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 home. Unfortunately, this combination of animals must never be left in the same room or permitted to play together.
Having a cat that’s obsessed with a hamster is stress-inducing. Cats and hamsters can coexist by cat-proofing the cage and keeping them in separate living spaces when you’re not around.
Can Hamsters and Cats Be Friends?
According to Ecology and Evolution, cats hunt small rodents like hamsters in the wild.
Even the most well-behaved cats will find it near-impossible to resist the temptation of a diminutive hamster. Not all cats will attack, but they’ll inevitably stalk the hamster at some point.
Even if a cat only sits and watches a hamster, you can’t be sure it won’t attack if the opportunity arises. Cats will bide their time and await the right time to strike.
Hamsters won’t confront or attack mesopredators like cats, which are much larger animals.
Prey animals keep themselves hidden whenever a threat or predator is nearby. If you allow a cat into a hamster’s room, you’ll seldom see the hamster. It may even become a ghost hamster.
Can Hamsters Live with Cats?
Hamsters and cats can live together in the same house, but owners must take safety precautions.
This pairing should never be left in the same room without adult supervision. Even if you’re in the same room watching intently, never allow a hamster to free-roam in the presence of a feline.
Cats and hamsters can’t play together because playfulness and hunting are linked. Also, if a hamster grows stressed or a cat shows an unhealthy interest in the hamster, move them to separate rooms.
Older cats may lose their hunting instincts as they age. However, many senior cats grow obsessed with hamsters and won’t think of anything other than hunting and capturing their prey.
Some cats are weary of large hamster species and will avoid them entirely. Cats who feel this way are likelier to coexist with hamsters, but nothing is guaranteed with this pairing.
Some naive captive hamsters won’t immediately appreciate the risks posed by cats. This puts them in harm’s way because they’re likelier to get too close to the cage bars when a cat’s in the room.
Can Hamsters Smell Cats?
Hamsters can detect odors up to 30 meters away.
According to the Journal of Mammalogy, rodents rely on their sense of smell to gather information about their environment. This means hamsters can detect when a cat is in the vicinity.
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 cat urine odor caused a significant decrease in the weight of their sex organs and reduced testosterone levels, resulting in smaller litter sizes.
Cats scare hamsters so significantly that it adversely affects their reproductive capabilities.
Do Cats Eat Hamsters?
Cats are obligate carnivores, so they need a diet of animal protein to stay strong and 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 about mental enrichment and stimulation as survival.
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. In most cases, this action kills the prey animal near-instantly.
Cats have sharp teeth and claws that can penetrate a hamster’s skin. A cat’s mouth harbors harmful bacteria, so bites and scratches cause bacterial infections in hamsters.
An infected bite wound will have the following characteristics:
- Hot to the touch.
- Oozes pus.
Antibiotics may save a hamster’s life if you take a hamster to the vet soon enough. More often than not, the trauma from the attack is overwhelming, ending the hamster’s life.
How To Introduce Cats To Hamsters
Ideally, you’ll keep a hamster in its cage and a cat well away. However, this isn’t always possible, particularly if you only have a small home.
Hamsters are escape artists. Given a chance, they’ll leave their cage to explore their wider surroundings. Due to this risk, you must lay down ground rules:
- Teach the cat that the hamster’s off-limits.
- Reprimand the cat when it displays unwanted behavior.
- Protect the hamster from harm.
Training can be successful, depending on the cat’s personality and temperament.
Follow these important steps:
Hamsters dislike moving to a new home because it’s stressful. Allowing a cat to see a hamster while settling in is ill-advised because it’ll need 3 to 4 weeks to acclimate to its new surroundings.
Monitor and Observe The Cat
Once a hamster is safely in its cage, observe how the cat reacts and behaves around it. Doing so will enable you to decide if and when to introduce them.
Relaxed, mellow cats are less likely to be bothered by a hamster’s presence. If a cat appears unsettled or overly energetic, wait until it grows tired or settles down.
Hold The Hamster In Sight of The Cat
The next step is to teach the cat to respect the hamster as a pet. Showing the cat that the hamster’s under your protection means it’s more likely to leave it alone. To achieve this, follow these steps:
- Hold the hamster in the cat’s line of sight.
- Find another person to hold the cat securely in place.
- Stroke the hamster and speak softly to both animals.
- A cat may attempt to pounce or swipe at the hamster. If it does, reprimand it by saying “no.”
- Return the hamster to its cage if the cat is overly predatory or watches too intently.
- Praise passive, disinterested cats with petting and their favorite treats.
A cat and a hamster will never be best friends.
Repeat The Steps
The introduction won’t happen overnight, so repeat the steps several times for them to feel more comfortable around each other.
Move closer to the cat (within reason) while remaining on guard with the hamster in your hands. By getting the cat used to the hamster’s presence, it’ll ignore it.
Remain In The Room
You won’t be able to leave a cat and hamster in the same room unsupervised. Cats will eventually attack without warning, even if everything seems okay.
By remaining in the room, you can intervene. Cats and hamsters can live together in the same house as long as there are defined boundaries.