Keeping pets of different kinds together can be difficult because they can fight. Both ferrets and cats are playful and territorial, so that’s a concern.
Ferrets and cats like each other. They are both predator species, and not too dissimilar in size, so they shouldn’t fight often. They can even play and cuddle together. Give your cat and ferret their own spaces and feed them separately to prevent battles over territory.
Cats like the company of ferrets. They seem to get along well. There are many reports from pet owners that they can play together safely.
Table of Contents:
- 1 How Do Cats and Ferrets Interact?
- 2 Can Ferrets Live with Cats?
- 2.1 Can Cats Get Sick from Ferrets?
- 2.2 Can Cats and Ferrets Share a Litter Box?
- 2.3 Can Cats and Ferrets Mate?
- 2.4 Introducing Cats to Ferrets for the First Time
- 2.5 Tips on Keeping Cats and Ferrets Together
How Do Cats and Ferrets Interact?
Cats and ferrets can get along well. They can play together, cuddle together, and live together. And more than only tolerating each others’ company, they can get along well. Ferrets prefer cats to any other kind of household pet, apart from other ferrets. They are highly compatible with cats.
Cats and ferrets can also fight. Whether they will fight depends on the temperaments of the cat and of the ferrets. It also depends on whether the ferrets are juveniles, and whether your cats are kittens. When they fight, they can hurt each other.
Do Cats Like Ferrets?
As for why cats and ferrets can get along so well, that’s less clear. One reason is likely that they are both predator animals.
When predator animals are kept as pets with prey animals, the predator may attack the other pet. But because both are predators, ferrets and cats get along better.
Adult cats and ferrets also aren’t too dissimilar in size. While ferrets are smaller, they aren’t lots smaller. That means that the cat won’t see the ferret as a natural prey animal.
As for ferrets, they seem comfortable around cats too. If anything, it’s the ferret which is normally the more playful. The cat has to try and keep up with the ferret’s playful nature.
Do Cats Attack Ferrets?
It is possible for a cat to attack a ferret. Cats have natural predator instincts that can kick in when you don’t expect them to.
This is especially the case if you haven’t properly introduced the pair to each other. If you put them in the same room without preparing each first, the cat may attack.
As for how it would attack, it would likely be wary at first. It wouldn’t leap straight at the ferret. It would keep its distance and bat at the ferret with its paw, as cats do with other animals they’re unsure of.
If the ferret retaliated or tried to come closer, the cat could fully attack with claws and teeth.
What’s more likely to happen is that the pair are wary of each other at first. Until they know each other better, they will leave each other alone.
It’s unlikely for either to launch an attack on the other out of nowhere. And this problem can be avoided if you introduce the pair properly.
Do Cats Kill Ferrets?
Again, it’s possible but unlikely for a cat to kill a ferret. This is especially the case when both pets are adults.
That’s because ferrets are predator animals too. So, if your cat did try to attack your ferret, it could defend itself better than a cat’s normal ‘prey’.
What’s more worrying is when an adult cat attacks a baby or juvenile ferret. The fact that the young ferret is much smaller can make the cat’s hunting instinct kick in. And, of course, the juvenile ferret cannot defend itself as well as an adult can.
However, with proper training and adherence to introduction guidelines, you can avoid this issue.
Do Cats Eat Ferrets?
House cats rarely eat much of what they hunt. That’s because they get plenty of food from their owners. With a belly full of regular cat food, they don’t need to eat what they catch.
This means that if your cat killed your pet ferret, it likely wouldn’t eat it. It may play with it for a while, and could eat a small part of it, but not all of it.
There are certain species of cat which eat ferrets in the wild. Bobcats, for example, do. But these cats are much bigger than regular house cats, and of course, need to hunt to survive.
So, while these cats do eat the ferrets they catch, a regular house cat won’t.
Can Ferrets Live with Cats?
Ferrets can live safely with cats. A ferret and a cat can get along well, with a minimum chance of fighting or other issues.
Can Cats Get Sick from Ferrets?
It’s possible for animals of different species to infect each other in some way. There are certain conditions that can affect both cats and ferrets:
- Worms. Worms live in the gut and are passed on through feces. If the cat’s or ferret’s litter tray is available for the other to find, worms/eggs could pass between them.
- Fleas. There are many different species of flea. Many can affect more than one species of animal.
- Flu/respiratory infection. Again, there are many different kinds of flu. Some can pass between different species.
According to Veterinary Clinics of North America (Small Animal Practice), flu has been under-recognized as a condition that can affect cats. But they state that certain kinds can, alongside regular respiratory infections.
All that being said, this isn’t of particular concern. It’s no more likely that a condition will pass from a ferret to a cat than it is likely for a condition to pass between two cats, or two ferrets.
Sharing a litter box is a possibility, but not a common occurrence. You can train both of your pets to use the same litter box.
However, this isn’t a good idea. As stated above, it is possible for worms to pass from ferrets to cats, or vice versa. By allowing your pets to share a litter box, you make this much more likely to happen.
Also, your pets need their own space. It’s recommended that you keep a litter tray in your ferret’s cage, so that it can go to the toilet in its own space. The same applies to your cat. So, it’s best not to encourage this behavior.
Can Cats and Ferrets Mate?
Cats and ferrets cannot mate because they are different species. All breeds of house cats are descended and considered the same species (Felis catus). They are part of the family Felidae, like other cat species.
Ferrets, on the other hand, are a domesticated form of the European polecat. They are a mammal in the same genus as the weasel, which isn’t closely related to the cat.
Introducing Cats to Ferrets for the First Time
If you want to have a ferret and a cat, you can’t throw them in a room together and hope for the best.
You have to introduce the pair in a certain way. This will prevent fighting. Briefly, you have to take the following steps:
Create a Space for Your Ferret/Cat
Before you introduce your pets to each other, you must establish a space in your home for each. Both your ferret and your cat need a safe space they can retreat to when frightened or unhappy.
For your ferret, this is its cage. In its cage should be its own toys, litter box, and food. You want your ferret to feel secure and happy whenever it’s in its cage, so put it in a room that the cat isn’t allowed into.
This will stop the cat from bothering the ferret when it’s in its cage, and stop the room smelling like the cat.
Your cat also needs a part of the home to call its own. Sometimes, it will want to get away from the ferret and from you. So, pick a corner of a quiet room and put its bed there, perhaps alongside some toys.
Ensuring that each of your pets has its own space is key to them getting along. It means that if interacting with the ferret becomes too stressful, your cat can head to its quiet place. This helps avoid fighting.
Allow the Pair to Smell Each Other
Take your ferret and let it loose in a room your cat sometimes goes in. According to DMV360, it has a strong sense of smell, so it will sense that the cat is sometimes there.
Then, after putting the ferret back into its cage, you can put your cat into the room. Ferrets have a strong odor, so it’s likely that your cat will immediately smell that your ferret was there.
Keep an eye on your pets’ behavior. They should sniff around, and hopefully not look too alarmed.
This indicates that the pair are becoming aware of each others’ presence. This prepares each pet for finally meeting the other.
Introduce the Pair in Their Cages
Keep your ferret in its cage and put your cat in its cat carrier. You can then leave the cat in its carrier next to your ferret’s cage for a few minutes.
The purpose of this is that the two can observe each other without the chance of fighting occurring. Each will now learn what the smell that they smelled earlier was the other pet.
Introduce the Pair Face to Face
Each step has prepared your cat and ferret to meet each other face to face. So, when you do introduce them, there shouldn’t be an issue.
Have your pets in their carriers in a third room (neither the ferret’s room nor the cat’s room). Then, let them both out at the same time.
If the pair are both of good temperament, then they may walk up to each other and sniff each other. If they aren’t, they may sit at a distance.
You don’t need to do anything to encourage them to play together and get to know each other. They will do so on their own, over time.
Tips on Keeping Cats and Ferrets Together
Even once they’ve been introduced for a long time, there are still things you need to do. You need to feed your cat and ferret separately, for example, so that they don’t fight over food.
Supervise the Pair
This means watching over the pair as they interact, e.g. when you first introduce them. Monitor their behavior to see whether they treat each other as friends or not.
This applies even if the pair have been friends for a long time. A regular game can turn into a fight when you’re not watching. If you’re supervising your pets, you can break them up if they do attack each other.
You don’t need to do anything special when supervising your pets. All you need to do is be in the room watching them interact.
This shouldn’t be too much of a chore because it’s fun to watch a cat and a ferret play together anyway.
Feed the Pair Separately
Once your cat and ferret are introduced to each other, and enjoy each others’ company, you may think you can let them loose to do as they wish. But that’s not the case. You still have work to do to make sure that the pair get along.
One thing you have to do is feed your pets separately. If there’s one thing that pets fight over more than anything, it’s food. This stems from the animals’ evolutionary history, where in the wild, they were in competition with other animals.
As pets, this isn’t a problem. But your pets don’t realize that. To avoid fighting over food, feed your pets in different parts of the house. Ideally, you should put your ferret back in its cage to feed it.
This is an especial problem. According to the Journal of Animal Physiology and Animal Nutrition, ferrets and cats both enjoy a high-fat diet. So, they may enjoy eating one another’s food.
Avoid Sharing Toys
This is a similar issue to that of sharing food. Pets can fight over toys: one pet might want to play with something, when the other comes along and tries to play with it too.
Both pets can become jealous of the other, but also, both pets can get overexcited with the toy and go on to fight. You should avoid sharing toys between your pets unless you’re sure there won’t be a problem.
Aside from that, use common sense. Don’t aggravate your pets, for example, because this would encourage fighting. Follow good care guidelines for both cats and ferrets, and the advice above, and your pets should get along well.