It’s National Ferret Day! These fun, furry creatures have become popular as pets since the 1980s. If you’re thinking of adding a ferret to your household, you should first consider what other pets are at home—cats, for instance. So do cats and ferrets get along? We’re happy to report that, the majority of the time, the answer is yes!
Cats and ferrets can make a good team
Unlike cats and guinea pigs or cats and rabbits, cats and ferrets can get along quite well. These two species are similar in several ways: They’re both hunters, obligate carnivores, and crepuscular. Ferrets can even be trained to use a litter box! (We don’t, however, recommend a Litter-Robot for a ferret, as it is designed for cats that weigh at least 5 pounds.)
Cats and ferrets often behave in similar ways, as well. Because they’re both predators, they’re not afraid to defend themselves if feeling attacked. Luckily, they’re usually more interested in “play fighting” than the real thing.
Fun fact, you might even say cats and ferrets are similarly named: Ferrets are the domesticated form of the European polecat.
Err on the side of caution
That said, cats do have a predatory advantage over ferrets: Cats are larger (ferrets only weigh up to 4 pounds) and wield sharp claws. Don’t get us wrong: With sharp teeth, ferrets can hold their own. Regardless, you’ll want to carefully supervise the introduction of the two species.
Deciding whether cats and ferrets can get along in your particular household depends on both animals’ temperaments and, to some degree, age of introduction.
How to introduce cats and ferrets
Although cats and ferrets can make a better team than many animal species, you’ll still want to take their introduction very slowly. Note: Be especially careful if you have a young ferret and an adult cat, or vice-versa (a kitten and an adult ferret).
The best time of introduction may actually be when both animals are babies, so that they are raised interacting with each other. Regardless of age, here is how to introduce cats and ferrets:
- Allow your cat to investigate while the ferret is in his cage. Let the cat watch and even sniff the cage.
- Next, let your ferret out of the cage while keeping your cat restrained. Do this when both animals are feeling relaxed. Either keep your cat in a carrier or in a leashed harness.
- Once you’ve had several successful interactions while one or both animals were caged or leashed, allow them to interact freely while your cat is still leashed. That way you can restrain your cat if there is sudden trouble. Make sure the ferret can escape into his cage if there is need.
- When you’re feeling confident that the cat and ferret can get along, allow them to play without restraint—but make sure someone is around to step in if the animals become aggressive.
Constant surveillance may not be needed, of course. However, allowing both animals to roam freely without supervision is not recommended.
General tips on having cats and ferrets in the house
- Avoid unsupervised interaction, even after your cat and ferret seem to get along.
- Again, even if they seem to get along, provide each pet with their own space. Ferrets especially should have a separate room where their cage and belongings sit as a safe haven. If you cannot give the ferret their own room, cat-proof an area of the house for the ferret’s cage.
- Feed cats and ferrets separately to avoid food aggression, particularly since they have similar diets.
- Keep their toys separate to avoid play aggression.
- Make sure both of the animals are vaccinated as is appropriate for their age.
- Spay and neuter both cats and ferrets. Not only is it better for both animals long-term, spaying and neutering will help reduce aggression and territorial instincts.
So, do cats and ferrets get along? Now you know there’s a good chance that they just might!
Source: The Spruce Pets
Cover photo by Steve Tsang on Unsplash