Cats & Small Pets Coexisting

Last Updated on April 4, 2020

When it comes to cats and other small pets, it is usually a coin flip to know what is okay and what is not. Some cats will do quite well with birds, rabbits, and other small creatures, while other cats will be more aggressive. There are a few factors in which to consider before introducing a small animal into a home with a cat, or vice versa.


When introducing a small animal into a house with a cat you will want to be fully aware of your cat’s personality. The more cats you own, the harder it may be to determine which animal is okay, and which is not. Most fully caged animals will do fine with a cat once you get past the curiosity factor. Cats, by nature, love to watch moving objects and creatures. They enjoy hunting and playing and with domestic cats, it is almost always one and the same.

As for small animals that will need out-the-cage exercise or interaction, this is where you need to be cautious. With animals such as medium-sized hookbills, rabbits, tortoises, ferrets, skunks, miniature dog breeds, and the like, you will need to observe your cat’s reactions. Supervision is always necessary when the animal is outside its cage.

Not All Cats Are The Same

Many people believe cats will be fine with other small pets so long as they are raised together. This simply is not true. For example, I took in 3 kitten siblings at 3 weeks old when their mother died. I currently have 3 leopard geckos, 5 tree frogs, and a quaker parrot. They were here the entire time the kittens were growing (aside from 4 of the 5 frogs). They are now 7 months old and still watch both cages aggressively and even go after the parrot when he is reachable. On the other hand, I took in a stray cat that was 2 years old, prior to having the parrot, and he gets along well with the bird. He never hunts him or attacks him, in fact, he will sit with him and the parrot is quite fond of him as well. The oldest cat I own wants nothing to do with the parrot and avoids him.

Which Small Pet Is Best?

When choosing an animal to place inside a home with cats, it is also important to determine the other animal’s behavior. Ferrets and skunks, for example, tend to be more aggressive towards cats than rabbits and tortoises. When it comes to birds, all hookbills need human interaction and out-the-cage exercise to be happy. If you have an aggressive playing cat but want a bird, a small songbird is likely the better option. If you do decide to adopt a hookbill bird, you will want to stick with the medium-sized ones such as quakers, cockatiels, rainbow lorikeets, or sun conures. I chose to adopt a quaker parrot on the sole purpose that they are tough, fearless birds for their size. I didn’t want a bird that would be terrified of my cats. He actually scares them off more than they scare him away, which is quite entertaining.

Three factors that you should consider with your cat are personality, style of play, and activity level.


You will not want small animals around a full-blooded hunter. If your cat ventures outside on a weekly basis and is known to bring you back gifts, it is probably not a good idea. Even caged animals can be in danger. Cats are strong for their size and most are very intelligent. They can easily learn how to open cages or land them on the floor from frustration.

Style of play

Watch your cat’s behavior with toys. Some cats are less aggressive players than others. If they use their claws at all times while playing, you will have to consider the amount of damage they can do to an animal half their size (or smaller).

Activity level

This plays a larger role in determining how a cat may react to a new animal than you may consider. Lazy to moderate activity in cats is typically accompanied by a more passive nature. On the other hand, spontaneous to hyperactive cats are typically accompanied by a more aggressive nature.

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