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What to do when your cat attacks a bird... and doesn't kill it.

We have an eight year old cat who we got as a stray about six years ago. The vet reckoned she was about two when we got her and we did all the right things and got her spayed and vaccinated and all that stuff. She loves people and no matter where you are in the house or garden, she will not be far away. She really good with kids and will put up with the squishiest cuddles and a far bit of toddler tail fascination before bolting out the door to escape. She is well fed (despite the look she is giving me and the empty bowl below...) but not fat - but still the  urge to hunt and subsequently kill still seems to be quite strong.

Last weekend, she pounced out of nowhere on a rainbow lorrikeet - thankfully my husband and a band of teenage boys were also there and managed to grab the bird before the cat had done more than pounce. Now we have a slightly mangled still alive but obviously unwell bird on our hands - what do you do?

Here's what we did...

We found a box - popped an old towel in the bottom and place him (her?) in there and then covered the top with another old towel and placed the whole thing in the laundry so he could have some peace and quiet. I understand shock is what kills most cat attacked birds in the first instance. I propped him in an upright position with a couple of old tea towels - it just seemed like a logical thing to do - I've never seen a bird lie on its side in the wild - or in a cage for that matter.

The little fella survived the night but seemed to have only one leg that worked and couldn't stand up by itself. It was chirping a bit and gave the occasional fluff of the feathers. I held it very gently and offered some plain water from a tiny container and he drank some. He lost interest after five or six sips. I offered him water every fifteen to twenty minutes and he would take some more and then lose interest. I'm guessing they have pretty small bellies! I gave him some water with a bit a raw sugar in it as well on later water offerings and he seemed to like it. The vet said because he is a nectar eater that it was an ok thing to do but not to go overboard on the sugar. I dissolved one teaspoon of raw sugar in about two tablespoons of cold water.

I called a friend who is a wildlife carer and he said to take all cat attacked birds to the vet. Cats have bacteria in their mouths and can infect the little fellas who won't survive without antibiotics. I called the vet and discovered that in Brisbane at least (not sure about the rest of Australia) that if you find injured native wildlife and can get it to the vet - they will fix (or euthanase) it for free. There is no charge to take native animals to the vet. So if the cat gets a bird, pop it in a box and get it to the vet asap. Our is going to call us after the weekend and let us know how he is going!

We also have a wildlife ambulance in our area who probably would have come and got it and taken it to the vet if we couldn't. 

Kookaburra - really sharp beak. He is a meat eater. The blue on his wings tell me its a Queensland Kookaburra.

Male King Parrot (the girls are all green) Seed eater and capable of a decent nip.

Crimson Rosella ( the blue rosella is on the logo of Arnotts biscuits!) Again, a seed eater with a strong beak!

Pied Kurrawong (not a magpie) meat eater and pretty strong and agressive.

Galahs - These guys are a reasonable sized bird and are probably able to take a decent chunk out of your finger - be very careful with an injured galah.

If you see an injured animal - at least in the Brisbane area - your local council will probably have wildlife rescue service that is run by volunteers. if you are at all unsure of what you are dealing with, especially if it is a goanna, snake or possum, give them a call and let them deal with it. Far better than being bitten or scaring the animal so badly that you kill it with shock chasing it around the backyard. Call the vet or the wildlife ambulace on your mobile or walky house phone and follow the animal at a distance so you can direct the wildlife people to it when they arrive - Good Luck!
Score card:
Green-ness: Very, very green to save native animals - not so green to own the predators...
Frugal-ness: No cost but the petrol to the vet.
Time cost: Not a lot - as long as you have already caught the animal and your vet isn't far away otherwise it may take 1/2 the morning...
Skill level: None required except the one that stops you from getting bitten or scratched by a frightened animal... Use a towel to throw over the animal and scoop it up and keep it in the dark (but able to breathe!)
Fun -ness: Awesome - if it lives... Not so much if it doesn't - but at least you tried.


Anonymous said…
you can not assume that it dies of shock because that is too simple an answer to say. it must also get antibiotics which vets often do not bother to do. the put them down so do not take the bird to the vet but call the London wildlife team called London wildlife protection asap. we have a no kill policy and we will get the bird flying again.
Kitty Lane said…
What if he mauls the bird and then scratches up your hand? Do people catch blood-borne bird parasites that way?
Anonymous said…
I'm worried because I saw my cat with a bird in his mouth and saw the bird flap its wings and then I rushed and got the bird free but there was a cut on the head and body and it was sick twice (at least I think it was sick) so I put it somewhere and it managed to fly a bit further a way but i don't know if it will survive... ��
Kernow Kenny said…
Yesterday our cat brought a small bird indoors - managed to free the bird and it flapped and flew towards the window then came down on the ledge - and flapped/flew/ran behind the sofa. I opened the patio doors so the bird could get out if it wanted and after a couple of hours I checked and it was still there. I coaxed it out and it flew straight out of the door and into a nearby tree. In the evening I went out into the garden and there was the dead bird on the ground below the tree. It got me into thinking why after a couple of hours in semi darkness behind the sofa to recover from shock, then a short flight to freedom, why should it suddenly die?
Anonymous said…
Kernow Kenny, the bird could have died from a number of things.
The saliva from animals like cats and dogs, even humans, is toxic to birds, so the possibility of infection in any wounds made by the cat are quite high. Blood loss in birds is also very dangerous, as they're only so little and can only lose so much blood before it's too much for their little bodies. Sick/injured birds also need to be kept warm because their body temperature tends to drop to a dangerous level, so if it was cold out where you live, in addition to possible high blood loss and infection, it's unfortunately not all that surprising the poor little guy didn't make it :/
Anonymous said…
The situation can be avoided by keeping the cat inside! Please, for the sake of wildlife, keep your felines indoors!

Cats carry a lot of bacteria in their mouths and under their claws, and any bird whose skin is broken can die from systemic infection, regardless of how good it looks when you rescue it.
Anonymous said…
Kind of sickening that you’re ranking the level of “green-ness” for saving an animals life.
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