Cats and hamsters are natural enemies. Hamsters are rodents and cats hunt/kill rodents. But whether these two small pets can ever live together in the same house depends on the safety measures taken by the owner.
Cats don’t get along with hamsters. Cats are predators and hamsters are prey, so your cat’s instincts will tell it to kill the hamster. They can coexist if your hamster stays in its cage, and you don’t let the cat into its room. If you take your hamster out, cat-proof the room first.
You cannot override your cat’s hunting instincts or your hamster’s fear of cats. But, by learning how to keep them apart securely, you may be able to keep a cat and a hamster safe in the same house. However, there are more compatible small pets that you should be considered.
Can Cats and Hamsters Be Friends?
Cats and hamsters won’t get along. Cats will attack hamsters when they see them. Even if your cat doesn’t immediately attack, it’s likely to if you leave the pair alone for an extended amount of time.
There is no way to get your cat and hamster to be friends. You may not think your cat is like the others, but they all have the same basic instincts. All cats enjoy hunting and eating hunted food.
According to Ecology and Evolution, outdoor cats kill 3 times more prey than they bring home.
However, you can also learn how to prevent this situation from arising. You can then keep both in the same home, even if they aren’t an ideal pairing.
Do Cats Chase Hamsters?
Cats chase hamsters as part of the hunting process. The cat will first spot its prey from a distance, before laying low against the ground. It will then sneak up on the prey until it’s close enough to leap.
If the prey spots the cat, it will run away. The cat will then run after it. If you left them alone, it’s possible that this would happen with your cat and your hamster. However, if you keep your hamster in its cage at all times when the cat is around, this can’t happen.
This is all dictated by your cat’s instincts. According to the National Academy of Sciences, cats were first domesticated in the Stone Age. But their instincts haven’t disappeared in the time since.
When a cat sees something small and fluffy like a hamster, its brain shifts into hunting mode. Its eyes will get wide, it will crouch down low, and if the prey runs away then it will give chase.
When a cat catches a hamster, it may try to break its neck. Cats hold down the prey down and twist the neck to one side.
Will My Cat Eat My Hamster?
If your cat killed your hamster, it may choose to eat it. Even cats that hunt for fun will eat some of the prey. It will leave the rest. What’s rarer is for the cat to eat the entire hamster, although this could happen.
In the wild, cats will eat the entirety of the rodent, coughing up any fur that they may have eaten as furballs. But your house cat is unlikely to do this unless it’s not getting enough food.
Can a Hamster Survive a Cat Attack?
Hamsters can survive cat attacks because house cats don’t always kill or eat their prey. This is a phenomenon that you frequently see with house cats.
The cat will first catch whatever it’s hunting for. It will keep the prey under its paw, then let it go. It will try to get away, but the cat will bat it with its paw to stop it escaping. After a few attempts, the rodent will stop trying.
The cat may then bat the prey back and forth for a while. It may kill it, or it may not. The reason for this behavior is that your cat isn’t hungry. Instead, it was hunting for fun, not because it needed to eat.
When a cat does this, it may not even harm the prey at all. You can step in and take the prey away before it’s killed.
However, much of the time, the prey is hurt badly. The process of the cat catching the hamster/other prey is often enough to hurt it, as the cat uses its teeth and claws to do so.
Can Cats and Hamsters Live in the Same House Together?
While cats and hamsters don’t get along, that doesn’t mean they can’t live in the same household. It is possible to keep both a hamster and a cat. However, you have to keep hamsters safe from the cat.
1/ Keep Your Hamster in Its Cage
If you plan on keeping both a cat and a hamster, they must be kept apart at all times. The easiest way to ensure that this is the case is to keep your hamster in its cage at all times.
Pick a hamster cage that doesn’t have wide bars. If the cat ever got into the hamster’s room, it could reach through the bars into the cage. But if you buy a cage which has bars that are close together, this won’t be an issue.
If you must ever take your hamster from its cage, only do so with the door entirely shut and the cat in another room. Ideally, the door should have a lock on the inside to stop any chance of the cat getting in.
2/ Keep Your Hamster in Another Room
It’s best for the health of your hamster if it never encounters your cat. Your hamster’s fight-or-flight adrenaline response kicks in when it sees a predator. This makes your pet stressed and unhappy.
Keeping your pets in different rooms also prevents your cat from watching your hamster’s cage. Cats enjoy watching potential prey animals, whether they’re rodents or birds. They will stare with wide eyes, their tails swishing from side to side. This, too, makes your hamster uncomfortable.
Pick a room of the house that your hamster’s cage stays in permanently. Then, take steps to ensure that the cat never gets inside that room. That could mean installing a small lock, for example. Or, you may want to stop your cat from getting to the basement/upstairs of your house entirely.
3/ Keep Your Hamster’s Cage in An Inaccessible Place
Of course, accidents can happen. A door can be left open when it shouldn’t be, e.g. by a guest or a child. When this happens, you need to know that your hamster is still safe.
That’s why you should keep your hamster’s cage on a surface of some kind that’s difficult to reach. Examples of surfaces that are difficult to reach include small tables like side tables or bookshelf shelves.
There are reasons why this is important:
- If the cage is kept nearby, then it may want to sit and watch the hamster. Cats like to do that with animals they could attack as prey.
- The cat may try to knock the cage off the surface. If you’ve had cats long, you’ll know that they like to paw things from the surface of tables for what seems like no reason. They can try to do the same thing to small hamster cages, too, hurting your hamster.
- Keeping the cage inaccessible stops a cat from attacking a hamster.
4/ Cat-Proof the Room If You Take Your Hamster Out
It’s your job to make your hamster’s life as comfortable and natural as possible. If you don’t, then your hamster will become unhappy, stressed, or depressed. So, that means allowing the hamster out of its cage on occasion.
However, you can’t do this without taking precautions. The cat could wander in and attack the hamster. And conversely, the hamster could try to escape from the room, and subsequently encounter the cat.
You have to ‘cat-proof’ the room if you want to take your hamster out. This means sealing up all the entrances and exits. Make sure that you:
- Keep the doors closed. If the door is open, the cat could wander in or the hamster could easily get out.
- Block off gaps under the doors. The gap under your door may be big enough for the hamster to squeeze under (or for a cat’s paw to get under). So, block off the gap with a comforter or a draft excluder.
- Keep the windows closed. Both your cat and your hamster could try to enter/exit the room through the window, so keep this closed too.
Keep an eye on the location of your cat when you take your hamster from its cage. If you’ve shut it in another bedroom, for example, you’ll know for a fact that it can’t disturb you.
Introducing your cat and hamster isn’t necessary. Your cat will smell your hamster’s cage, even from a distance. And if you allow your hamster out on occasion, then your cat will smell the places that it’s been.