, how big is your home? Could the bird be tucked away in a room that is inaccessible to your other pets? This will probably be the most important aspect to keeping a calm household. You’ll need enough space so that your cat and dog can have some time away from the bird, and vice versa. The bird will need privacy in case the other animals’ presence stresses him out. If Rocko has never experienced dogs and cats before, he may become extremely stressed out and would do better in a home without other pets for the time that his owner is out of town.

If you do decide to bring him into your home, the cage that Rocko is living in must be tough and sizeable. The cage must be strong enough to defend against any mammal attacks, and large enough that the bird can duck any intrusive paws or noses. The cage must be sturdy enough that your dog won’t be able to knock it over. Rocko must also be equipped with hiding spaces in the cage so that he doesn’t feel stressed about being exposed to the new beasts.

Since you’ll only be taking care of the bird for three months and not inviting Rocko into your home permanently, you may or may not want to go through the steps of introduction. This takes time, patience, and practice. The way that you would go about introducing your cat/dog and the bird would be similar to introducing cats, and introducing cats and dogs. However, to get your pets to get along can require up to a year of attention.

Do Ralph and Jesse seem like “chasers”? Does Jesse stare out the window and cackle at birds? Does Ralph go after every squirrel that he sees? If they seem to act this way, you’ll likely have to keep the bird in a separate room at all times while you’re bird-sitting. If your cat and dog seem chill and more human-motivated, you may be able to introduce the bird quickly and safely. Still, you should never allow the bird outside of his cage without your supervision.

If they do seem to get along, never let your cat or dog lick the bird. This could cause infection. Almost any dog and cat can be trained to get along with birds, and yours are no different. They sound like peacemakers, based on the fact that they get along so well, so I wouldn’t worry about it. It is important, however, that you do have an extra room to keep Rocko in, just in case they don’t get along to the point that it is stressing the household out.

You may want to set up an initial meeting and see if your friend can bring Rocko over for a test-run. With patience, a spacious household, and an agreeable cat and dog, you can certainly bird-sit for your friend. Best of luck, and just remember that your pet’s safety is the #1 priority!

-GG

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