cat obsessed with fish tank
Questions About Cats

How to Keep a Cat Out of a Fish Tank

Many cats are obsessed with fish tanks. This is not surprising, when we consider how cartoonists depict felines and fish bones. While you see exotic fish as pets, your cat sees them as lunch.

How do you protect pet fish from cats? You have to make the area inhospitable for felines. Keep any fish aquarium or bowl as high as possible, without easy climbing access. Apply sticky tape around the tank, as cats will not like this sensation on their paws. Also, ensure that the tank or bowl has a lid that is firmly affixed.

If your cat won’t leave the fish tank alone, you’ll need to take action. We will look at how to keep a cat out of a fish tank. Read on to learn how to keep your furry and finned pets safe.

Why Does My Cat Try to Get into the Fish Tank?

A fish tank brings your cat just as much pleasure as it does you. The stimulation is just for different reasons. While you relax by watching fish swim around their aquarium, cats find it exciting.

This is not your cat’s fault, and they’re not willfully wicked toward other pets. The truth is, cats are born predators. This leaves felines with natural instincts to hunt prey animals – which include fish.

As Animal Wellness Magazine explains, movement triggers hunting instincts in felines. Each time your fish moves, your cat takes a mental note and becomes increasingly excited.

In addition to this, you need to remember where fish live. Cats have a very complicated relationship with water. They rarely drink enough, and often reject plain tap water. The water in a fish tank, however, is much more appealing.

How to Protect an Aquarium from Cats

While you cannot blame your cat for their instincts, neither can you afford to indulge them. At least, not at the expense of your fish.

Your cat will be driven to hunt fish. This means that they’ll try to clamber up to their aquarium, and sink their paws inside. This is an attempt to scoop a fish from inside the tank as a snack.

Even if your cat is unsuccessful, they’ll have fun trying. The same cannot be said for your fish, which will become extremely stressed. This condition is frequently fatal to fish.

how to keep cat away from fish bowl

Thankfully, there are ways that you can keep cats out of a fish tank. These include:

  • Placing the aquarium as high as you can
  • Preventing access to the aquarium
  • Covering the roof of the aquarium
  • Hiding the sight of the aquarium with a towel or blanket
  • Deterring your cat through unpleasant smells or textures

Once you have successfully secured your tank, your cat can enjoy it from a safe distance. As PetFinder explains, aquariums are feline TV and keep your pet entertained for hours. There is no harm in your cat watching, provided they do not get themselves too aggravated.

In the meantime, let’s take a look at how to keep a cat out of a fish tank in more detail. Undertake each of these steps – in this order.

Which Room Will You House an Aquarium?

Your fish tank will fascinate your cat. This much is certain. This means that you may want to think about what room it’s located in.

Don’t place your aquarium in a room that your cat likes to relax in. It will just get them too excited. Equally, avoid placing an aquarium anywhere that your cat likes to eat, drink or play.

If you can close the door on the tank, that may help too. This way, you can prevent your cat from gaining access to the tank at night. This will not work if the room also hosts a litter tray, though.

Restrict Your Cat’s Access to the Aquarium

Yes, cats are graceful, and capable of climbing seemingly unlikely heights. They still need something to get them there, however.

Place your aquarium high up the wall, and don’t have any chairs or tables nearby. You’ll still need to able to reach the top for feeding and cleaning. If necessary, however, use a stool for this.

If your cat can get to the aquarium, they will. It’s part of your responsibility to make that as difficult as possible. If you don’t keep any furniture around your aquarium, your cat will struggle to access it.

There is no way of being certain. A healthy cat can leap up to eight feet high, according to Pet Wisdom 101. Without an easy path, however, your cat may decide it’s not worth the effort.

Place a Hood on the Roof of the Aquarium

Once your fish tank is installed, you must place a secure roof on it.

Failing to install a roof on an aquarium is like inviting your cat to an all-you-can-eat buffet. They will have easy pickings, and likely drink the tank dry, too.

The roof of the aquarium will need to be sturdy enough to hold a cat’s weight, too. Avoid glass for this reason.

Apply Unappealing Scent and Touch Sensations

You can also make the fish tank unappealing to your cat. This can be done through smell, or by applying sticky tape to the aquarium’s roof.

As felines have astonishingly strong senses of smell, the scent of fish will always excite them. The opposite is true of citrus, however. Look into a lemon or lime scent diffuser, and keep it near your fish tank. This will deter your cat from approaching.

If your cat does make it onto the roof of the aquarium, apply double-sided sticky tape. Cats hate the sensation of stickiness on their paws. Thankfully, however, this tape is not strong enough to do permanent damage!

Use Corrective Behavior Training

If your cat remains fascinated with accessing the aquarium, you’ll need to do some training.

This does not mean yelling at your cat. It certainly doesn’t mean any physical interaction. You’ll need to associate the fish tank with unwelcome sensation.

Watch your cat from a position out of their sight. When they make a play for the fish tank, try any of the following.

  • Shoot water from a squirt gun. Most cats loathe this, and will hurriedly scurry away.
  • Make a loud, hissing noise. This is a universal warning sound for felines, and they’ll associate the aquarium with danger.
  • Make another loud noise, such as blowing a whistle. Cats are easily startled by loud noises. If they think the aquarium makes such a racket, they’ll stay away.

Your cat may still be able to hear or smell you. This means they may not be fooled by these techniques. Alternatively, they may know that you were responsible, and sulk for an hour or so. This remains better than the alternative, however.

Cover the Aquarium up at Night

Do you know what your cat gets up to after dark? You may assume that they’re snoozing by your side all night. In truth, your pet is likely exploring the house. If you’re not there to stop them, this could include the aquarium.

One way around this is to throw a blanket or towel over the aquarium when you go to bed. Switching it off is not an option. If your cat cannot see the lights and moving fish, however, they’ll be far less interested. This will also benefit your fish, which will appreciate the darkness.

How to Keep a Cat Away from a Fish Bowl

Of course, not all piscine pets live in a glamorous and substantial aquarium. If you only have one, small fish, they may dwell in a single bowl.

How can you protect goldfish from cats? How about betta fish? Don’t be fooled by the other, popular name of the latter. The moniker Siamese fighting fish was bestowed as this fish fights their own kind, not felines.

In honesty, the steps are largely the same as when dealing with a larger aquarium:

  1. Place the fish bowl in a secure location, which is not accessible to a cat.
  2. Weigh the fish bowl down with a heavy ceiling of some kind.
  3. Make the surrounding area wholly unappealing to feline senses.
  4. Cover your fish bowl up at night.

In truth, cats are more likely to gain access to a fish bowl than an aquarium. These decorations are more difficult to secure completely. What’s more, your cat may knock a bowl over it it’s not weighed down sufficiently.

This is why it’s particularly important that your cat does not reach a fish bowl. Knocking over such an item can be hugely dangerous. It will kill the fish, but also leave broken glass on the ground. This can lead to cut paws and feet.

cat obsessed with fish tank

If at all possible, secure your fish bowl from below using superglue, or something equally potent. If this is not an option, weigh it down with as heavy an item as possible.

Just ensure that your goldfish can still breathe. Don’t use a plate or similar for this. Your cat will flip this over. An emergency DIY suggestion could be a doily, held in place by a rubber band.

Of course, these issues can be negated by investing in a small, solo filtered tank. If this is the course of action that you take, follow the same advice as above. As well as being safer, this will also greatly boost the quality of life of your fish.

Can Cats Eat Live Goldfish?

If your cat does gain access to the bowl, it won’t end well for the goldfish. The result will be a curious playtime for the feline at best. At worst, the fish will become a snack.

If your cat does eat a goldfish, keep an eye on them. The goldfish is not toxic to cats as a rule. However, these fish do have small bones that could get lodged in a cat’s throat. Also, many types of raw fish carry bacteria.

If your cat starts to act out of sorts after eating a goldfish, see a vet. Allow us to reiterate, however, that preventing this from happening at all is always preferable. Even if the fish isn’t eaten, it will likely die through stress and fright.

Are Betta Fish Poisonous to Cats?

Just like a goldfish, a cat that eats a betta fish will not be poisoned.

Again, however, just like a goldfish, it doesn’t mean that they are safe. Any raw fish can cause significant health concerns for cats.

Just because betta fish are small, it doesn’t make it harmless. A cat can easily choke on this fish.

My Cat Keeps Drinking from the Fish Tank

Another curious habit of felines is drinking the water from a fish tank. Why would they possibly want to do this?

There are a handful of reasons:

  • Cats find still water boring. The fish swimming in an aquarium makes the water move. That’s why you often find cats drinking from the toilet bowl, for example.
  • This also explains why your cat drinks from the filter. They will be receiving a constant stream of fresh, running water.
  • The fish in the aquarium give the water an exciting and appealing smell. Cats often reject tap water because they detect the aroma of chlorine.
  • The fish tank is very large and wide. This means there are no edges to irritate your cat’s whiskers.

Provided you regularly clean the water in your aquarium, this will not harm your cat. In truth, it’s more likely to damage your fish. They will be terrified by the predator looming over their home.

The only way to stop your cat drinking from the fish tank is removing their access. Follow the steps that we outlined elsewhere to achieve this. This is advisable, for the sake of your fish. There is also the risk of falling into the aquarium if it doesn’t have a lid.

What Should I Do if My Cat Falls in the Fish Tank?

If your cat is drinking from the fish tank, there is always a chance that they’ll fall in. Rescue them ASAP, for their sake and that of the fish.

As long as your cat did not swallow too much water, they should be fine. Fish flakes are not toxic to cats. Just retrieve your pet, and dry them off.

Make sure that your cat isn’t too cold from their dunking, either. They should run a body temperature of around 100 degrees Fahrenheit. If necessary, offer them a hot water bottle.

In many respects, this experience will be more traumatic for the fish. Check that they are OK, as such a shock can be harmful. If all animals are unharmed, try to see the positives. Your cat is unlikely to explore the aquarium again for a while.

Keeping a cat out of a fish tank can feel like a full-time job at times. If you take the right steps, however, you’ll keep both sets of pets happy. It’s imperative that you do just this. Remember that your cat and fish are equally reliant on you.