What To Put On The Bottom Of A Bird Cage (Bird Cage Liner Guide)

Published by Joseph Calabrese on

the bottom of my cockatiels cage

All bird cages need liner at the bottom.

Most cages will have cage bars on the floor which aren’t good floor liners.

The reason cage bars are not good to have on the bottom of the cage is because your bird can easily slip their feet through the bar spacing.

This makes it difficult for them to walk around on the cage floor, which most birds like to do.

If your bird slips their feet through the bar spacing, they could fall over and hit its beak on the floor.

Although your bird isn’t at risk of serious injury, I’m sure they would rather not fall down when trying to walk around.

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Lovebird sitting

So, what should you put on the bottom of your birds’ cage?

Before we get into what you CAN use, let’s look at some of the things you CAN’T use as bird cage liner…

Bird Cage Liner Material To Avoid

The following materials should not be used as bird cage liner because it’s either toxic, impractical, or both.

1) Wooden Shavings

There are some sources that suggest using wooden shaving as a cage liner.

wood chips as bird cage liner
(Image credit: Pixabay)

It’s true that wooden shaving/chips could be used on the bottom of your bird’s cage, but it’s just impractical.

Not to mention that some woods (cedar, redwood, oak, and yew) are toxic for birds.

Bird cage liner is supposed to make the end-of-day cleanups easier, using wood shavings makes this job 10x more difficult than it needs to be.

2) Sand

Birds don’t like sand, it’s coarse, rough, and irritating and it gets everywhere, seriously, good luck trying to clean and replace sand every day without it blowing all the way through your house.

an image of sand
(Image Credit: Pixabay)

If you were to use sand, you’d have a pretty hard time trying to clean it.

Sand is not even an option anyways due to it being toxic if ingested by birds.

3) Kitty Litter

I’ve seen some sources suggesting the use of kitty litter as bird cage liner because it can help soak up wet poops.

Although that is true, kitty litter still doesn’t make a good cage liner.

There are two main reasons why kitty litter shouldn’t be used…

  1. It is dusty and can cause respiratory problems for your bird when blown around the house
  1. It is toxic for birds if they ingest it

Best to avoid kitty litter as a liner for your birds’ cage.

The Best Bird Cage Liner

The only material I would put on the bottom of my birds’ cage is paper, just regular white paper.

Paper is 100% the best bird cage liner, it’s the easiest bird-safe material to apply and replace on a daily basis.

It’s also cheap, I can get about a month’s worth of paper for 5 bucks from the local supply shop.

The bottom of my birds cage
(My cockatiels cage liner)

For my cage, it takes 9 pieces of A4 paper to cover the entire floor, but you can choose to use larger pieces such as A3-sized paper.

Most cages (mine included) will have a pull-out floor, which makes replacing the paper easier.

Newspaper is also a good choice.

Most of today’s newspapers are bird safe.

Back in the day, newspaper ink used to be petroleum-based, which was unsafe for birds.

But now, they use completely bird-safe soy ink, pretty convenient for us bird owners right?

Although newspaper is still a solid cage liner choice, there is one main reason you may decide to use plain white paper instead…

You can easily inspect your birds’ poop on white paper.

The appearance of your birds’ poop is a major indicator of their health, it’s much easier to see all the gross details if you use plain white paper.

Newspaper, being greyish, will hide some of those details.

Another reason why paper is the superior bird cage liner is that it’s flat, your bird will be able to walk around at the bottom of the cage with no problems as it’s a flat surface.

Could you imagine your bird trying to walk on wood chips?

I would imagine that it would be quite uncomfortable for them.


What you have on the bottom of your bird’s cage is just as important as the perches and toys you fill the cage with.

Most birds enjoy exploring and playing at the bottom of the cage.

Here are the cage liners you should avoid using:

  • Wooden shavings
  • Sand
  • Kitty litter
  • Cage bars

Paper is bird safe and more convenient to use, you could use butchers paper or newspaper, but plain white paper is best to inspect your birds’ droppings easier.

The best things about using paper as cage liner are:

  • It’s a flat and easy-to-walk on surface for your bird
  • Paper is easy to clean and replace every day
  • You can add foraging and shredding toys at the bottom

You can’t do these things with wooden shaving, it’s just too impractical.

Regular cage bars are also not the best liners (this is just the cage with no added liner).

Birds can slip their feet through the cage bar spacing which wouldn’t be fun for them.

This is why added cage liner is important, paper is the most convenient liner, especially if the floor of your cage pulls out.

If you found this article helpful, you may find more value in the simple cockatiel cage setup guide.

The linked guide discusses everything you need in your bird’s cage, in case you need help with a cage setup.

Just thought I would leave you with this helpful resource.

Categories: Housing/Cage


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