As loyal readers know, Diva Crows has little use for cats. They are fine if kept indoors, but outdoor cats are a menace. There are over 100 million in the United States and they kill approximately 2.4 billion birds here every year, making cat predation by far the largest source of direct, human-caused mortality to birds. So the official position of Diva Crows is that if you must have a cat outdoors, make sure you are pretty confident that it is the Egyptian goddess Bastet.
If you do let your cat outside, then you are responsible for what the cat does, including attacking a bird. The cat is not responsible. It is, after all, just being a cat. You, on the other hand, are making a decision that could put birds in danger. So when we got a recent call about a cat-caught bluebird, we were prepared for a defensive cat owner and a half dead bird. We got neither.
First we got to meet “Blue.” The cat had jumped straight up in the air as the bird was flying by and grabbed it by its leg, fracturing the joint. In spite of a serious injury, the bird was not having any of our nonsense. It was alert and managed to move with lightening speed in spite of only having one leg.
Normally when a bird has a broken bone at the joint, there is nothing we can do but put the bird down. When I told Amazing Cat Owner (“ACO”), she volunteered to take it to the vet and cover the cost to see if anything could be done. Diva Crows’ avian vet, Dr. Carothers, is the Best Ever. She examined the bird, took xrays, splinted the leg, and sent it home with heavy-duty painkillers. Just keep it still, she said. No perching, no bathing, no activity at all for a week.
Right. This is Blue we are talking about. We kept the bird in an incubator and hydrated her with a steady diet of fruit. She had on a splint and vet wrap. She did not care. She still zipped around the incubator, chasing worms and looking for a way out. Then she started flying inside a box that was 18 inches wide, banging her head onto the sides. Time to move Blue to a cage.
Once in a cage, she saw no reason not to perch, fly, and cling to the sides, bandage and all. A follow-up visit to the vet showed that the leg had healed, no infection, and that the limb was still alive. The leg is, of course, fused in a straight position but Blue isn’t bothered. She can cling to the side of a cage, perch, fly, and bounce along the ground. She will have no problem flying to bushes to eat their berries or helping herself to seed from a bird feeder to eat her winter diet. Once the insects come back in the spring, she will be able to hunt them down as she did before. We even kept her outside to make sure she had no problem with the cold. All that did was make her more anxious to get OUT and home.
Blue was released on January 15, 2022 at the place she was found. Like all successful releases, it only took a few seconds and the bird never looked back.
Moral of the story: If you must let your cat outside, be like our new BFF, Amazing Cat Owner. Supervise your kitties, and if they harm a bird, do the responsible thing: take it to a rehabber and pay for any necessary vet care to give the bird every chance to survive. We could not have saved Blue; she needed professional medical treatment. The bill was not trivial. ACO paid it and donated to Diva Crows for Blue’s care. We are deeply grateful for that level of generosity. We are also heartened by meeting a cat owner who was committed to giving Blue her life back. So if you have a sneaking suspicion that your cat may not be Bastet, and you still plan to let it outside, please commit now to fixing any problems that may arise.