Are you thinking about getting a pet chinchilla as a companion for your cat? If so, you must have been warned about the incompatibility between these house pets.
Cats are pretty good hunters, and they will hunt almost anything. A chinchilla being prey, there is the danger of it being attacked by the cat. Is this always true though? Well, that’s what we are here to find out. Will cats eat chinchillas?
Cats and chinchillas don’t get along. Cats are feline predators that are known for hunting rodent prey like chinchillas. An aggressive cat will attack the chinchilla but with patience, you can train the pets to coexist. The chinchilla will be stressed out by calm cats too.
This is all too situational and it depends on the character of the pet. Read this thoroughly to find out how cats and chinchillas can coexist as house pets and how to achieve that.
Can Cats And Chinchillas Get Along
Despite the incompatibility of cats and chinchillas, they can live in the same household. To explain this clearly, we need to understand something about cats and chinchillas as animals.
Cats are social creatures, we domesticated them a long time ago, that’s why they have such a good relationship with humans. However, they still have their natural instinct. What does that mean?
Well, even if a cat is fed, it would still attack something that it sees as prey. Its instinct tells it to hunt. Take this with a grain of salt though, we can’t know how cats actually think. [Source]
The thing is, all house cats are different. We have the cuddly cute one that won’t let go of the owner. The lazy cat that can’t be bothered with anything. And, the anti-social cat that lords over the owners. So, some cats see most animals as friends, some ignore most animals.
Still, most cats that have never been outside the house will get riled up when they see a rat or a bird. You may think your cat is friendly and all but that may be just because it has never seen prey.
Chinchillas, on the other hand, are not really aggressive. As a prey animal, it has something called prey instinct. That means it develops defensive tactics to stay alive. [Source]
You may think that you will be okay if you get the cat to back off from the chinchilla. That’s not true though. Even if the cat does not attack it, the chinchilla may get stressed out.
Because it sees the cat as a predator, it will be in an anxiety state. And that’s not a healthy chinchilla. It has quite a sensitive digestive system. If it’s stressed out, it may stop eating. This leads to some serious issues.
Think about it, if an animal is in a constant state of fear, that must not be good for its physical and emotional health. Another thing, let’s say you have a calm cat. Chinchillas have pretty sharp teeth. Even if the cat is calm, the chinchilla may bite it if gets too near. And that’s how fights start.
So, living together does not mean coexisting.
[Related Article: Do Chinchilla And Ferrets Get Along Or Will They Fight]
All of this should give you an idea of how cats and chinchillas get along. But something I always stand by when it comes to pets, you can’t be sure. I know of pet owners that have a chinchilla and cats that get along.
As I said, it depends on your situation. If you are lucky enough, the pets will get along right from the start. But you can also train them to coexist, that takes a great amount of patience though.
With the cat, you have to pay attention to it at all times. The main thing is to stop it from threatening the chinchilla. But also train it to be friendly with it. Word of caution though, it may attack the chinchilla out of nowhere. That’s why you have to supervise at all times.
The chinchilla takes more patience. Even without the cat, the chinchilla is a pet that accommodates quite hard. It doesn’t really have a domestication history. So, it gets stressed in household surroundings even without there being a cat.
To relax the pet chinchilla and make it understand that everything is okay takes a lot of training. It’s the same with the cat. You need to make it stop seeing the cat as a threat.
How To Make Cat And Chinchilla Get Along
So, chinchillas and cats are not compatible by nature but you can try to train them to coexist. Whether this will work depends on the character of the pets and your training.
- Welcome the chinchilla into a safe environment.
The first time you will be bringing the chinchilla home, make sure the cat is far away. The chinchilla will be able to smell all that cat scent but it’s better if it can’t see it. You want to start with a safe chinchilla space. Let it get comfortable and get used to the environment. Place the chinchilla cage where you planned. It’s best if the chinchilla does not meet the cat from the first day.
- Let the pets meet for first impressions.
Just a quick meet to see how both the cat and the chinchilla will react. You will notice if the chinchilla gets defensive by its chinchilla bark. Don’t let it get too aroused. See how the cat reacts too. Is it friendly? Is it curious? If so, is it in a bad way? Make the first meet short even if they get along. Make sure the chinchilla is in those dedicated chinchilla cages for this first meeting. Don’t let the cat get too close to the cage bars immediately.
- Observe your cat’s behavior.
Chances are, the cat will be interested in the chinchilla after the first meeting. Whether that’s in a good or in a bad way, you will find out. Check if the cat hangs around in the room where the chinchilla is. If it’s not really interested in the other companion, you shouldn’t be too worried.
- Keep the pets separated.
The best thing to do is keep the pets separated. Do not give the cat constant access in the room with the other pet. This is the best way to not stress out the chinchilla. Also, you don’t have to keep watch on the cat at all times. This is especially true at night. Cats are nocturnal creatures, at night they are the most active.
- Organize a play date.
From time to time, you need to organize a play date with the pets. This is where you train them to get along. Start small and slow. Keep it short in the beginning. Depending on how they get along, you can e=increase the playtime. Keep it in a safe environment. Keep watch on your cat. If a fight starts, take the cat to the other room. Keep watch on any squeaks and barks from the chinchilla. Also, watch for any fur chewing. That is a sign of stress.
- Do not leave the cat and the chinchilla alone.
If you manage to keep the chinchilla relaxed, all that you will be doing is keeping watch on the cat. From that point, only the cat is a liability. Again, you can’t know how the cat will react at any given point. So, you should keep watch on the cat at all times when it has access to the chinchilla. This is crucial, if you are not willing to do this, don’t get a chinchilla.
Is This A Good Idea
Now that you know everything about owning cats and chinchillas together, it’s time to get real. Chinchillas and cats are not pets that can coexist by nature. The chinchilla is an exotic animal while the cat is domesticated but has natural hunting instinct. [Source]
In my opinion, owning a chinchilla and a cat at the same time is a bad idea. Personally, I wouldn’t do it because it just takes too much effort and time. But to each its own. I’m not saying it’s not going to work. However, the pets will never be friendly as a dog and cat can be, mostly, they will just ignore each other.
Related Questions And Other FAQs
What Pets Do Chinchillas Get Along With
Chinchillas aren’t exactly friendly so they won’t get along with most creatures. They can coexist with similar rodents like guinea pigs. But chinchillas and guinea pigs can’t have the same cage because they will get competitive for food. Chinchillas won’t be bothered by pet birds too.
What Animals Do Cats Get Along With
Cats can get along with rabbits but it takes some training. Guinea pigs can also be a good companion as long as the guinea pig doesn’t get scared and the cat can’t reach it. Birds are bad companions for cats.