Cats are hardwired to hunt small rodents, while hamsters are prey animals that fear larger, faster predatory animals. Unfortunately, cats and hamsters will never get along or be friends.
Under strict supervision, cats and hamsters can live in the same house. However, this combination of animals must never be left in the same room or allowed to play together.
Having a cat that’s obsessed with a hamster can be stressful. Cats and hamsters can coexist by cat-proofing the cage and keeping them in separate rooms when you’re not around.
Can Hamsters and Cats Be Friends?
According to Ecology and Evolution, cats hunt rodents, including hamsters.
Even the most well-behaved cats find it hard to resist the temptation of a captive hamster, especially when they become active between dusk and dawn.
Not all cats will attack immediately, but they’ll attempt to stalk their prey at some point.
The reality is that cats can’t comprehend that hamsters are pets. As far as the cat’s concerned, the hamster’s there for it to hunt and eat.
Even if your cat only sits and watches the hamster, you can’t trust that it won’t attack if it gets the opportunity. Cats bide their time and will await the right time to make a move.
Can Hamsters Live With Cats?
Hamsters and cats can live together, but it’s up to owners to take precautions. There are also several things to consider beforehand, such as:
- The cat’s personality and hunting instincts
- How nervous the hamster appears
- Where the hamster’s cage is located
- The animals’ ages
Older cats tend to lose their hunting instincts as they age. Others will become obsessed with the hamster and won’t think of anything other than catching it.
Some cats are scared of large hamsters and will avoid them altogether. Cats with this personality trait are most likely to live alongside hamsters in peace, although it’s not guaranteed.
Hamsters are hardwired to be wary of cats to protect themselves. As a result, they’ll become stressed and anxious when they see that a cat is nearby.
That said, hamsters and cats should never be left in the same room together without supervision. Even then, owners must direct their full attention toward the animals to ensure they behave around each other.
The moment your hamster seems stressed or your cat starts acting like a predator, separate them.
Also, remember that cats and hamsters will never be able to play together because hamsters are a food source for cats. There are other risks, including:
So, while cats and hamsters can live in the same home, they should be as far away from each other as possible, especially when you’re not around to step in should your cat get hold of your hamster.
Are Hamsters Good With Cats?
Hamsters won’t attack a cat or begin a confrontation.
Prey animals keep themselves hidden when a predator’s in their vicinity. If you allow your cat into your hamster’s room, you may never see your hamster.
Captive hamsters differ slightly from wild ones because they don’t always recognize cats as predators. Some pet hamsters don’t see the dangers cats pose and won’t display their usual prey instincts.
This puts them in more danger, as they’re more likely to get too close to the cage bars when the cat’s in the room, giving the cat a chance to attack.
Supervise cats and hamsters at all times and keep sufficient distance between them.
Can Hamsters Smell Cats?
It’s estimated that hamsters can detect smells up to 30 meters away.
According to the Journal of Mammalogy, rodents rely on their sense of smell to find information about their environment and understand it. So, hamsters can detect when a cat’s in the same room.
During a study by Naturwissenschaften, researchers investigated the influence of cat urine odor on the development and fertility suppression in Campbell’s hamsters.
They found that exposure to the odor caused a significant decrease in the weights of their sex organs and reduced testosterone levels, resulting in smaller litter sizes.
While hamsters don’t always show their fear, cats terrify them enough to affect their reproductive abilities.
Do Cats Eat Hamsters?
Cats are obligate carnivores, so they rely on a diet of animal proteins to stay healthy. Many cats eat their prey as a reward and enjoy consuming the food they’ve caught.
However, not all cats eat hamsters. Many cats enjoy the thrill of the hunt and discard their prey as soon as they kill it, which seems senseless to those who don’t understand feline hunting instincts.
Hunting is just as much for mental enrichment and stimulation as it is vital for nutrition. Cats have scheduled meals containing all the vitamins and minerals they need, so they don’t need to eat hamsters.
Are Hamsters Scared of Cats?
Hamsters instinctively fear cats. When afraid, hamsters stop moving. Hamsters are so low down the food chain that all larger animals pose a threat. Cats are unique because they:
- Move fast
- Stalk their prey by positioning themselves low to the ground
- Stare down their prey before pouncing
Because hamsters have such tiny hearts, fear can induce a heart attack and kill them. Long-term exposure to stress can also have fatal consequences.
Many hamsters squeak or scream when a cat walks into the room, which is a clear sign of terror, so listen out for these noises and intervene if you hear them.
Can a Hamster Survive a Cat Attack?
Cats are expert hunters, so few hamsters walk away from an attack unscathed.
Cats paralyze their prey by biting the neck to sever the spinal cord, which ensures the animal can’t escape. However, in most cases, doing so kills the animal.
Also, as VCA Hospitals describes, cats have sharp teeth that can easily puncture the skin, and their nails are just as potent, penetrating the skin with ease.
A cat’s mouth harbors harmful bacteria, so bites and scratches spread bacteria, causing tissue infections that are like to be fatal in hamsters. Infected cat bite wounds appear:
If you take your hamster to the vet soon enough, antibiotics may be enough to save your hamster’s life. However, more often than not, the trauma from the attack is too much, and hamsters soon succumb.
However, if the hamster manages to escape and hide or you intervene quickly, it could survive. It may need antibiotics to treat bites and be monitored for shock, but many hamsters fully recover.
How To Introduce Cats to Hamsters
Ideally, you’ll keep your hamster in its cage and your cat well away. However, this isn’t always possible, particularly if you only have a small home.
Hamsters are small escape artists. Given a chance, they’ll leave their cage to explore their wider surroundings. Because of this risk, you’ll need to lay down ground rules first.
When introducing the two animals, you’ll need to:
- Teach the cat that the hamster’s off-limits
- Reprimand your cat whenever it exhibits poor behavior
- Protect your hamster from harm
Training can be successful, but it depends on a cat’s temperament and demeanor. Regardless of training, some cats will always attempt to attack, while others won’t bother. Follow these steps:
Acclimatize The Hamster
Hamsters don’t like moving to a new home as it’s stressful. They don’t need to be scared of cats to react fearfully when they see one for the first time.
Allowing your cat to see the hamster while it settles in isn’t a good idea, as it may never feel comfortable in its new home. It’ll need 3 to 4 weeks to acclimate to its new surroundings.
Monitor and Observe Your Cat
Once a hamster’s safely in its cage or enclosure, observe how your cat reacts and behaves around it. Doing so will enable you to decide when to introduce them.
Relaxed, mellow cats are less likely to be bothered by the hamster’s presence. However, if your cat appears anxious and aggressive, you’ll need to wait until it gets tired or winds down.
Hold The Hamster In Sight Of The Cat
The next step is to teach your cat to respect the hamster as a pet. By showing your cat that the hamster’s under your protection, it’s more likely to leave it alone. To do this, follow these steps:
- Hold your hamster and place it in your cat’s line of sight.
- Find another person to hold your cat in place.
- Hold it steady, but get ready to pull it away if necessary.
- Gently stroke the hamster and speak softly to both animals, showing them affection and kindness.
- Your cat may attempt to pounce or swipe at the hamster. If it does, reprimand it by saying “no.”
- If the cat becomes too predatory or watches too intently, it’s time to put it back in its cage.
- Praise passive, disinterested cats with their favorite treats.
As mentioned, your cat and hamster will never be best friends. However, you can teach a cat to recognize the hamster’s smell, which may help it resist the urge to attack and kill it.
Repeat The Steps
The introduction won’t happen overnight, so you’ll need to repeat the steps several times for them to feel somewhat comfortable around each other. When holding your hamster in front of your cat, pet it gently.
You can also move closer to the cat (within reason) while remaining on guard with the hamster in your hands. By getting your cat used to the hamster’s presence, it’ll start to ignore it.
Remain In The Room
You’ll never be able to leave your cat and hamster in the same room unsupervised. Cats can attack without warning, so it’s too much of a risk.
Before they begin, you can stop any issues by remaining in the room, keeping your hamster safe from harm. If your cat respects you, it won’t move while you’re in the room.
Cats and hamsters can live together as long as there are boundaries. It’s not always feasible to separate them at all times, but cats mustn’t be allowed to get too close.