Given their friendly, playful nature, it’s no surprise why humans began domesticating ferrets over 2,500 years ago – but many pet owners are concerned: can ferrets eat cats, and is it possible for them to get along with cats?
While ferrets may have the capacity to kill and eat a cat if they have to, this is extremely rare and usually not a concern for most pet owners. Like many animals, ferrets and cats can coexist peacefully and even play together, although there’s always the potential for conflict between the two.
Here’s an in-depth guide to how well ferrets interact with cats and when they may become aggressive.
Ferrets may not be closely related to cats, but many ferret owners would argue that their ferrets behave just like kittens. These creatures are almost always curious, looking to play, and extremely active when they’re not napping the day away.
Generally, ferrets interact well with cats – but it usually depends on the temperament of both animals. Just like any pet, ferrets and cats can have different tolerances for other animals. While many ferrets are sociable and don’t mind interacting with cats, some may not always be comfortable with humans or other pets getting too close.
Still, many people are able to keep ferrets and cats in the same space without any issues. These animals often have no issues living in the same home together, and if they’re social enough, you may even find them playing together from time to time.
One potential issue that can arise is the way that ferrets play with cats. Ferrets may not mean any harm, but they love to bite when they play, and this could elicit an aggressive reaction in less tolerant cats.
Keep in mind that it’s not always easy to tell how your cat and ferret will interact with each other, and if they’re playing together for the first time, you’ll want to supervise any play sessions closely.
Are Ferrets Aggressive to Cats?
Placing ferrets together with cats is no more dangerous than introducing a cat to a new dog or vice versa – but since there’s the potential for aggressive behavior or fighting, it’s important to be on the lookout for signs of aggressive behavior (and to take steps to reduce the risk of aggressive behavior).
- Consider their past behavior: Before introducing your ferret and cat, make sure you consider the temperament of each animal first. Does your cat typically get along with other cats and animals? Does your ferret react negatively to new animals or people? Less tolerant ferrets and cats may need a much slower introduction.
- Make sure you’re introducing them somewhere neutral: Both ferrets and cats can be very territorial of rooms or places in your home that they view as theirs. Introducing them in a neutral spot, like a room that the ferret or cat doesn’t use very often, can help prevent territorial behavior during the introduction.
- Keep the distance: When they first see each other, it’s a good idea for you and another family member to each hold the ferret and cat in your hands. This way, you can keep an eye on each animal’s reaction and quickly separate them if they begin acting aggressively.
- Let them sniff each other: If they don’t seem to growl or hiss at each other while they’re in your hands, you can put the ferret and cat on the floor and let them sniff each other. Chances are, your cat may be unsure how to deal with the ferret, so you can expect some confusion from both animals.
- Intervene if necessary: If you begin to hear hissing from the ferret or growling from your cat, you should immediately separate them to avoid an altercation.
While cats tend to tolerate ferrets just like they’d tolerate dogs or other animals, there’s still the potential for cats to become aggressive with ferrets.
Even if the introduction goes well, you shouldn’t expect your cat to become best friends with your ferret. Most people who own these animals find that cats tend to tolerate ferrets and may occasionally play with them, but they don’t always bond with them the way they would with other cats.
Since ferrets enjoy biting during playtime, some cats may become annoyed and try to bite back or swat at the ferret with their claws.
Can Ferrets Kill Cats?
Do ferrets kill cats? While it’s unusual for ferrets to harm cats, there is always a small risk that your ferret could kill a cat if they get into a serious fight. Cats may have the upper hand because of their bigger size, but ferrets are quick and have sharp teeth – even if they don’t manage to kill a cat during the fight, they could seriously injure one.
Cats may have an appetite for rodents, but they don’t consider ferrets to be their prey, so they don’t have any natural instincts to hunt or eat them. Cats may become territorial if they find ferrets eating their food or playing with their toys, so make sure each animal has its own separate food bowl and stimulating toys suited for each one.
You can also purchase toys for both cats and ferrets to play with, especially if they enjoy playing together.
Placing ferrets and cats together is no more dangerous than introducing a cat to a dog – any animal combination has the potential to go wrong, and their tolerance usually depends on what each animal’s existing temperament is. As long as your cat and ferret are both sociable, there’s a good chance they will tolerate each other without aggressive behavior and possibly even play together.