Modifying a Cage For a Disabled Parrot

Whether as a temporary solution, or long term, a simple idea on how to raise the cage bottom for a disabled parrot.

Chico’s cage

I came up with this design for Chico the elderly and disabled rescue Panama Amazon. He has bad arthritis which prevents his foot locking mechanism from working and is therefore likely to fall as he relaxes. Another option could be to get a cage for something like a ferret or rabbit, but I wanted to keep the cage Chico already knew since he is also only partially sighted. Plus being up off the floor Chico’s living area was more likely to be free of draughts.


  • Untreated pinewood slats available from any large hardware store like B&Q. The size of the slats depends on the size of the cage. They need to fit between the cage bars which will dictate the width and depth of the slats. They also need to be a little longer than either the width or depth of the cage depending on which way you are going to slot them.
  • Upholstery foam sheet. I got mine in a roll from Ebay. It comes in different sizes and thicknesses. I got one inch thick and firm, as I first used it to line the tray at the bottom of the cage. Firm is quite hard but holds its shape in the corners of the cage. I think two inch thick and medium would be a better choice. Upholstery foam is not toxic.
  • Small hacksaw to cut the wood.
  • Drill with a wood bit.
  • Pencil to mark where to saw and drill.
  • Sandpaper.
  • Large pair of scissors to cut the foam.
  • Untreated garden twine, Paulie rope or leather laces to tie the slats in position.


Measure the cage and add 5 – 10cm extra for a comfortable overlap of the wooden slats at each end. Mark off the correct length with a pencil and saw them to size with a mini hacksaw.

Drill a hole at each end. The holes should be just outside the position of the cage bars so that each wooden slat can easily be secured to the bars with something like leather laces, Paulie rope or garden twine.

Rub a piece of sandpaper over the slats so there are no sharp edges or splinters.

Drilled, sandpapered untreated pinewood slats

Push the finished slats through the cage bars at the height required.

Wooden slats in place

Tie each one in place with a piece of untreated garden twine, Paulie rope or leather laces threaded through the drilled hole.

Ollie doing quality control. Here, cotton rope is looped around the underneath cage bar, through the drilled hole and secured in place

Measure the inside of the cage and draw the measurements onto the foam sheet with a marker pen. Cut the foam sheet to size with a pair of kitchen scissors. You may have to then cut the measured foam piece into two or three pieces to fit through the door of the cage. If necessary, cut a notch to accommodate the cage door as it opens.

Foam cut into three pieces to fit through the door

Cover the foam in a towel(s) or pet pads and then paper.

This was the same design for Ollie’s cage when he got sick with PDD/AG. The platform was lower down to accommodate his favourite sisal spring swing (behind the open door).

Ollie’s cage

It is easy to add a heated pet pad underneath the papers to keep the bird warm at night.

Night box

Because Chico’s foot locking mechanism doesn’t work, I covered a shoebox with vet wrap to make it “waterproof”. Every night I wrap it in two small cotton towels and cover that with paper towel. It is placed under his roosting perch so that as he sleeps, should he slip backwards he is supported by the box. The box is just the right size so that his poops go down the sides rather than collecting on top, which means for a clean tail.

Chico’s night box


For Chico whose feet won’t open flat, rope perches were the answer as they are easier to grip. Cotton rope or sisal perches should be checked daily to make sure there are no loose strands in which a toe or claw could get caught. Hardwood perches can be covered in vet wrap which comes in a variety of colours. Some birds, like Chico, will do their best to remove it, so that idea had to be abandoned. Instead I scored deep grooves into short willow perches to try help him from slipping off.

Ollie, on the other hand, accepted mole skin (available from any chemist/pharmacist for human feet) stuck on his multi-stemmed perch – it is incredibly sticky and small pieces will stay in put if just used on top of the perch (ie. no need to wrap it round the whole perch – it is difficult to remove!).

Multi-stemmed java perch with moleskin pieces


Platforms can be useful for a disabled bird. You could make ledges and runs out of wooden platforms made for small animals like ferrets. Wire/metal platforms can be useful too. Chico has one under his highest rope perch to stop him falling. are a fabulous company and will make bespoke perches and platforms as well as toys to suit your bird’s specific needs. They also provided us with our short willow perches.