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 cats and fish. While you see exotic fish as pets, your cat sees them as lunch.

Keep the fish aquarium as high as possible without easy climbing access. Apply sticky tape around the edge of the tank as cats dislike this sensation on their paws. Also, ensure that the tank/bowl has a lid with breathing holes firmly affixed.

If your cat won’t leave the fish tank alone, you’ll need to make modifications. We’ll explain why cats are so drawn to pet fish, and look at how to keep your cat out of a fish tank.

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

A fish tank brings your cat the same pleasure that it does you. While you relax by watching fish swim around their aquarium, cats find the movement of fish really exciting. This is not your cat’s fault as he’s a born predator. This leaves him with the natural instinct to hunt prey, which includes pet fish.

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

Cats rarely drink enough, and often reject plain tap water. The water in a fish tank is much more appealing as it has bubbles and moves about due to the activity of the fish.

How to Protect an Aquarium from Cats

Your cat will be driven to hunt fish. This means that he’ll try to clamber up to the aquarium and put his paws inside the tank to get a quick snack.

Even if your cat is unsuccessful, he’ll have fun trying to make a catch. 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 aquarium with a towel or blanket
  • Deterring your cat through unpleasant smells and 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 that he doesn’t get himself too worked up.

Which Room Will You House an Aquarium?

Don’t place your aquarium in a room that your cat likes to relax in. It will just get him 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 room that contains the fish tank, that will be beneficial. This way, you can prevent your cat from gaining access to the tank at night while you’re asleep.

Restrict Your Cat’s Access to the Aquarium

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 your cat can get to the aquarium, then he will. It’s 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 are no guarantees, though. A healthy cat can leap up to eight feet high, according to Pet Wisdom 101. Without an easy path, your cat may decide it’s not worth the risk or 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. He will have easy pickings.

The roof of the aquarium will need to be sturdy enough to hold a cat’s weight. Avoid using glass.

Apply Unappealing Scent and Touch Sensations

This can be done through smell, or by applying sticky tape to the aquarium’s roof. As felines have strong senses of smell, the scent of fish will always excite them. The reverse is true of citrus smells. Look into a lemon or lime scent diffuser, and keep it nearby to 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, so seek to avoid it.

Use Corrective Behavior Training

Training doesn’t involve yelling at your cat or physical intimidation. You’ll need to associate the fish tank with unpleasant sensations. Watch your cat from a position out of his sight. When he shows a little too much interest in the fish tank, try one of the following:

  • Shoot water from a squirt gun. Most cats loathe this and will hurriedly scurry away. Not all experts approve of this method, though, so do it at your own discretion.
  • Make a loud, hissing noise. This is a universal warning sound for felines, so he’ll associate trying to access the aquarium with danger.
  • Make another loud noise, such as blowing a whistle. Cats are easily startled by loud noises.

Your cat may still be able to hear or smell your presence. This means that he may not be fooled by any of these techniques and become unhappy with you for a while.

Cover the Aquarium up at Night

Cat gets up to after dark. You may assume that they’re snoozing by your side, but your pet is likely exploring the house. If you’re not there to stop him, he’ll find his way to the aquarium.

Switching the tank off isn’t an option. Throw a blanket or towel over the aquarium when you go to bed. If your cat cannot see the lights and moving fish, he’ll be far less interested.

How to Keep a Cat Away from a Fish Bowl

Not all piscine pets live in an aquarium. If you only have one, small fish, it may live in a bowl.

How can you protect goldfish from cats? How about betta fish? The steps for protecting pet fish from cats are largely the same as when dealing with a larger aquarium:

  1. Place the fishbowl in a secure location that isn’t accessible to a cat.
  2. Weigh the fishbowl down with a heavy ceiling/cover of some kind.
  3. Make the surrounding area unappealing to feline senses.
  4. Cover your fishbowl up at night.

Cats are more likely to gain access to a fishbowl than an aquarium. These decorations are more difficult to secure. Also, your cat may knock a bowl over it it’s not weighed down sufficiently.

Knocking over a fishbowl can be dangerous. It will kill the fish, but also leave broken glass on the floor/carpet. This can lead to cut paws and feet.

cat obsessed with fish tank

If possible, secure your fishbowl from below using superglue or something equally strong. If not an option, weigh it down with a heavy item.

Just ensure that your goldfish can still breathe. Don’t use a plate or similar. Your cat will flip this over. An emergency DIY solution could be a doily that’s held in place by a rubber band. These issues can be negated by getting a small, solo filtered tank.

Can Cats Eat Live Goldfish?

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

Goldfish are not toxic to cats. However, these fish do have small bones that could get lodged in a cat’s throat. Also, many types of raw fish carry harmful bacteria. Monitor your cat closely.

Are Betta Fish Poisonous to Cats?

A cat that eats a betta fish will not be poisoned. Just like goldfish, it doesn’t mean that betta fish are safe for a cat to eat. Any raw fish can ‘potentially’ cause health concerns for cats.

Just because betta fish are small, it doesn’t make them 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. There are reasons why:

  • 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.
  • This is why your cat drinks from the filter. He’s getting a flow of fresh, running water.
  • The fish in the aquarium gives the water an exciting and appealing smell. Cats often reject tap water because they detect the aroma of chlorine.
  • The fish tank is large and wide, so there are no edges to irritate your cat’s whiskers.

Provided you regularly clean the water in the aquarium, this will not harm your cat. It’s more likely to harm your fish. It will be terrified by this large predator looming over its home.

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

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

Make sure that your cat isn’t too cold from his dunking. He should have a body temperature of around 100 degrees Fahrenheit. If necessary, put a hot water bottle under his blanket.

Keeping a cat out of a fish tank can feel like a full-time job at times. If you take the right steps, you’ll keep both pets happy. Your cat and fish are both reliant on you.