can cats be friends with bearded dragons?
Questions About Cats

Do Cats Get Along with Bearded Dragons? [A Complete Guide]

Cats are playful, persistent hunters. That can make it difficult to pair them with other animals, especially if the new pet is smaller. Docile, easy-going, and friendly, bearded dragons are a much-loved pet. However, it’s also a kind of lizard, and cats are known to hunt them. That can leave you afraid that your cat will attack your bearded dragon.

Cats and bearded dragons get along. You’ll find the two pets sunbathing, cuddling, playing, and napping together. That’s because bearded dragons are too large to be considered normal prey, unlike other lizards. They also smell and move differently and react to stress in a different way to birds or rodents.

You should avoid pairing a bearded dragon with certain cats. Kittens, aggressive cats, or cats with a strong hunting instinct may be dangerous. Bearded dragons are tolerant but may still get stressed to the point of illness if they’re antagonized at all hours. Likewise, they are mildly venomous in a way that’s threatening to kittens. To make sure the cat and bearded dragon mesh well, keep them clean, introduce them carefully, and supervise them at all times.

Can Bearded Dragons Live With Cats?

There are many households where both beardies and cats coexist peacefully. You can find pictures and videos online of these pets spending quality time together:

  • Cuddling
  • Sunbathing by the window
  • Lounging on each other
  • Napping side-by-side
  • Playing with toys together

Although you’d expect the bearded dragon to become the prey of a cat, this isn’t the case. Both of these pets tend to mind their own business. Although cats may be tempted into harassing smaller animals, they rarely find bearded dragons interesting enough to antagonize.

Are Bearded Dragons Good With Cats?

If you’re thinking about adding another animal to your cat household, bearded dragons are a good choice. This is mainly due to the gentle nature of beardies. They:

  • Are not aggressive
  • Tend to keep to themselves
  • Don’t prod or bother other animals out of curiosity
  • Won’t chase or nip at anything they don’t see as prey

Because of this, your bearded dragon will have little reason to bother your cat. Any interest that it shows, if any, will be friendly and curious. Paired with a cat’s indifference, these two animals can live under the same roof without fights breaking out or even signs of aggression.

Of course, you are dealing with animals, so the chance of a fight is never 0%. However, compared to other matches, cats and bearded dragons make a peaceful pair.

can cats live with bearded dragons?

Why Do Cats Like Bearded Dragons?

Bearded dragons and cats get along because their personalities mesh well. That may be surprising since cats aren’t exactly known for their friendliness with smaller animals. So, what’s in it for the cat?

Friendly

Bearded dragons are considered one of the friendliest animals, even beyond the reptile world. They are known for their gentle nature and show their love by softly nudging other creatures with their head. Because of this docile approach, cats will have little reason to see beardies as a threat.

Tolerant

Bearded dragons are also some of the most tolerant animals in the reptile world. This makes them perfect for young kids and cats, both of which may pod at them curiously. Beardies aren’t known to lash out or be aggressive, so they won’t mind interacting with an inquisitive cat.

Cats will appreciate this tolerance when they first meet bearded dragons. Felines need time to explore and adjust and aren’t immediately accepting of new animals. For a timid cat, a bearded dragon’s easy-going demeanor can make for a quick friendship.

Affectionate

Bearded dragons love affection. They do best when snuggled up against their owners or lounging on your lap. A few gentle rubs on their legs, back, and ears will be appreciated. For a cuddly cat, bearded dragons make an ideal companion. They can lounge in the sun, cozy up in a pile, or snooze in your lap together.

Plays Together

Unlike most other animals paired with cats, bearded dragons will be up for playing. Just make sure the two have been properly introduced and feel comfortable with one another.

A bearded dragon can be spirited, and its playing style will go well with that of a cat. This playtime may not look especially engaging, but it can be a great time for both animals.

How Do Cats React To Bearded Dragons?

When first introduced, cats will generally be interested in your bearded dragon and then quickly lose interest. This is mainly due to the calm personality that bearded dragons have. Cats quickly grow bored of objects that don’t move or make noise. Other reasons for a cat to get bored include:

Size And Shape

Bearded dragons tend to be much larger than a cat’s average prey. While felines chase and eat reptiles in the wild, this larger species will sit outside of a cat’s natural hunting instincts. To reinforce that, bearded dragons are definitely the wrong shape. Cats prefer birds, rodents, or small, thin lizards, all of which a bearded dragon is not.

Movement Patterns

Most importantly, bearded dragons behave differently from prey. Beardies move in angular, jerky motions rather than the quick and fluid movements of most cat prey, like mice or birds. Bearded dragons also tend to stay completely still for long periods of time, which can easily bore most cats.

Reaction To Stress

Cats have excellent hunting instincts and quickly pursue anything that runs. Luckily, bearded dragons are one of the calmest pets you can own. If they feel scared or cornered, instead of fighting back or taking off in a run, your bearded dragon is likely to stand its ground and try to intimidate the cat.

When they are threatened, bearded dragons will puff up the underside of their throat. This looks much like a beard, a behavior that the bearded dragon is named after. The feline will be confused, back off, and wait. When confronted with a long staring game that the bearded dragon is likely to win, the conflict will dissipate.

Other than ignoring the reptile, friendlier cats may also want to cuddle with bearded dragons. Cats will love the texture of a bearded dragon’s skin, and bearded dragons will stay perfectly still, which cats will definitely appreciate. Very friendly beardies may even come up to a cat and ask for cuddles.

Can Cats Be Friends With Bearded Dragons?

Cats and bearded dragons not only get along, but they can also even become best friends. When it comes to interspecies friendships, they’re actually one of the best-matched pairs. A well-adjusted cat and bearded dragon will have personalities that go well with each other. When introduced properly, the two will be happy to:

  • Sunbathe together
  • Play together
  • Explore your home together
  • Nap together
  • Snuggle with you as a pair

Of course, there are still chances for a fight to break out and for both animals to harm each other. This is especially true for the bearded dragons, which have very few defenses against a cat’s claws and teeth. However, when they are introduced correctly and supervised, there is very little for owners to worry about.

Can Cats Get Sick From Bearded Dragons?

Bearded dragons will not actively harm your cat. However, like all pets, bearded dragons can carry dangerous viruses and bacteria. According to Acta Veterinaria Scandinavia, the most impactful way bearded dragons can harm your cat is by introducing parasites.

With that said, the types of parasites that target bearded dragons are different from those that attach to cats, dogs, or even humans. That means the likelihood of any being passed around is low. It can happen, but it’s not a prevalent issue.

This is especially true if your pets are kept clean and healthy. This will equip them with a strong immune system that can fight against parasites. With the right care, your bearded dragon is very unlikely to make your cat sick.

Another great way to prevent parasites in your bearded dragon is to bring them to a vet for a yearly check-up. Your reptile vet will perform a fecal examination to determine if there are any parasites. This will also include an examination for mites and ticks, which could be transferred to (or from) your cat.

Symptoms of parasites include diarrhea and weight loss. If you think that your bearded dragon has a parasitic infection, bring it to the vet.

Can Cats Get Salmonella From Bearded Dragons?

Much like parasites, bearded dragons can also transfer salmonella bacteria. Salmonella is commonly found in raw meat and undercooked eggs. It’s prevalent in reptiles of all kinds, and it shows few symptoms in these creatures.

A healthy bearded dragon can live with the contagion just fine, but it has negative effects on humans and other animals. Symptoms of salmonella infection include:

  • Fever 
  • Diarrhea
  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting

It can be transferred from one organism that carries it to another. Bearded dragons, and many species of lizards, shed the bacteria in their feces. If your cat develops salmonella after interacting with its habitat or poop, your bearded dragon may be responsible. With that said, it’s a rare occurrence.

You can easily avoid your cat getting sick by keeping both of their environments clean. Be sure to:

  • Clean up any poop your bearded dragon leaves behind
  • Clean its tank regularly
  • Wash your hands before and after dealing with the lizard
  • Discourage your cat from licking the bearded dragon (which it’s unlikely to do anyhow)
  • Clean the reptile frequently

A quick bath prior to your cat and bearded dragon’s play time should do wonders to prevent any accidental infections!

Are Bearded Dragons Venomous To Cats?

Although it surprises many owners, bearded dragons are venomous. This venom is not potent enough to harm people, but it is enough to kill small pets. For this reason, it’s important to make sure the bearded dragons won’t interact with kittens. Their faster metabolism, smaller size, and delicate immune system are more vulnerable to the bite.

Adult cats can survive a bite from a bearded dragon. Some may even shrug it off without your noticing it. To be sure, you should monitor the cat after it’s had a nasty tangle with a bearded dragon. If it manifests signs of lethargy or illness, contact your vet.

Bearded dragons very rarely bite. In fact, they bite so rarely that they were considered non-venomous until 2015. At this point, Australian scientists discovered they do secrete a mild venom when attacking certain prey or defending themselves. It’s such a small dose that it’s rarely harmful to large animals or people.

Additionally, most bearded dragons only have one venom gland. Only the eastern bearded dragon has two, so repeated venomous bites are unlikely. In fact, the greatest danger will be any bacteria from your reptile’s mouth, according to the Journal of Pure Applied Microbiology. Most cats will be able to weather this just fine, and conflicts will be rare. Keep an eye out, but don’t worry too much.

Will Cats Attack Bearded Dragons?

A cat is perfectly able to attack your bearded dragon. If it does, the reptile will have little way of defending itself. Cats have sharp teeth, semi-powerful bites, and deadly claws. Although bearded dragons have thick skin and a bite of their own, this won’t stand up well to a dedicated cat.

As such, you should try to avoid fights at all costs. That’s best accomplished by pairing the right cat with your new bearded dragon. Some cats that won’t get along, and it’s more likely if:

Your Cat Has Strong Hunting Instincts

Bearded dragons do not look like a cat’s normal prey, nor do they behave like it. However, cats with a strong prey instinct can mistake a bearded dragon for food.

If your cat constantly hunts birds and mice or is especially aggressive, it may be unwise to get a bearded dragon. If you do anyhow, be sure to keep both pets separated at all times.

You Have A Kitten

Kittens are more playful and active, prone to antagonizing, prodding, and even biting as a way to play. This may stress out your bearded dragon, exhaust it, or even harm it.

Considering their size, there is very little that kittens can do to a bearded dragon, but stress can lead to all sorts of illnesses. It may even cause your bearded dragon to deal out a venomous bite, which can be harmful to the kitten.

Your Cat Doesn’t Like Other Animals

Some cats hate sharing their space with other animals, plain and simple. Whether it’s another cat, a dog, a smaller animal, or a bigger one, some cats will be aggressive toward newcomers. If your feline is highly defensive of its space, scares off other animals, or starts fights with other pets, it’s usually unwise to get a bearded dragon.

Do Cats Stress Out Bearded Dragons?

The average adult cat will not stress a bearded dragon. These reptiles are tolerant, and cats easily get bored with toys, prey, or friends that aren’t very active. Because of this, the most stressful time will be during the introduction period, and that won’t upset your bearded dragon very much. The cat will sniff, investigate, and maybe prod the reptile and then give its space. The bearded dragon will weather this just fine if it’s bothered at all.

That changes when your bearded dragon has to deal with a more persistent cat. If it consistently jumps at, prods, smacks, or rushes the bearded dragon, this can startle it. Being on high alert for such an active feline can begin to stress out your reptile daily. Since it lives an otherwise docile life, that can be too much interaction for it to handle.

When stressed, bearded dragons may become defensive, refuse to eat food, or try to hide. As the strain on its body continues, its immune system may decline. This can make the reptile vulnerable to sicknesses, parasites, or disease.

will cats attack bearded dragons?

How To Introduce A Cat To A Bearded Dragon

Although they get along, bearded dragons and cats shouldn’t be thrown together willy-nilly. They are more likely to fight, avoid, or antagonize each other if they’re introduced poorly. To create a successful friendship, you should take steps to make them comfortable, accepting, and understanding of one another.

Prepare Your Location

At their first meeting, your bearded dragon should be kept in a small cage. If you only have a tank, then consider placing your cat in its own carrier. You want them to be separated but still able to smell each other. This will ensure any impulsive reactions don’t turn out poorly.

Allow your cat to approach the bearded dragon or vice versa. The cat will begin sniffing and monitoring how your bearded dragon moves. The reptile is unlikely to react, but rest assured that it’s also watching the cat.

This will establish the first impression and help the two animals feel more comfortable with each other. They won’t later be surprised to find a new smell and a new creature wandering around nearby. When that’s true, they’re unlikely to fight, flee from each other, or get stressed.

Let The Animals Meet Under Supervision

If the cat and bearded dragon react calmly, then allow them to meet outside of their enclosures. At this point, it’s best to enlist the help of another person, so you can each hold one animal. If you can’t find help, then hold the bearded dragon and let the cat approach. Be ready to tug the reptile away if the cat acts aggressively.

With each pet secured, bring the two animals closer together. Start at a distance and move in, so neither pet feels rushed or threatened. Let the cat and bearded dragon sniff each other. Continue doing this until both animals feel perfectly comfortable and show no signs of hesitation or aggression.

Let Them Play

Once both your bearded dragon and cat feel comfortable with each other, you can let them play. Repeat the last step and allow both animals to sniff each other. Then, lay down a comfortable blanket, and place some toys that your cat and bearded dragon are familiar with.

Set both animals on the blanket next to each other. Let the cat and bearded dragon react to the other’s presence. This can mean more sniffing or just lying down. Both should look comfortable or slightly indifferent. If any conflicts arise, separate the two and return to the previous step.

Cats and bearded dragons are compatible pets. As long as you supervise any playtimes, introduce them properly, and pick the right temperaments, they’ll get along well.