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Is It Cruel To Keep A Bird In A Cage?

Have you ever been approached by a friend or acquaintance who has suggested that keeping a bird in a cage could be considered cruel? You most likely have thought of the question once or twice while owning your bird. 

While it is cruel to encage a wild bird, the cage might be the safest place a domesticated bird can be.

In this article, you’ll find out why it can be cruel to keep a bird in a cage and ways you can make their life in one comfortable.

Is it cruel to keep a bird in a cage?

There isn’t a simple yes or no answer to this question. 

You can readily find evidence supporting keeping a bird in a cage. However, you can also find evidence that doesn’t support this idea and think it’s cruel to keep a bird inside one. 

This includes even if you let them out of the cage on a weekly basis. It’s a multifaceted issue that especially depends on if the bird is wild or domesticated.

Domesticated vs. Wild

A wild bird that has spent its life outside should not be suddenly made a pet and put into a cage. 

This will cause immense stress, so an otherwise healthy wild bird could become tragically ill. 

If your intention for capturing the wild bird is because you have a suspicion it’s hurt, then your best option is to not do it yourself. 

You should call your local wildlife expert so they can direct you on the actions to take.

For a pet bird, the opposite is true. They don’t have the skills to survive outside since they have spent their lives around humans. 

The weather could also be another reason they won’t survive in the wild. 

Take budgies, for example. These birds are tropical birds whose preferred temperatures are in the 70-degree range. 

If you lived in the northeast and happened to be in the colder winter months, there is no way it would survive.

It’s complicated

It depends on the origins of the bird. 

Wild birds can’t be kept in cages because they are used to the outdoors, and domesticated birds can’t be released into the outdoors. 

The cage is necessary for a pet bird, but it can be argued that keeping it in there 24/7 is also cruel in its own right.

You can circumnavigate this by letting your pet bird out of the cage at least a few times a week. 

Preferably it should be once a day; at least a few times a week is preferable to never letting the bird out at all.

What makes it cruel to keep a bird in a cage?

What makes it cruel to keep a bird in a cage

Even though the answer to whether or not it is cruel to keep a bird in a cage is complicated, there are still good arguments why it is not the best option for pet birds. 

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One reason includes the bird not being able to fly. Also, staying in a cage long-term can lead to chronic mood changes and loneliness.

Unable to Fly

A bird is meant to fly. Whether you’ve owned a bird or not, this is common knowledge. 

Being stuck in a cage constantly doesn’t allow a bird to fly properly. 

Their flight range is limited, and being unable to fly can lead to cardiovascular problems, among other things.

A larger cage can help soften this issue. However, no matter how big the cage, their flying range isn’t what it would be, say, if it had access to the entire room.

Mood changes

Do you remember when you were a small child and were forced to go to your room for a certain amount of time? 

The time seemed to drag on, so imagine being stuck in a tiny cage for what is your entire existence. 

Being confined in such a small space can lead to mood swings. This could be for a lot of reasons. 

It could be frustration on the bird’s part over not being able to fly or even depression.


Remember that birds live in flocks. They are social birds, so keeping them in a cage alone with no interaction with other birds can make them extremely lonely. 

You could buy another bird to keep your pet company, but then you find yourself with the same issues. This includes your birds being unable to properly fly and being stuck in a cage.

How to make a cage comfortable for a bird?

How to make a cage comfortable for a bird

Although living in a cage can sometimes be cruel for a pet bird, there are things you can do to make it a more comfortable environment for them in the long run. 

You can do this by ensuring the cage is clean, decorating it with toys, and getting appropriately sized perches. 

While it won’t guarantee your bird will be happy, it will help them live as long as possible.

Cleanliness is key!

Everyone likes a clean environment, and birds are no exception to this fact. 

Since birds poop frequently and are incontinent, it’s best to clean the cage at least daily if possible. 

Change the cage liners either daily or at least twice a week. Food and water dishes must be dumped, rinsed, and refilled daily. 

Finally, keep an eye on perches and toys in the cage. Birds like to chew, so they can become ruined pretty quickly.

The décor

Birds love to play, so when you are putting together your bird’s cage, make sure you have purchased many toys to decorate it with. 

Birds love swings, mirrors, ladders, bells, and rope toys. 

Just make sure the toys are safe for birds. The last thing you want is something in the cage that can be a choking hazard!

Appropriately sized perches

Perches are an essential part of a bird’s cage because this is where the bird stands, sits, sleeps, etc. 

You want to ensure you have good-sized perches depending on the bird you are keeping as a pet. 

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Do not have one that’s too small, but on the flip side, you also don’t want one that is too thick either.

The bird needs to be able to properly grip the perch comfortably and safely. Do not know which ones you should get for your bird? 

Well, the best thing you can do is just contact your vet. They will be able to point you in the right direction and advise you on what perch is best for your bird’s claws.

Preparation before letting your bird have time outside its cage

Preparations before letting your bird have time outside its cage

One of the best ways to make cage living tolerable for your bird is to let it have some time outside the cage

This can give it a well-rounded life and the best of both worlds. 

However, before you even think about letting them out, you need to make sure it is safe and comfortable for them outside the cage.

Safety first

Before letting the bird out of the cage, you need to make the environment safe for them. 

If there are other pets in the house, like a cat or dog, consider letting the bird out in a closed-off room. 

In this room, make sure there are no items around that a bird can hurt themselves on. 

This includes fans, sharp objects, blinds, plants, and chemicals, just to name a few hazards.

Also, make sure that doors and windows to the outside are closed! Your pet bird cannot survive in the wild, so don’t take a chance.


Similar to decorating the cage, you can do the same to the area your bird is flying around in! 

Use some ladders, swings, perches, mirrors, and just the usual toys. 

It doesn’t matter if the object is inside or outside the cage. Your bird is going to love to play with it regardless.

Follow its pace

Never try to force a bird out of a cage. If you do this, then you’ll instantly lose its trust. You want to let the bird come out at its own pace. 

Leave the cage door open and just wait patiently. You can use treats to coax the bird out, but if this doesn’t work, just back off and let it go at its own pace.

Final Thoughts

And there you have it. While, on the surface, it might seem cruel to keep a domesticated bird in a cage, you must remember that these birds can’t survive in the wild. 

They must have someplace to call home, which is where the cage comes in. 

You can help give them a balanced life by creating a safe and comfortable environment inside the cage and out. 

This can be done by keeping the areas clean, getting rid of all hazards, and ensuring they have lots of toys, perches, etc., for stimulation. 

Doing all these things will guarantee your bird a full, comfortable life.