If your cat has eaten a bird, there may be several reasons why your cat is sick. They may vomit up feathers and bones, which are irritating their stomach. The bird may have been carrying a disease, which can affect your cat. If your cat is sick once, but is otherwise fine and continuing to eat and drink their own food normally, you should not need to take any action. However, if your cat has vomited several times, seems unwell or is not eating or drinking, then it’s best to have them checked by a vet.
It is unusual for cats to eat birds that they have not chased and killed, so they are unlikely to eat carrion (animals and birds that have been dead for a while). If a cat is sick from eating a bird, it is usually because the stomach has been irritated by the feathers and bones. However, if the vomiting is prolonged or your cat is lethargic or seems in pain, it may be due to more severe damage to the stomach, or if the bird was ill and may have passed an infectious disease on to your cat.
Cats are natural stalk and pounce predators, and chasing and catching small mammals and birds is very much in their instinct. Most domesticated cats will not eat what they catch, as they have a balanced diet provided by you. If your cat seems hungry and often eats what they kill, it’s a good idea to check their diet with a vet to make sure they’re getting everything they need in their regular food.
What To Do If My Cat Catches a Bird
If your cat catches a bird and the bird is alive, offer your cat their favourite treat as this may cause them to drop the bird. Do not pursue your cat, as they are likely to run away. If the bird is still alive, put it in a sheltered place outside, as it will be highly stressed. Bringing it indoors will likely cause further stress. Keep your cat away from the sheltered bird if possible – try enticing your cat inside with their own food or treats. If your cat has caught a bird and is eating it, again offer some tasty treats to encourage them away from the bird. Monitor your cat for any signs of illness.
Your cat may eat a bird with no ill effects. However, it is best to discourage this behaviour for several reasons. Firstly, the bird may be carrying a disease that could make your cat unwell. Secondly, eating a bird may irritate or damage their stomach. Thirdly, cats are a major reason for reduction in garden bird populations, and chasing and killing birds should be prevented where possible. If you have birds nesting in your garden, try to keep your cat indoors and only allow them outside when supervised – especially when the juvenile birds are fledging (learning to fly and leaving the nest).
Can Cats And Humans Catch Diseases From Birds?
Cats can catch parasites and diseases from catching wild birds. However, it’s unlikely that your cat will get sick from eating just one. If your cat experiences continual or frequent symptoms such as vomiting, losing weight or fever, then take it to the vet; otherwise, it is likely fine. If you want to stop your cat killing birds, keep it inside, walk it on a leash, build it a run to run around, or fit your cat with a special anti-hunting collar.Birds can carry diseases such as salmonella, bird flu and Chlamydophila, which causes a severe flu-like disease called psittacosis. These diseases can affect cats and even people. As such, a cat could catch those diseases from a bird and then pass them on to their owner. Always wear gloves and wash hands thoroughly when handling birds.
There are two ways in which a cat can get sick from eating a bird. The first is that it regurgitates the meal, which can occur for one of many reasons. Regurgitation is different to vomiting in that the food is undigested. It is regurgitated either from the esophagus or from the stomach, having only just got there. The second way is if your cat gets sick from eating the bird, i.e. if the bird is carrying parasites or diseases.
If your cat brings up its meal, that’s not necessarily because the meal was bad for it. There are several benign reasons why your cat might regurgitate or vomit up its meal:
Your cat isn’t a frequent hunter, so its stomach and gut are unused to eating whole birds.
Your cat ate the bird alongside its normal food, in which case it was too full, and regurgitated the food as a result.
Your cat ate the bird too fast. When the stomach expands too quickly, it can send a signal to the brain that it needs to regurgitate.
The bird’s stomach and gut contained lots of things that your cat can’t digest, so the whole meal was brought up.
Songbird Fever From Eating Birds?
Songbird fever is caused by salmonella. Salmonella circulates naturally in the U.S. bird population, with occasional periods of large-scale infection. The disease is spread through contact, so is common in birds that visit gardens with lots of bird feeders and bird food.
Songbird fever is when a cat eats a bird that is infected with salmonella. The cat can develop salmonellosis, i.e. salmonella infection, the common name of which is songbird fever. Since this condition is reasonably common, it has been described in many scientific journals, and symptoms include:
Weight loss (anorexia)
It is also possible for a cat to catch salmonellosis from eating raw meat. Left untreated, it can be fatal, so would require a vet’s visit.
Not all birds caught by cats will cause salmonellosis. You can tell whether it’s likely if there are lots of dead birds around the bird feeder in your yard. If you don’t know where your cat caught the bird, then only the symptoms above could suggest a case.
When To See a Vet?
If your cat has vomited several times, seems uncomfortable in their tummy or is lethargic and unwell, it is important to speak to a vet. The vet may advise feeding you cat some bland food, or advise that your cat needs to be seen, depending on the severity of symptoms and how long your cat has been unwell.