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Do Ferrets Get Along with Cats?

Do Ferrets Get Along with Cats?

Ferrets and cats, just like other animals (and people) have different personalities. One cat might be best buddies with one cat and hiss and fight with another.Do Ferrets Get Along with Cats?

A Ferret’s Point of View

Ferrets view people, other ferrets, and other animals in a variety of ways. But primarily as a playmate. As a carefree and fearless pet, ferrets above all love to play. Ferrets can play very hard, and without  meaning to, could harm another pet.

Another way ferrets may see another pet, such as a cat, is as an enemy. A fearful ferret will defend himself if he feels cornered. A jealous ferret might act aggressively toward a cat if you aren’t paying enough attention to him.

A Cat’s Point of View

Cats view people as their servants and other pets as either toys, prey, predators or rivals. Cats may see small ferret kits as a new toy to play with or as a tasty snack! Cats are also territorial and may see a ferret as an intruder to his territory, which he must defend. Some cats will also become jealous if they are not getting the attention they demand. Any one of these characteristics may cause a cat to potentially hurt a ferret.


Do Ferrets Get Along with Cats? Can They?

I have a friend who has two male cats about a year old–Tara and Henry.  They decided to add a ferret to the family. When the cats and the ferret were first introduced, the cats both flattened their ears back and hissed at him. After that friendly welcome they just sat there and observed. When the ferret, Pip, got to close, the cats would again hiss and then back up–away from what they considered an annoyance. The ferret was very inquisitive and interested in interacting with the cats, but they would have nothing to do with him.Do Ferrets Get Along with Cats?

Pip never gave up trying to make friends. After about a week of daily sessions, the cats began to warm up to the the ferret. They began to watch Pip with more curiosity and less annoyance. Then when Pip went up to Tara, instead of backing up, she reached out a paw and tapped at him. Pip saw this as an invitation to play, so he leaped at her paw.

They played this way for several minutes while Henry watched. When Pip bounced into Henry, he jumped up and swatted him back. That was the start of their friendship!

Henry, Tara and Pip continue to play but the cats still want their personal space. If they are not playing, they expect Pip to keep his distance. If Pip bothers them when they are napping, they again flatten down their ears and hiss. If Pip persists, they swat at him. Eventually Pip gets the hint.

I know of another situation where the cat did not like the ferret at all. The cat was the only animal in the house and had been for about 6 years. When a ferret was added to the family, the cat was not happy. Each time they were together, the cat would angrily chase the ferret. Finally the family gave up trying. The cat and the ferret were not allowed in the same room together. The cat had the freedom of the house except for one room–which was the ferret’s room. When the cat was asleep in one of the bedrooms, they would shut the door and give the ferret run of the house.


In general, cats and ferrets seem to get along more often when the cat is still a kitten or when the ferret was in the home first. When a cat is added to a family, the cat is usually more accepting of the ferret because she sees the ferret as part of her new family.

Kittens are very playful, just like ferrets. Adult cats on the other hand can sometimes be finicky and self absorbed. They may not like the curious ferret nosing around in everything that isn’t their business. So its best to introduce them while the cat still has that playful kitten in him.

Introductions

While it is possible to have a house full of different pets that get along, and evDo Ferrets Get Along with Cats?en play and sleep together, it all starts with introductions. First impressions are important.

You will want to introduce your ferret and cat gradually. It is best to have two people–one to hold the cat and one to hold the ferret. Allow your pets to smell each other while providing encouragement and reassurance. Your cat may  be confused and anxious. So be certain to provide her with extra attention.

For first-time introductions, hold the cat and the ferret and let them sniff each other a few times a day for a week or so. If these sessions go well, gradually let your cat and ferret have more freedom to check each other out. When you first let them have complete freedom in the same room, make sure both the ferret and the cat have an easily accessible escape route or a safe place that the other pet can’t get to.

Ferrets like to tease each other and other animals.  They often nip at their feet or tails or run underneath them and grab them by the neck or tummy and hang on. These ferret games often alarm other pets.

With extended  interactions, cats usually get tired of playing first and will jump to where the ferret can’t get them. Others will swat the ferret as a warning (which most ferrets ignore and just want to play even more). An angry or cornered cat may unsheathe his claws for the next swat. If the ferret really annoys the cat, he may bite.

Let the animal’s behavior guide you. It’s important to read and understand the body language of both the ferret and the cat to make sure the interaction is going well. No matter how well your pets seem to get along, be sure to continue to provide supervision when they are together. On more information on understand ferret language, see this article

Personal Space
To help ease the introduction of a new family member to your home, be sure your ferret has his own territory. A good cage with the ferret’s sleep sacks, litter box, toys, food, and water makes a safe haven for a ferret to retreat to. A sturdy cage may also prevent a cat from reaching the ferret inside. Because you want all ferret and cat interactions to be supervised, keeping your ferret safe in his cage when you are not around is the best option.

A Harmonious Home 
Most ferrets find cats quite interesting and want to play with them. It is more likely your ferret will annoy your cat because sometimes ferrets just don’t know when to stop! Cats and ferrets can become great friends– playing and sleeping together, and even may use the same litter box. Some cats even bury the ferret additions to the litter box too! Make sure the litter you use is ferret safe. See this article on choose the best litter.

Ferrets also love to help themselves to the cat’s food. Cat foods do not have proper nutrition for ferrets. Put the cat food where the ferret can’t get to it! Ferrets also like to steal cat toys. However, some cat toys are not safe for ferrets because they have rubber parts or small items that can be ingested by the ferret. Be sure your cat toys are also good ferret toys.

So Do Ferrets Get Along with Cats?Do Ferrets Get Along with Cats?

It definitely depends on the cat. The cat’s personality is the biggest factor. Ferrets generally get along with everyone and everything. With the proper supervised introductions and patience, there is a good probability your cat will at least tolerate your ferret. They may even become best friends!

Your comments are welcome.

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12 thoughts on “Do Ferrets Get Along with Cats?

  1. This is a lovely story about cats and ferrets. I must admit that I know very little about ferrets, they are not pets here in Italy and I have seen only one, for some minutes, sitting in a tree behind my house.

    As to the cats, I have had more than 50 and still have 5, and a dog. And yes, it is all about introduction and slowly getting them used to each other. They have a certain hierarchy order and when a new animal (cat or other) comes into the pet family – or leaves it for whatever reason – the balance is disturbed and has to re-create itself. We can help with that by creating a friendly atmosphere, understanding the problems of both parties and slowly get them to know each other. You described that beautifully!

    1. Thanks for visiting, Heidi! Wow 50 cats! Amazing! I love cats–ferrets are like kittens that never grow up!i wonder what you saw near your house. I don’t think it was a ferret. They cannot survive on their own. Perhaps it was a pine martin or a polecat. I’m not sure what type of animals you have there.You are lucky! I have never seen any animal that looks anything like a ferret in the wild.

  2. Hi, very nice article! The cat is my favorite pet, very cute and playful. But I know it can be very difficult to get along with at the beginning, especially for other animals in the house. I wish I had more experience with ferrets, if any, as they do look just as cute and adorable! Wonder how much one would cost from a nearby animal local store. If I ever consider getting one, I’ll make sure to implement everything you’ve suggested and try to introduce the ferret to the cats of the neighbor (that I feed daily haha), and hope for the best. Thanks for the insight.

    1. Thanks for the comments, Elias! If you do consider adding a ferret to your family, I strongly suggest contacting local animal shelters or a ferret rescue in your area. Just like cats and dogs, many are given up and need a good, loving home. If you are concerned about cost, the initial cost is not the investment. The cage, supplies, and vet care (especially if your ferret develops one of the diseases they are susceptible to) will be more of an investment. Before you decide to add a ferret to your family, be sure you are willing and able to invest in your ferrets continued care and well being. let me know if you have any other questions.

  3. Ferrets appear to be interesting little creatures. I look forward to learning more about them, but first, I need to find out if these animals are legal in New Zealand. Thanks for the information 🙂

    1. Hi Gaylene. Last I checked ferrets are not legal in New Zealand :{ I have mentioned it in “Are Ferrets Good Pets?” If you would like to read that article.

  4. Really great and in depth article! I would tend to agree, it probably depends on the cat. It seems like they have a good memory and do not like change in their house. Do the ferrets care too much or get angry if the cat uses its claws? I would imagine that would have to scare them. I mean it does me! lol Also, how long do ferrets live? I’m wondering if its comparable to cats. Thanks for the read! I enjoyed it a lot!

    1. Thanks for your comments, Sam. If a cat uses his claws with a ferret, the ferret could suffer serious injury to his eyes, nose an face in particular. Ferrets can be very single minded and determined, so if they have it in their mind to play with a cat, they will–until the cat gets away (or the ferret gets hurt). That’s why it is so important to supervise the cat and ferret when they are together.
      For your second question, unfortunately ferrets so not live anywhere near to how long a cat may live. Ferrets typically live 6-8 years. They are so full of life. It is heartbreaking.

  5. Very interesting. Ive never owned a ferret but have had cats. Recently adopted one that was abandoned when a neighbor suddenly moved away. I’d be interested in how much work there is in caring for a ferret. And, can you trust them with an aquarium?

    1. Hi Becka, thanks for visiting. Ferrets are like kittens that never grow up!Ferrets cannot be “trusted” with anything! Ferrets are very curious and always looking for something to explore or play with. You would need to keep your ferret and aquarium separated or at least supervise the ferret if he was in the same room as the aquarium. Ferrets require much more work than cats–and time. Cage cleaning is an ongoing chore. They need hours of cage-free time everyday and lots of interaction–which is the fun part! If you have the time, they are fabulous pets!

  6. As a cat owner (5), who was considering adopting a ferret, this article was very informative. I didn’t realize ferrets are so intensely playful. The advice and steps to integrating the animals and the story of Pip, Tara and Henry were also beneficial to get a view into a proper introduction. The pictures also were so pertinent. I especially love the very last photo!

    1. 5 cats! Love it! If you do decide to add a ferret to your furry family, you may want to look into adopting one from a nearby animal shelter or ferret rescue. There are so many delightful ferrets that need a loving home.

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