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What do you do when your cat brings home a baby bird?

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My cat, Penny, is quite a huntress.  She has brought home birds, mice, a baby rabbit, cicadas, frogs, toads, an earthworm, butterflies, a dragonfly, and an occasional slug.  Penny has even caught a squirrel before, which is quite an accomplishment considering the fact that she can't use her front claws (her previous owner had the nerve-endings in her claws cut out).  I don't care about the mice & other critters, but the baby birds and baby rabbits break my heart.

Each year a bird is dumb enough to build a nest nearby & sure enough, Penny will find it & clear it out in a matter of days.  You'd think the birds would learn that there's a predator near by, but apparently it hasn't sunk in yet.  Anyway, this morning she brought home a baby bird.  It was still alive and unharmed, so I picked it up with a papertowel & put in a safe spot.  Then an hour later, the cat brought home another baby bird taken from the same nest--it was still alive & unharmed as well.  I put both baby birds in a small plastic container lined with papertowels & put it in the branches of the tree where the nest is located.  I didn't touch either bird except with a papertowel & the mama bird must've known where her babies were because she kept cheeping & flittering around near there.  She must have even fed them because when I got home from work late in the evening, there were purple spots on the papertowels that hadn't been there before.  *sigh*...the poor babies probably won't last through the night though. 

Is there anything that can be done when a baby bird falls from the nest or is brought home by your cat? 

15 Replies (last)

What about putting a bell on the cat if its an outside cat?  Then at least some of the animals will have some warning and might escape her.

Aww your supposed to praise her! She's bringing you presents!

You can't change animal nature, she's a cat!

It's dangerous to let your cat out without the ability to use it's front paws. Sure it's doing ok with prey, but against another cat it could get seriously injured.

All this cat talk is makin me want to go seek out mine for a cuddle. She's a crotchety fat auld thing, and I think given half the chance she'd murder me in my sleep, so I like tp pick her up and cradle her like a baby every now and again to remind her who's boss.

Can I just ask why anyone would do that to their cat? the whole cutting it's nerves thing?

I hope this information below helps you out!  As a child I used to attempt rescue missions for animals a lot. :) My father always just ' knew ' what to do in any event. It wasn't until he passed... I actually had to find this site below to determine what to do about a baby rabbit.  ( As an adult rescue mission nonetheless. ) It helped me to save a baby rabbit though. Yay! <3 People usually like to argue over whether or not you could save baby birds. Blah: I just agree to disagree because I've seen it done on multiple occasions. . . My father knew how to save animals,Lol. He showed/helped me on many missions together. As well as told me when to step back and leave it alone. We only had one failed rescue mission in my childhood. A baby kitten that was abandoned in our garage. :(  We did everything we possibly could but to no avail. Sadly. Best of Luck!

Article: Helping Animals Source-

Determine if the animal really needs help! If you see a young animal, it is important to resist the temptation to interfere unless the animal is clearly sick, hurt, orphaned, or in immediate danger—you may do more harm than good by removing a young animal from his or her parents. Young animals’ best chance of survival is in the care of their parents!

If immediate action is deemed necessary, the following are some steps that you can take to help.

Nestling Songbirds

  • It is not true that parent birds will reject or kill their babies because a human has touched them. Fallen nestlings—babies with no feathers, a little fuzz, or pinfeathers—can be returned to the nest if they aren’t injured or very weak. You may need to drop a small towel gently over them and lift them carefully to the nest. If you don’t have a towel, rub your hands in some dirt, then pick the babies up and put them in the nest.
  • Parents of nestlings will continue to feed their young if the nest has been disturbed or moved as long as it is left undisturbed and safe and near its original site. Mother birds usually feed their babies every five minutes or so, and it is extremely rare for a mother bird to be away from the nest for more than 15 minutes. Watch quietly from a distance for several hours; take nestlings only if it is clear that they have been abandoned or are injured or in immediate danger from cats or other animals.
  • If you either can’t see or can’t reach the original nest, you can make a surrogate home for nestlings out of a small basket, kitchen strainer or small plastic container with holes punched in the bottom. Line it with shredded tissue paper—don’t use cotton, grass, hay, straw (they can cause respiratory problems), or old birds’ nests (which can contain parasites). Hang it in a sheltered place close to the original location—no farther than 5 feet, if possible. Get out of sight and watch to make sure the parents return.
  • If nestlings cannot be put in such a substitute nest or returned to their original nest or if their parents don’t return, they need a soft, snug, cup-shaped container, such as a margarine tub. Warm chilled babies in your hands, then put them in the tissue-nest container, and put that on a heating pad (low setting) or under a light. Do not let nestlings get too hot! If they stretch out and pant, reduce the heat immediately. Put the nest in a larger, well-ventilated box (make small holes in it if necessary) and place the box in a warm, quiet, safe place.
  • Handle the birds only when necessary. What they need most is warmth, quiet, darkness, and nutrition. Checking on them too often (which is a great temptation!) subjects them to avoidable stress. Never allow children to play with them!

Fledgling Songbirds

  • Fledglings—young birds who are mostly feathered and learning to fly—can be moved a short distance to a tree or dense shrub to keep them safe from traffic and cats. Fledglings’ parents are usually close by so never attempt to rescue fledglings unless they are in immediate danger; their parents are the best ones to teach them to survive in the wild.
  • If fledglings must be rescued, they need safe, roomy cages with sticks from the yard as perches, fastened securely. A cardboard box with sticks fastened through it and a screen cover will do in a pinch. Fledglings don’t usually need extra warmth, but they do need quiet.
  • Fledglings will probably be much more fearful of you at first than nestlings, so as with nestlings, fledglings should be handled as little as possible. Do not give liquid to fledglings—it can do more harm than good.


  • Cottontail rabbits make their nests in small depressions in the grass. The nests are lined with fur from the mother and loosely covered with grass. They are frequently disturbed by people when they are mowing their grass or raking. In addition, dogs and cats find these nests and often kill or injure the babies.
  • If a nest is discovered or disturbed, place the baby rabbits back in the nest and leave them there unless they are injured or if you are certain that the mother has been killed. Many people assume a mother is dead simply because they have not seen the mother return to the nest in quite some time, but this is completely normal. Female cottontails usually only come to feed their young twice a day, at dawn and dusk, because this decreases the chance of alerting predators to the nest’s location. If you are not sure if the mother is coming back to feed them, try placing a string over the nest. If the string has not moved by the following morning, the mother has not returned. Also, if the babies are cool and appear very hungry, place them in a warm, dark box with a towel, and place the box in a quiet place and contact a wildlife rehabilitator immediately.
  • Young cottontail rabbits should only be rescued as a last resort. Baby rabbits have a high death rate when hand-raised, due in great part to the stress of handling by humans. People are NOT doing the babies any favors by attempting to raise them themselves. It usually only ends in sadness and frustration. Again, they need special diets, care, and antibiotics if they are to have any chance at survival. Also, when baby rabbits are about 5 inches long, they are totally on their own and away from their mother. These rabbits do not need to be taken in unless they are injured. A good rule of thumb is, if you can’t catch a rabbit without a chase, then he or she does NOT need to be rescued!


  • Young squirrels are often found after a nest has been blown down from a tree following a storm. The best thing you can do in order to reunite the young with their mother is to place the baby squirrels in a box and set the box at the base of the tree. The mother will usually retrieve the young and transport them to a safer location but only if she feels safe. Please resist the temptation to check on the baby squirrels frequently, and be sure to keep dogs, cats, and children away. It may be necessary to keep the young squirrels indoors overnight and then try reuniting them with their mother again the next day. Either way, it is always best to call your local wildlife rehabilitator for instructions and advice.

How about not letting your cat outside without your supervision?  She can't really defend herself since she has no use of her front claws so she shouldn't be outside without you watching anyway. 

Your yard may be fenced, but my 50lb dog sure is squirmy and she can squeeze through or just jump/climb over a fence to get to something she wants to chase.  A cat without use of her front claws wouldn't stand a chance against her.

Cat are hunters - you cannot go against nature.  Either keep her in totallly, or let her out while you are out.   Our cat hunts, too.  She mostly kills the field rats and mice near us (in the country) so we can't complain.  During the winter she would bring them in and play with them.  Ugh.  Sometimes Hubby would have to kill them. 

I had a cat who was a supreme hunter. It kind of bothered me when she brought home a live bunny. But when she caught something we just let her kill it and eat it. That's what predators do.

Also, keep in mind that birds and rodents carry many diseases and it is in your best interests to not handle them.

stupid squirrels. I wish I had a cat to bring me dead squirrels.

I was told that most birds are caught by cats in the early hours of the morning.  So I kept my cat in at night - that seemed to work.  He only brought in mice after that.

He did bring in some strange things in his younger years though - a dead woodpecker, a half sized bread baguette (no idea how he got it through the catflap), a pair of rolled up yellow socks and a bat. 

The bat was still alive so I took it to the vets who superglued the holes in it's wings back together and gave it back to us to release. 

Might be worth keeping her in at night and getting a bell on her collar.

well, both baby birds had a sad ending to their lives today.  They made it through the night, but one of them died later in the morning--I'm guessing it didn't get enough food or perhaps had been injured by my cat because it wasn't nearly as spunky as the other one.  The other baby bird was fine, so I put it back in a plastic container lined with papertowels & the mama bird kept watch over it throughout the day, but towards the afternoon, it hopped out of the plastic container & I didn't see where it went off to.  Unfortuantely, it must've hopped to the lower branches of the tree because my neighbor's dog found it later in the evening.  The poor thing didn't stand a chance after that.  Oh well, that's the way of nature with wild animals--eat or be eaten, right?

I wonder how many calories there are in a baby bird.

34 calories

minus the feathers

I'll bet the feathers would add fiber.

There are a lot of birds at the barn where I ride and the babies fall out of their nests all the time. I know people who've had success raising abandoned baby birds by making them "nests" out of hay in a little basket and feeding them dry cat food soaked in water (drop it into their open mouths, but make sure the pieces aren't too big). As far as cats catching them, I have the same problem with my three cats. A bell on their collar helps a lot in terms of warning birds that can actually fly away, but it's hard to do anything to protect the babies.

15 Replies