How do you love a cat that does this to a bird?

A concrete bunny watching over this poor downy woodpecker.

This Saturday morning, as I was peacefully reading in bed, my cat’s head popped through the cat flap. I realized with a sick thud that she had something in her mouth. Something big and animal sized. I let out a “Noooooo” and went chasing after her (and shrieking semi-hysterically) to see what it was and if I could possibly wrest it from her jaws unharmed. I chased her from one room to another and she finally dropped her prey, this beautiful downy woodpecker, dead. She growled at me as I snatched it away from her in the closest thing I could find – and H&M bag. It’s so heartbreaking to have this happen. But it is what cats do.

Beautiful bird, gorgeous feathers, no marks on the body. Do they die of fright? It was all soft and warm but horribly dead. This is not my idea of communing with nature. I felt responsible.

Finding the poor bird dead was the 2nd best scenario: Finding it injured and half dead would have been worse. Then there is the awful problem of putting it out of its misery and how do you do that? There was once a time when I captured a bird out of my cats jaws, held it in my hands and let it go out my back door where it flew away. That was wonderful: best case scenario.

It’s a hard thing to reconcile: a love for cats with a passion for wild birds. They don’t mix. I have two cats. One who lives inside: He’ll never catch a bird. My other one is older and has always been an indoor-outdoor cat. She stays indoors a lot more now, but these spring days have been calling to her, and she goes out for few hours on non-rainy days.

As far as I know, this woodpecker – perhaps the same one I got excited about this winter at the suet feeder – is only the second bird she’s caught in her entire four years. She’s not that great a hunter.

A predator she is though, she can’t help it. I love my cat, but I look at her a little differently after something like this happens.


  1. I know that its’ really hard to but it’s nature’s way. Birds have many predators. If they didn’t have a cat, it would always be something else. It’s just sad that it was a wood pecker, who are already so few in numbers. But you also have to think, your cat brought it back to home, a gift for the family! That in itself is nice because they probably feel they are providing somehow.


  2. Thanks, you are right, they are proud to bring in the catch. Helps to think that.
    Two cats in the past used to regularly bring me mice. They left them on the floor by the side of my bed in the morning. However by the time I woke and found them they usually they were just “mouse faces” and a tail.

  3. Aww darn it! That is no fun. Sorry to hear that. I know the feeling. I’m a cat lover too…and a bird lover.

  4. Our cats like to leave the mice on the walkway. Then the magpies tend to get at them.

    It used to horrify me, but now I’ve taken to calling the remains ‘meeses pieces’.

    Now birds; so far, they haven’t been very lucky getting birds and that’s a relief.

  5. Just so you know, cat's saliva has an enzyme that kills. Once they've broken the skin, it's hard to recover the animal even if you got it to a wildlife vet quickly.

    We found this out when trying to rescue a baby squirrel once.

    Also, everyone should look up the contact info for their nearest wildlife rehabilitater, just in case you need to make that call. In the US, rehabbers often specialize in various species and those who focus on raptors have to have a federal license.

    Hope that helps.

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