Kili & Truman are moving to the new house where Santina has already been in quarantine. Now that Santina is clear of infection and moved to the big room, the smaller room - originally planned for cages - is now vacant. Having had a powder coat steel cage for Kili and aluminum Kings cage for Truman, I knew immediately what I'd be getting the birds at the new house.
After having Truman and his cage for 4 years, I continue to stand by the original review I did of the aluminum cage. It's expensive and it's not perfect. But it's the best cage for the money hands down. Powder coat cages just aren't sufficient in quality. Inevitably after a lot of use and washing, the coating comes off and they rust. Stainless steel cages are unbearably expensive. The aluminum cage is lighter in weight, easy to assemble, and overall good quality.
For the price, I think the aluminum cage line provides the best bang for the buck. At roughly double the price of a comparable powder coat cage, you get the benefit of non-corrosiveness that you can get from stainless steel at even twice more. As you folks probably know by now, I'm more value driven. I don't mind spending more but I hate spending more when I don't feel a sufficient benefit to justify the price. That's why I think a cage made from aluminum is the perfect compromise.
When you think about the long lifespan of a parrot and estimate the value you will get out of a cage, paying more up front for a cage makes more sense. Let's say the parrot will live 20+ years but the cage won't even make it that far. Depending on how bad you're willing to let the cage get before replacing it, I'd say it is reasonable to say that 5-10 years is realistic for the powder coat and 10-20 for the aluminum. Stainless might last even longer but if it's poor quality stainless it might not. Usually the hardware, hinges, food doors, etc will fail before the bars and the hassle will make the cage need replacement regardless. So if the aluminum cage can solidly last twice as long, at about twice the price it's a good deal. This is because you're getting a better cage with thicker bars during that time. There won't be any rust or chipping even when the cage begins to be less than desirable to keep.
Only one company makes aluminum parrot cages so there's no shopping around, Kings Cages. There is only one cage design to choose from but two sizes. I just call them the small aluminum cage and the big one. Kili is getting the small one which measures in at a sizable 25"x22"x45". This cage has 5/8" bar spacing and is great for Senegal Parrots, Conures, Cockatiels, Quakers, and other similar sized parrots. Considering that Kili is moving up from a 18x18x32 powder coat cage, it's an immediately obvious improvement. Back when I got Kili and that cage, I didn't know any better and until I was moving didn't find the chance to replace it. Truman on the other hand is getting a new version of the same cage he used to have as well. This one is 33"x25"x49" and makes a good sized cage for a Cape Parrot, Timneh Grey, Galah, or Smaller Amazon. I'm not sure if I would keep a CAG in this cage though. Maybe a smaller CAG yes but not the really big 600g ones.
The Aluminum Kings cages in 2 sizes come in 3 styles: standard, arch top, and play top. To me, all but the dometop are a waste of money. The playtop is expensive and not beneficial. Parrots will play on top of their cages with or without one and frankly a separate tree or stand is much better to have. The standard cage loses a lot of good living space without the archtop (playtop version included). For just a few $100 more and not a substantial amount in proportion to the main price, the living space is greatly expanded. There is a downside to the dometop though. Clumsy and baby birds can have trouble climbing around on it. When Truman was a baby he used to have trouble getting around and would fall off. But for agile adult birds this is no factor. It's also a bit of a pain trying to reach up and around to clean the dometop from inside.
I am handy with tools so the fact that the Kings Cage is so easy to put together plays little role. But, for most consumers this is a huge plus. It comes in just 8 pieces and all but the top two of the arch just snap together. The arch top connects with just 4 standard screws. Assembly is easy but you must pay attention that alignment is perfect or it won't come together. It only took 10 minutes to assemble the small cage by myself and then 10 minutes to assemble the big one with the help of my brother.
As I said in my first review, I don't like the wood dowels and plastic food cups.I immediately replace these with stainless steel cups and natural or NU Perches. The cage is actually a bit harder to clean than the powder coat one but not substantially enough to make it less worthy. The lighter weight and mobility make up for that. Another issue is plastic handles for the food doors can potentially be chewed off by any parrot. Most of the flaws are little nit picks and nuisances whereas the cage overall is solid, durable, and reliable.
So is it my dream cage? Does it have every feature/quality I'd want in a bird cage? No. But it is by far the best quality and value cage I have encountered and the one that I choose for my parrots Kili & Truman.
For some time now I have been contemplating upgrading Truman to a larger travel carrier. Unfortunately his carrier is no bigger than Kili's even though he is a bigger parrot. Generally this has been fine for short outings like taking him to the vet or on a short drive. However, I have begun taking him on overnight outings lately and long drives. Not only is the carrier confined, but also boring for him. I think boredom leads him to a lot of screaming during the drives. Most of this would be manageable but my biggest complaint is that he ends up stepping off his perch into the poop below. Just stepping in poop is never enough. He ends up getting it all over his beak, the walls of the carrier, and everywhere as he is playing with the paper towel. Also his tail keeps hitting the walls as he turns around, so he comes out quite scraggly looking.
I would gladly put his perch higher (like in Kili's carrier), but since he is so big, any higher would cram him against the top of the carrier. Thus I set out in search of a new travel carrier. My main criteria was that the carrier must be about 4 inches taller so that I could raise the perch 3 inches and allow an extra inch of head room. Of course I must be able to modify it to add a perch but toy hanging options are also important. I wanted a few inches more to the width but not really the length. The length gives him more than enough space as it is. Finally, I like having a cage style top loading door for putting him in and cleaning. Most pet carriers have a side door only which is unsuitable for a parrot.
At PetSmart I actually found the same version as his current carrier but one size larger. I was really excited because I liked the design I initially chose. Unfortunately it turned out that the bigger version was several inches longer but barely an inch taller or wider. This was of absolutely no use to me. Since I bought Truman's cage, I was aware of a travel cage made my Kings Cages. I have thus far been reluctant to buy it because of price and weight. I began considering it again since seeing it at the Bird Paradise Parrot Palooza. However, they lied about their products being 20% off which was a major turn off from buying the cage there.
I had no luck finding a plastic carrier to modify and replace Truman's carrier, so I considered the Kings Cages Travel Cage some more. I got to see it in person and my first reaction was that it was too big, too heavy, and too expensive. This was the same feeling I got the previous times I've seen it which was why I did not buy it previously. I decided to compare to the smaller version of it. Despite being made out of aluminum, it weighs a hefty 14lbs without the parrot, toys, or perches.The small Kings Travel Cage is more affordable and the 8lb weight is acceptable. I was not disappointed about the lack of a grate or food doors. I could always hang my own food bowls and keep the perch high instead of a grate. However the 14" cube dimensions were unsuitable. It would hardly serve as an upgrade from Truman's current carrier. Furthermore, I discovered that the bottom is not held in and can fall into the cage. It cannot fall out, but there is nothing stopping it from falling in.
Realizing that the small carrier was not an option, I continued deliberating with myself about the medium one. I even got permission to bring the sample out of the store and check how it fits in my car. Luckily it just fits on a seat and the seat belt just reaches to secure it. I even held Truman next to the cage to see how he would fit inside of it. Finally I was convinced by the incredible discount I was offered to purchase the travel cage. 30% off the online standard price is no cheap Bird Paradise trick. Even at $150, the travel cage is quite expensive. This is really the absolute max I would pay for it but I knew there was no way of finding it any cheaper or a better alternative elsewhere. So I went ahead and bought the cage for Truman.
I discovered that the medium travel cage does not come with a top handle perch like the cheaper small cage does. I brought this up and was given a perch dowel for free to screw on myself. Being handy, this was not much of a problem for me but I find it disappointing that the more expensive cage lacks an awesome feature of the cheaper version! If I could make one complaint about Kings Cages is that the more expensive the products they make, the more they cut corners. The cheap economy cages come with stainless steel bowls while the expensive aluminum cages come with worthless plastic cups. The travel cage came with these cheap cups but I don't intend on upgrading them unless Truman chews them to bits. I wouldn't be surprised if he does; he chews plastic bottle caps into a pulp in under twenty minutes. I'm mainly counting on the fact he won't have enough time in the travel cage (and that I will only leave cups in briefly during feeding) to destroy the cups and want to save on weight, space, and money from upgrading to stainless steel ones.
I let Kili and Truman stay out to watch the assembly of their new travel cage. The reason I say their is because they will each continue to have a carrier but will take turns spending time in the travel cage. My brother helped assemble the cage. Assembly is quite easy and takes no time at all. No tools, hardware, or skills are required. This definitely puts Kings Cages ahead of others for people who need the product without the complexity of assembly. The hard part is figuring out the orientation of each piece but luckily they only go in one way. Once the inner tabs are lined up, it's just a matter of pounding the parts until they lock into each other. The best way is to turn the parts such that you can hit down with your hand and allow gravity to help.
The four sides connect first and then the top is added to hold everything together. The poop pan and grate slide in like a normal cage. Yet, unlike the normal cages, the travel cage has a rotating flap to prevent them from sliding out. This is fantastic and I'm disappointed the bigger cages don't have this feature as well. The large door is built into the front panel, so no mounting of a door is required. The door spans the entire front so it is very easy to access the inside. The food doors are built into the front door which makes it easy to open the cage door to refill the cups without need of taking them out.
The included perch is a machined dowel with notches. It is easy to drop in place. Gravity holds it down but unfortunately driving on a bumpy road could allow the perch to bounce upward. I do not recommend using the included perch as a primary. In fact, it is almost mandatory to have two perches inside. I placed the included perch toward the front of the carrier to facilitate easy access to the food bowls for the parrot. Then my brother helped me by cutting and bolting a dragonwood perch slightly back of middle. I selected dragonwood because the bark is more porous and allows the parrots a good grip with their talons during travel. My brother bolted the perch on using equipment from my Traning Perch assembly kit. Instead of the wing nuts typically used for cage perches, we opted for a permanent wrench on nut instead. The added security of such a nut plus the fact that it sticks out less made it preferable for a travel cage. The notched perch can only stand at the height dictated by the cross bars it sits on. However, I was able to select any height for the bolt on perch. I did not place it dead center because that would waste space toward the back and cram the feeding perch. So instead I placed it back as far as I could go without Truman's tail hitting the rear cage bars. I also placed the main perch slightly higher than the food perch. This way the low perch does not affect him when he stands on the main one and his tail can hang below the main perch when he is on the eating one.
The final modification to make was to cut and screw on the spare dowel I received. This was easy for me but not something the average person can undertake. I used a miter saw to cut the dowel to the size appropriate to the cage top handle. Then I drilled holes through the aluminum handle using a drill press. Next I added wider holes into the outside of the handle holes to facilitate counter sinking the screw head into the handle. Next I transferred the holes from the handle to the perch by aligning it and using a drill with a smaller bit. The final step was to put 3 screws through the handle to attach the perch. This is a pretty essential modification because perching on the bare handle alone would be uncomfortable for the parrot. The method for mounting the handle is pretty strange. There are two knobs that stick out the sides of the cage and the handle snaps onto them by stretching apart and over the knobs. Then the handle is pulled upward and locked in place by pieces that rotate down. Not only is it complicated, but also looks like the most likely fail point on the entire cage.
I added two toys to the carrier. One was an old toy but one was brand new. I hung them on the sides not only to keep them out of the way but also to provide a little bit of hiding cover. Since it is a cage rather than a carrier, all sides are exposed, so it's not bad to give a little hiding. The first time I tried to put the food bowls in, it was really difficult because the plastic was not yet stretched. It's a good thing I tested them prior to putting food or water in because the first time they wouldn't budge until they snapped in all at once. After a few uses, they go in ok.
In conclusion, the Kings Cages Aluminum Travel Cage is the best travel cage on the market I could find appropriately sized for medium parrots such as African Grey, Cockatoo, Amazon, Eclectus, and Cape Parrot. It is not approved for air travel and I wouldn't recommend it for that anyway. A plastic carrier is still more suitable for short outings (under 3 hours), but this kind of travel cage has many uses. It's a nice cage for a parrot traveling by car frequently. A travel cage is great if you plan on spending overnight outings away from home with your parrot, but it can also be very convenient to have at home. At home it can serve as a temporary cage during cage cleaning and can also be used to cage the parrot in other rooms (like during cooking or in the presence of guests). This model definitely affords the most convenient feeding solution. The slide out poop pan and grate are nice but not really required in such a small cage. It would not be that much more difficult to clean through the door. However, since these features don't add any significant weight, it's great to have them. I would rate the cage 4 out of 5. Here's a quick summary of the pros and cons:
-Sturdy/reliable -Grate -Food doors -Aluminum (light and non-corrosive) -Carry handle -Fits on car seat -Adequate space for medium parrots -Safety door latch and magnet like on big cages -5/8" bar spacing -Selection of colors similar to cages -Looks very nice
-Expensive -Heavy -Plastic food cups -No secondary lock for food cups -Top handle perch not built in -Unsuitable notched perch -High pressure on bottom feet of cage can cause dents/scratches to surface
Stay tuned for more articles about this travel cage about how to train a parrot to go into carrier, the parrot's review of it, and videos of the travel cage in use.
Saturday I went to NJ and bought not only a new cage but all the perches, toys, and supplies for the new Cape Parrot (pretty much everything short of food). Originally I was planning on buying the largest powder coated cage with 3/4" bar spacing. However, someone recommended to me to try Kings Cages (which I had never heard of) so I looked into it and found a similar powder coat cage from them for cheaper. But as I spoke to them on the phone, they recommended that I should go with an aluminum cage instead. Originally, I was expecting to spend $600 for a cage and $400 for a tree. So instead I decided to go with the aluminum cage after all but get a smaller/cheaper tree. It will be much easier to upgrade to a bigger tree than a different cage in the future.
I went to their warehouse to see the cages/trees in person because I had not seen their products in stores before and I had questions about doors and other issues. Maria from Purringparrot warned me that her Cape chewed up the plastic food bowls that came with the cage so I wanted to make sure I could get stainless steel bowls instead. Also I was a bit concerned that the aluminum playtop cage was a bit smaller than the powder coated ones I was previously considering. Unfortunately the cage still comes with the pointless cheap plastic cups but the good news is that for about $50 more, you can get a replacement kit to mount rings in place of the plastic cups to hold stainless steel food bowls. For the kind of price of the cage I think the stainless cups should come standard but at least the upgrade is possible and well worth the money. I was also concerned with the locking mechanisms on the doors because I had problems keeping my Senegal Parrot from getting out of her cage. Luckily the Kings Cages come with a very ingenuitive lock for the front door which requires several motions that would be impossible for the parrot to be able to complete from inside. It needs to be pressed down, twisted, then down again, and twisted a second time completing a 180 degree turn. Also there is a magnet on the front door to keep it closed even if the pin is unlocked. The food doors are also well locked with a pin that is completely inaccessible from inside because of a plate that blocks the parrot from reaching the control.
I got to pick out my own tree from the hundreds available. I decided to go with a smaller table top tree not only for cost saving but also to keep the parrot at eye level when I am sitting down. Many of the tabletop trees were too short but the there weren't any short enough tall trees either. Also I didn't like some trees being too covered in branches to prevent climbing space and others being too bare. After much searching though, I found the perfect tree with a lower and higher area that can be climbed. This way I can hang toys from the top and they can be played with on the bottom. I was told that the downside to a short tree is that the parrot can jump off to the floor. At first I didn't understand what the big deal was but he explained that people buy a tall tree so the bird would stay on it. I replied that to me it wouldn't matter because I'm keeping the parrot flighted and it can fly off whenever it wants anyway. I asked to have the bolt for the food bowl removed because I never feed my birds when out like this and don't want a metal thing sticking out. Once again he suggested leaving it for water but I explained that a flighted parrot can just go back to its cage for water whenever it wants it. :D
I requested a Java dowel in place of the machined wooden dowels that come with the cage so we worked out a deal to get some custom cut for the cage. While I was at it, I picked out some toys and additional perches for the cage. Before I was ready to pay, I was asked if I really need the playtop for the cage because there was also a dometop available. I had not even considered the dome top (and I usually thought the dome was cutting off space that a square top could have been). He explained to me that it would actually provide more room. And since I don't leave my parrot to play on top of the cage anyway, I did not worry about missing the playtop anyway. This worked out perfectly because the dome added some space to compensate my fear of the cage turning out smaller than others I had considered.
The prices were good and I ended up buying everything I need for the new Cape within my originally planned budget. So now I can just sit back and wait for the bird knowing I will be ready for it whenever it is ready to come home to me.
The cage came in two boxes and I had many accessories so it filled practically the entire car.
That's my brother helping me unpack the cage parts.
Assembly was actually incredibly easy.
Then I got the tree together.
All it involves is securing one bolt so it's really easy.
So here's the new dometop aluminum cage for my upcoming Brown Necked "Cape" Parrot.
For 2 out of 3 perches I replaced machine doweled with natural Java but I left one dowel in and saved the 3rd Java for later.
Here is the stainless steel cup and holder to replace the junky plastic cup.
Here are the replaced food bowl rings with stainless steel cups.
All of the additional perches and toys.
I haven't decided on a place for the tree yet but for now I'm keeping it out of the way so Kili can get used to seeing it but not go on it.
For the next few months, I'm going to be keeping Kili's cage closer to me in the living area so that when the Cape arrives, I could have a reasonable quarantine and so Kili doesn't try to go on the Cape's cage. For now I'm hiding the cage in a corner near Kili's area but not on her spot. I don't want her flying back to where her cage used to be out of habit and land on the Cape cage instead. So I will keep the Cape slightly to the side of where Kili used to be. It's really important that Kili doesn't try to claim the new cage or tree so I want her to get used to not going on them. I left all the toys and things out of the new Cape cage to further reduce any temptation for Kili to check it all out. Overall I'm quite happy with the new set up and now just anxiously await the arrival of my new addition.
Part II, the Review
Yeah, they don't do a good job of making you feel like you bought something worth the money with the cheap included things. The cage should have been $50 more but come with all of the "deluxe" features standard so you wouldn't feel like getting a cheap quality expensive cage. The good news is you can discard (or use as spares) the wooden dowels and plastic food cups and it is really easy to replace these things with natural perches and stainless cups. Many cages you are locked in using whatever they come with and cannot swap, so basically just imagine the cage as $100 more expensive but including what you would expect with it.
I calculated that the cage is 26,000 cubic inches and the dome top adds another 10,000 cubic inches. That's pretty incredible considering Kili's entire cage is just 10,000 cubic inches. That brings the cage up to 37,000 cubic inches which sounds much more fair to me on a proportional comparison between the 2 species. Senegal Parrot: approx 115g, Cape: 400g. That makes the Cape about 3.5x bigger than Senegal and the cage comes out to 3.7x bigger so it's perfect. I was really skeptical about getting the original version (pre-dometop idea) because 26,000 would mean the cape would be more crammed in the new cage than Kili is in hers and I didn't want that. I don't want the large toys and perches to make the bird too crammed but now with the extra dome, it works out just right. I didn't want the playpen much anyway. And to my surprise the dometop cage is actually a bit cheaper than the playtop one even thought the dome looks like more material and labor to make.
It comes with four feeder doors/cups which I think is overkill but I guess nicer for symmetry. I think I would have still produced just 2 feeders but larger cups than 4 small ones as it is. I usually mix everything in a single bowl for the parrot rather than separating things by bowls. Also I use a water bottle so 2 bowls is definitely enough for me. I suppose for parrots that drink from a dish, 3 bowls is better so they went with 4. I don't have to leave all the bowls in so the extra doors and capability don't really hurt.
As I do not have the bird yet, I cannot give you the bird's review but I can tell you what I think of the cage compared to the powder coat cage I have for Kili. There are many things I like but some that I dislike by comparison. I think the steel cage feels sturdier but the aluminum one is lighter and somewhat more manageable (relative to sizes). The aluminum cage is very easy to assemble, it just snaps in place. I don't think the parrot can disassemble it though because gravity, friction, and shear strength hold everything together. I think there is a high premium for the aluminum material so unfortunately the cage suffers from some poorer quality/workmanship that may go into the powder coat ones. Like I mentioned the food cups and perches for a start. Also it just doesn't appear as neatly built. I'm sure once the bird gets to either kind of cage that's all over. But it just doesn't look the quality of the price you pay for it. I think in the long term it still comes out worth it and it will last longer but it just doesn't look finely produced. For the kind of money they charge, I think they should have upped it a little bit more but made a deluxe quality cage out of the concept rather than a very expensive economy kind of cage.
You can see the poor workmanship in how certain pieces don't come perfectly together without a gap or you can see in the picture that the food bowls are crooked and not level. The feeder doors are much lower on this cage than Kili's but the jury is still out whether I like that or not. Actually I think that will probably end up a good thing because Kili rarely uses the bottom of her cage. This way the parrot can use bottom for feeding and top the way it normally would anyway. The down size to low food bowls is that there is a better chance it will poop or drop things into them. Also the food bowls (plastic and metal replacement ones) are smaller than the ones on Kili's cage but the bird is bigger.
There was one thing broken on the cage when I got it but I didn't bother exchanging cause it was an easy fix for me. On the bottom shelf, one of the screws wasn't holding because the hole for the bolt was stripped too wide and the bolt wouldn't tighten. I have my own workshop so I easily found a screw just slightly thicker that I used to secure into the stripped hole but I can imagine this being a big problem for most other people. Basically the biggest failure of the manufacturer in this case I would say is that they are selling an expensive cage but at economy quality and configuration. I don't think people would notice $50/$100 more as a major increase but would appreciate an all inclusive well built cage for the money. It is hard to match the price of the quality to the perceived value because of the expensiveness of the aluminum. It is still a good cage and I recommended but still to this day I have not come across the "perfect parrot cage" that has every feature you'd want, well made, and still reasonably priced.
Here's a list of things I noticed about it already.
Dislike: -A bit wobbly -Poorer workmanship -Plastic cups -Machined dowels -Food bowls smaller than on Kili's smaller cage
Like: -Aluminum (material, no rust, light weight) -Very big door -Latching systems (both main door and food doors) -Extra space afforded by dome option -Color and options of colors -Seed catcher loops into the inside of cage so everything should fall in -Possible to "upgrade" to stainless food bowls -Bottom shelf -Easy assembly -Size and look