So, you want a pet parrot. You aren't alone -- pet birds rank 3rd as the most popular pets in the world behind cats and dogs. But what if you already own a cat, a dog, or both? Can a parrot learn to get along with other animals that are already established pets in a household? Read on to learn more about integrating a pet parrot into a home that already has pets.
Is It Safe to Mix Parrots with Other Animals?
The short answer is, not really.
Common household pets like cats and dogs are naturally predatory creatures. In the wild, parrots and other birds fall beneath them on the food chain, so it is likely in most homes that the same rules would apply. This is not to say that there aren't hundreds of households who successfully keep birds with cats and dogs, because there are. However, in most of these situations, the pet owners have special circumstances that allow them to supervise their animals properly and ensure that there are no opportunities for a cat or dog to harm their bird. Perhaps they work from home or don't work at all, or perhaps the way their home is designed allows them to make sure that their birds are kept separate from their other pets. When deciding whether or not to adopt birds into a home with existing pets, it's important to consider whether or not you have the time and space necessary to make sure that interactions between the animals are kept to an absolute minimum.
In addition to the dangers posed to birds by predatory animals, there is also the risk of zoonotic diseases that can be passed back and forth between cats, dogs, and birds. Birds are very fragile and sensitive creatures health-wise, and there are certain viruses and bacteria that could be fatal to them if they are kept in close quarters with other pets.
In fact, even being exposed to a single cat hair can cause illness in some birds. It is important for potential owners to consider these risks before adopting a bird into an already pet-filled home.
What If I Am Able to Supervise My Pets Constantly?
Being able to provide your pets constant supervision is a great way to cut down on the dangers to a bird in a multiple-pet household, but supervision does not equal love and attention. Pet birds, especially parrots, need lots of time to play and socialize with their owners in order to form an effective bond with them. If you are constantly having to keep an eye on each of your pets to make sure that they aren't going to hurt each other, are you really going to be able to set aside a couple of hours each day to focus your attention solely on your parrot? On the flipside, will your other pets feel neglected if you are spending too much time with the new bird? Many pet owners find that keeping multiple pets of different species causes them to be spread so thin that the quality of their relationships with each of the pets suffers. Even those who feel that they have more than enough love to give multiple pets can find that they don't have the time to give it.
There's nothing good about owning a pet that you can't have a meaningful relationship with. Ultimately, the decision is up to you, but it is advised that you think long and hard about these points and honestly ask yourself if you are up to the challenge.
If after considering these points you are still serious about adopting a pet parrot, talk with bird breeders in your area about their experiences keeping parrots with other animals. If you can, visit with people who live in multiple-pet households, and see how they manage their time and attention where the pets are concerned. In the end, you may find that you are one of the rare few who can find a happy balance within your home and successfully keep parrots with other pets, but if you are not, don't get discouraged. You can always go volunteer at a bird shelter or rescue if you crave some "parrot time", or join a local bird club and meet others who share your passion for parrots.
There is also nothing wrong with making plans to adopt a parrot in the future when there won't be other pets in the picture -- parrots are popular with people, and it looks like that's a fact that's here to stay!