The simple answer to this question is undoubtedly ‘no’. A cat has natural predatory instincts, so it is both unrealistic and unreasonable to expect it not to attack small pet mammals, such as hamsters, guinea pigs, mice, rats and even rabbits. That’s not to say that it is impossible for cats to co-exist harmoniously with any of these animals, but it is not at all common and careful precautions should therefore always be taken to protect the smaller animals.
It is extremely rare for a cat and a mouse to co-exist in perfect harmony within the same household. But that’s not to say that it can never happen — just look at these two!
A domestic cat’s instinct is to hunt simply for the sake of hunting, rather than to satisfy its hunger for food.
A domestic queen teaches her kittens how to hunt in a graduated series of sessions. First of all, she carries home prey that she has already killed and eats it in front of her kittens. Then she brings home killed prey and allows them to eat it. And finally, she brings home live prey and allows them to kill it.
The domestic cat displays the same stages of the feline hunting attack as the tiger: the slink run, the final charge and the pounce.
The cat is a natural hunter or, to put it more specifically, it is a carnivorous predator.
A cat learns its hunting skills and killing techniques from an early age through close observation of its mother and other cats, and a good teacher usually makes a good hunter. It is hardly surprising, therefore, that a cat’s natural instinct when confronted by a small pet mammal, such as a hamster or guinea pig, should be to kill it, nor that it knows exactly what to do in terms of stalking, pouncing and killing.
PROTECTING SMALLER PETS
The cat is also a very curious animal, always keen on putting new experiences under its belt. It may want to get closer to one of these animals for no other reason – at first, anyway – than to discover exactly what this strange new creature that it has never seen before is about. Small pet animals should therefore always be segregated in their own cages or runs, and the cat should never be allowed any opportunity to get close to them or attack them.
EXCEPTIONS TO THE RULE?
If a kitten has been raised with the young of one of these species, they may accept one another as equals and co-exist in harmony. In practice, however, this situation is extremely rare, and it is not worth taking any risks. The main thing is to keep pet rodents safe from a curious cat; this means keeping them segregated during exercise sessions. Good rodent pens are available to buy and one could even be constructed at home.
No matter how soft and lovable your cat may seem to you, there is no doubt at all that it has fierce, predatory instincts lurking somewhere only skin deep. In fact, it would not be going too far to say that the lynx and the leopard hide not far from the surface of even the soppiest domestic cat.
To put any potential prey within easy reach of the cat would therefore be a very foolhardy thing to do, and what may be a sweet, little hamster to you, may be potential dinner to your cat. So don’t tempt fate and take every precaution to keep them apart.