Ferrets are playful, social pets with a curious and active temperament. They are known for intelligence and ability to learn. But how do ferrets get along with cats? Is it possible to keep them together or to introduce them to one another? I was intrigued by this question myself, so have decided to conduct some extensive research into the topic. I would like to share that information with you here today.
So, do ferrets get along with cats? Ferrets generally get along very well with cats. They are known to play with one another and enjoy each other’s company. However, it is important to remember that cats are predators and ferrets are prey animals. Ferrets and cats should be slowly introduced to one another, carefully monitored with each other and you should never leave them together alone.
Unfortunately, due to certain temperaments and personalities, some ferrets and cats will never get on.
I know that this is probably a little bit more complex than what you were hoping to discover.
The truth of the matter is that there a lot of factors involved as to whether your ferret or cat will get along with one another and other animals in general.
Fortunately, for the most part ferrets are one of the easiest of pets to introduce to a cat. Let us now look at why this is the case, before looking at some techniques and considerations.
Relationships between Ferrets and Cats
While it may come as a surprise, ferrets do naturally do very well with cats. This is all down to their unique temperaments as animals which they usually exercise with one another.
Ferrets are generally well-natured and often are associated with cats/kittens for how they behave and act. They are playful, curious, active, and sociable, even as they get older. These tendencies bode well for a positive relationship with a cat who share similar traits.
Of course, this all depends on the individuals and their own unique personalities and characteristics. There are always outliers and there is always the chance that your ferret or your cat behaves differently to the norm.
So first and foremost, in order to keep both your ferret and cat safe, you need to be aware of some strategies and tips on how to introduce them and let them be in each others company.
Firstly, it is important to never forget that biologically speaking, and how they live in the wild, cats are predators and ferrets are prey animals. These are natural instincts formed over hundreds of years that domestication will never be able to completely eradicate. Therefore you always need to have this in the back of your mind.
In the beginning, it is strongly recommended that you supervise the introduction closely. If you can introduce them slowly and be able to separate them promptly if and when required.
The best time to introduce a ferret to a cat is when they are both young, but this does not mean you cannot nor should not do this as they get older. The younger the age of the animals when they meet, the greater the chance that they immediately form a closer bond and the easier it will be for you to form their relationship.
Should You Let your Ferret and Cat Play Together?
First and foremost, you should only let your ferret and cat begin to play with one another once they have had numerous introductions. Even if it is briefly. They need to be able to trust and be calm in each other presence.
You’ll be able to observe the behavior and temperaments of the animals. They may start out by being quite intimidated, quiet or stressed. If this is the case, playing is generally not advised.
With slow and calm introductions, over time you will be in a much better position to allow them in close proximity with one another.
As your ferret and cat start to become familiar and trust one another, you should soon find that they like to and start playing with one another. It is not uncommon to see them cuddling one another. Interestingly, you need to be observant with how you ferret is behaving. They can actually be quite ‘rough’ when it comes to playing with a cat – especially a kitten.
When it comes to playtime, you are going to want to supervise these very closely and be sure to not leave them together for extended periods of time.
That being said, this is something that you will need to do with your ferret at all times anyway. They should always be supervised and never left to their own devices (unconfined). This is because they are very curious animals, looking to explore and run off to learn about the environment around them.
When introducing your ferret to your cat or the other way around, there are some techniques that you can apply.
If the ferret is the new pet, make sure the cat, who has been around for a while, has places where it can escape. Ferrets will be very playful from the outset and this can cause alarm in some cats.
Ideally, when you introduce your ferret to your cat, you want it to take place in an open room where the cat can easily flee from the ferret. This will calm the cat by ensuring that it does not feel closed off or contained. Most of the time, the ferret will just want to gently play, but if it is overly aggressive or rough, the cat will not want to hang around.
Make sure that you can easily separate your ferret from your cat, and vice versa, if the meeting appears to take a turn for the worst. Be quick to respond and act sooner rather than later.
If the ferret is the first pet and you’re bringing home a young kitten, it will be a little more difficult. Kittens are typically more excited than an older cat, so the ferret will have to not become overly excited. Kittens can become frightened and can even lash out.
Tire out your Ferret
Ferrets naturally have a lot of energy and like to play. By playing with them ahead of time and before any introduction can make the meeting more calm.
Letting your ferret out of the cage regularly and letting them play with toys is an excellent approach here. It will ensure the ferret uses up a lot of excess energy that will not be used on the cat!
How To Keep Your Ferret Safe With a Cat In The House
#1. Never Leave Them Together Alone
This is paramount and you should be vigilant never to leave your ferret and cat alone together. You need to monitor and closely watch over each interaction; which you can never be certain of how it will unfold.
If either becomes agitated and violent it can result in injury and long-term physical and mental damage.
#2. Keep Them in Separate Rooms
Keep your ferret and cat in separate rooms the majority of the time. A good way to do this is to put your Ferrets cage in a room that your cat is not allowed to go in or cannot access.
When your ferret is let out of its cage, it needs to feel secure and safe. Ferrets are very inquisitive animals and they love to explore. So you must do all you can to ensure they do not wander off to areas of the house where you cat may like to reside. Similarly, have certain areas for your cat where you ferret is not allowed to go.
Natural animal instincts are always there so it is not a good idea to have a predator and a prey animal in the same room. Keeping them as far as possible from each other is a safety measure to prevent any type of incident between your pets. Closing doors, locking windows is always a good idea.
It must be said that sometimes it is unavoidable and there will be times that your cat enters the same room of your ferrets cage. This should be fine and safe, so long as they have a good relationship built already.
A good solid, multi story cage like the Midwest Deluxe on Amazon is an excellent way to ensure that your cat cannot endanger your ferret without you knowing . It has bars that are close together, too close for your cat to sneak a paw and claw through to harm your ferret.
#3. Keep Toys Apart and Exclusive To Each Pet
Never give a ferrets toy to a cat and vice versa. To ensure this does not happen it is a good idea to keep their toys in their own rooms and areas. Ferrets/cats can become possessive of their items so you do not want to give either pet a reason to think down on the other.
Plus, ferret and cats have good sense of smells. If either of the toys gets mixed up it can cause toys to change scent which is not preferable.
So, the good news and the short answer is that ferrets do generally get on well with cats. They should be able to spend time within each others company and play with each other as time goes on and trust builds.
The more complex answer is that this relationship takes time to form. You are going to need to monitor each and every interaction, and introduce them to each other slowly and over a period of time. If you find that your ferret and cat do not get on, even after following the techniques mentioned above, do not force it. You may need to accept the fact that they need to be separated and that they will never be able to be in close proximity with one another.
Your pets safety comes first, it is the most important thing.
However you should find, with a little bit of time, patience and care, your ferret and cat begin to form a close bond. Sometimes, it becomes strangely close.
Best of luck!
Want to learn more about ferrets and their interesting traits and behaviors? Then be sure to read my guides below:
- Can Ferrets See In The Dark? [Considerations For Owners]
- How Big Do Ferrets Get? [Average Growth Rate & Expectations]
- How Often Do Ferrets Poop? [& 5 Best Toilet Training Tips]
- Do Ferrets Play Dead? [The Answer Will Surprise You]
- Are Ferrets Noisy At Night? [They Can Be & How To Prepare]
I am an experienced pet owner with decades of experience owning a number of different pets, from traditional pets like dogs and cats, to the more exotic like reptiles and rodents. I currently own a Cockapoo (pictured) called Bailey. I am also the main writer and chief editor here at Pet Educate; a site dedicated to sharing evidence-based insights and guidance, based on my vast pet ownership knowledge, experience, and extensive research.