Magpies mobbing cat
May 22, 2010 6:21 AM   Subscribe

Magpies mobbing my cat - is there any danger?

We have an older cat, with a bad back so he can't jump, and recently with no teeth. He likes to sit out in the sun all day around our and the neighbouring gardens, and goes a bit mad if kept in for long periods. Recently 2 magpies have started mobbing him whenever he is out without human company, is there any chance they could do him some harm? If so, what can we do to deter them, obviously we would prefer something non-lethal as we appreciate they probably see him as a danger.
posted by biffa to Pets & Animals (10 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I doubt they are going to hurt him... I suspect there is a next nearby. If that's the case, the bird behavior will probably stop after the nesting season is over...
posted by HuronBob at 6:59 AM on May 22, 2010

I'd guess the two birds have a nest nearby. If the birds do more than just harass your cat, i.e., peck at him, then, yes, they could injure him, especially around the face and eyes. Birds in my neighborhood are given to swooping at people and other animals, but I've never seen any physical contact.

If the birds are, in fact, protecting a nest, then this behavior will go away when the young birds go out on their own.
posted by justcorbly at 7:05 AM on May 22, 2010

We go through this every spring; at least two pairs of mockingbirds nest in the large sycamore in front and terrorize my cats. So far no harm has come to them, but it is fun to watch the cats try to cross no man's land-- they run, hunker down, run...and so on. I figure it is pay back for all the birds that my cats have killed over the years.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 7:22 AM on May 22, 2010

Mod note: comments removed - we are NOT going to have the indoor/outdoor cat fight again. Go to metatalk.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 9:18 AM on May 22, 2010

The one risk I can think of with magpies (and any other of the really aggressive birds) is eye loss. I knew a couple of cats growing up who lost eyes to birds. Since he can't really defend himself, that could be a concern.

Is there a way to create an enclosure for him that feels like it's open but protects him from the birds?

(on cats killing birds: the real concern there is two-fold - predation of protected species, since cats don't care which birds are protected, and exposure to the pathogens and parasites carried by birds, which can deliver some really gnarly health issues/vet bills; part of being a cat guardian is being aware of those risks and doing what you can to keep it humane)
posted by batmonkey at 9:20 AM on May 22, 2010

I've seen a group of magpies tree a cat and keep it from coming down for nearly 48 hours. (During 2-3 nasty thunderstorms)

It depends on whether they actually get close enough. Too bad about the claws, that would help your cat naturally defend himself.

What about pairing him up with a younger cat?
posted by jkaczor at 9:37 AM on May 22, 2010

I had one cat that would come home with bloody divots in his head from mockingbirds, but that is the exception in my experience. My current crew gets harassed, but mostly just keep their heads down, grit their teeth and bear it. In a cursory reading of some magpie sites, it looks like this behavior will last a month, month and a half.
posted by thebrokedown at 10:09 AM on May 22, 2010

Best answer: Where we use to live, my cat was mobbed by really mean magpies, to the point of scaring him from entering the yard. They would only heckle him at first, but when they began swooping down on him I chased them off with a broom.
We've moved to another house, different yard and the first summer here he bolted inside as soon as he heard magpies. I chased them off as well. Some kids left a small football goal outside and our cat began hanging out under that, to feel safe. The magpies got bored. He stayed in his little goal enjoying the sun while feeling protected.
If you worry these magpies are as mean as the ones that scared my cat off magpies originally, I say make him a little chicken-wire cat basking castle here he can feel safer. It only has to look like an overturned football goal to work. Seems to bore magpies as the cat won't run away when he feels safe.
posted by dabitch at 2:07 PM on May 22, 2010 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Too bad about the claws

He has claws, its just his teeth that are gone, as his gums were rotten and he couldn't eat. (He's a recently adopted stray). We think he may have been hit by a car or kicked so that he can't jump.
posted by biffa at 2:49 PM on May 22, 2010

Oh, poor kitty! Looks like you've got a great solution for letting him bask.
posted by batmonkey at 9:57 PM on May 22, 2010

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