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Do Cats Eat Ferrets – What You Should Know!

You may have also thought about introducing a ferret to your home. Ferrets do have similar traits to cats, are very affectionate, and are adorable pets. If you are serious about getting a ferret companion for your cat, then one of the first questions you will have asked yourself is ‘do cats eat ferrets?

Generally, cats do not eat ferrets. Cats will only attack ferrets if they are antagonized by or do not know the ferret intruder in their territory.

In this article, we will be answering if cats can kill ferrets, which would be the likely successor in a fight between a cat and a ferret, and whether ferrets can hurt cats and kittens. We will describe the best ways to introduce cats and ferrets to one another and whether they can cohabit well. We will also provide various tips that you can use to protect cats and ferrets from one another.  

Would A Cat Kill A Ferret

If it is a serious fight, a cat has the ability to kill a ferret. Cats are bigger and heavier than ferrets with longer teeth and claws. Cats also have better vision than ferrets. Both are carnivores with excellent hearing and sensitive paws.

Ferrets are not seen as prey by cats, so a cat would not attack a ferret as part of a serious hunt. Ferrets move, smell, and look different to birds, lizards, or rodents; the normal prey for cats. For that reason, your cat is not likely to eat the ferret even if it does kill it.

Even if a cat was in a fight with a ferret and managed to kill it, the cat would be very unlikely to eat the ferret; ferrets are just not prey for cats. 

A cat would kill a ferret if the ferret has antagonized them; ferrets can become aggressive when play fighting and can push a cat too hard. Ferrets like to play by nipping at a cat’s ankles or tail.

They have also been observed jumping on a cat’s back or clinging to a cat’s underbelly. In these instances, the cat becomes irritated and angry with the ferret and will lash out. 

If you have a kit (a baby ferret), a cat may kill it, either through rough play or because the cat sees it as vermin. Kits are notoriously naïve, so they will not read a potentially dangerous situation. Constantly monitor your kit if you take them from their enclosure.

Also, a playful fight can turn into a nasty, serious situation, and care should be taken that the bigger, heavier cat does not kill the ferret.

Who Would Win Between A Cat And A Ferret

It is a pretty fair match if cats and ferrets fight, so there is no obvious successor. Despite a cat being the larger and heavier of the two, the carnivores are well-matched when it comes to a proper fight, and both can inflict serious injuries or death to the other. 

Both cats and ferrets are obligate carnivores and predators with their advantages when it comes to catching prey or fighting. The short-legged ferrets are quick to move with a slinky pace that can outwit a cat. They are nimble and agile and can swiftly duck in and out of a fight.

Cats have longer claws and teeth with which to inflict damage. However, there is more force in the bite of a ferret than there is in a cat. The bite force of a ferret can be equal to that of a dog.

Ferrets and cats are capable of their own gymnastics when it comes to fighting, with cats gaining the upper hand by their ability to leap about six times their length. On the other hand, Ferrets can crawl into tiny spaces and are quick to dart out and dart back into the crawl space. 

Can Ferrets Hurt Cats

Ferrets can hurt cats and have the capability to cause death in a ferocious fight.

Ferrets have 34 very sharp pointed teeth, compared to a cat’s mouthful of 30 long teeth. Although smaller, the force of a ferret’s bite and the shorter teeth can cause severe damage to a cat and have the capacity to pierce and seriously wound. 

When ferrets hunt, they attack vulnerable points of their prey; the jugular or the soft underbelly. This practice is not confined to hunting but is used when fighting too. Whether ferrets are fighting each other or a cat, they will use the vulnerable spot technique to best their opponent.

Although cats and ferrets can play well together, a ferret’s high energy and tenacity can be a little too much for a cat. Ferrets have been described as being tough on cats at times. 

Do Ferrets Eat Kittens

Ferrets will eat newborn or very young kittens as they appear to be prey to ferrets. It is not a given that this will occur on every occasion, but caution should always be observed if introducing kittens to adult ferrets.

Ferrets are obligate carnivores. If ferrets were in the wild, their diet would consist of rodents, small reptiles, insects, and birds, which is nearly identical to that of feral cats. 

A young kitten resembles a small rodent and is likely to be attacked and eaten if the ferret is hungry. Even if the ferret is not hungry, the instinct to hunt and kill is strong in some ferrets, so it is likely the kitten would still be killed or seriously maimed. 

Do not leave adult ferrets and very young kittens alone or unsupervised.

Are Ferrets Good With Cats

Ferrets can be good with cats and vice versa. However, this is not guaranteed, and first introductions should be closely monitored and supervised as with any other animal.

Both cats and ferrets are of the Carnivora order in the animal kingdom. Although the species are from different families and genus (Felidae and Felis; Mustelidae and Mustela, respectively), they have very similar traits and characteristics. A colloquial name occasionally used for some Mustela is ‘polecat.’

If adult cats and ferrets are introduced, they may ignore one another, tolerate each other, or fight. This can be attributed to the fact that adult cats and ferrets cannot read one another’s body language. It can also be a territorial thing. 

Can You Keep Ferrets With Cats

Overall, you can keep ferrets with cats but need to be aware that there are some occasions where this pairing will not match. Much of that can be down to the temperament or personality of the cat and ferret.

Ferrets are affectionate, curious, and playful animals. They are also very social creatures and adore company, often curling up to sleep with one another as cats do. 

If you introduce kittens and kits so that the two species grow up together, you will have happy, loving siblings who get on well. They will eat together (not the same food, though), play together, and sleep together. They can even use the same litter box, and both get the zoomies!

Both species are crepuscular (which means they become more active during twilight hours) and have the same prey. So it makes sense that cats and ferrets will get along if they have been brought up together. 

But, as in every walk of life, even siblings will fall out or disagree. 

Ferrets are generally more affectionate than cats. If your cat does not have an overly affectionate nature, there is a good chance they will become irritated by your ferret if they keep pestering for love, especially if you are not there. 

Equally, while both animals require a lot of sleep during the day – adult cats require between 15 and 20 hours; adult ferrets between 16-18 hours – ferrets are naturally more exuberant and energetic when they are awake.

If your kitty wants some quiet time, and your ferret is chasing an increasingly swishing tail, you can expect there to be an altercation. 

One thing that ferrets LOVE to do is to bury themselves into a cat’s fur. Ferrets revel in the comfort and scent. If your cat is of a long-haired variety, you can expect to find your ferret getting cozy and snuggling in, even on warm days. Kitty may not always enjoy being used as a blanket and will try to escape or put their companion in their place. 

How To Introduce Ferrets To Cats

Cats and ferrets need to be introduced in a controlled, supervised manner. It needs to be done slowly so both can assimilate to one another. 

For the very first introduction, let the ferret and cat sniff each other through a cage. Domestic ferrets should have a cage anyway as they can be very destructive if left to roam freely. A cage will also provide a safe space for them to retreat. Remember to ensure a ferret’s cage has a dark area for them to sleep in; ferrets need to sleep and, consequently, behave better in a darkened space.

When you allow the cat and ferret to investigate each other, hover near enough to intervene if needed but do not come between them or be too close. Both animals need to check each other out in their own time, and your close presence could impede that.

Please note that this is not a five-minute operation and may take a few days over several short sessions, but persevere.

Once both pets seem comfortable, you can remove your ferret from their cage and allow the two to become close while holding your ferret. It is advised to have someone else on hand to hold your cat.

If no one else is available, be sure to hold your ferret securely and allow your cat to approach and sniff your ferret. The ferret will also want to sniff out your cat.

If either shows aggression at any time during the introduction and familiarization process, sternly tell them ‘No!’ and repeat each stage until both seem comfortable. 

Again, this is not a five-minute operation but a rewarding exercise in patience for you all. 

Once both seem comfortable in the second stage of holding your ferret, you can proceed to the third stage. 

In this instance, put your ferret on a leash or in a harness so that they can roam a little in the presence of your cat. As this is a more natural circumstance, both pets will hopefully relax more. 

But in the case of a fight, you can pull your ferret back using the leash without putting your hands between those sharp teeth and claws. 

You have to repeat these steps any number of times until both animals are relaxed. Do not rush the process. Once both are relaxed, you can allow supervised interaction without the leash so that your cat and ferret can build a friendship. 

It is not possible to put a timeline on the introduction and familiarization process as it depends on the nature of your pets. Do not beat yourself up if it takes longer than you expect. 

You need to be constantly aware of body language from both. If your cat’s ears go back or you hear hissing or growling, then pause or halt the session and try again later. 

If you introduce a new animal to a much older, very established pet, respect that this is a significant upheaval for the senior animal and be prepared that you may not meet with success. 

You know your pets best, so you are the person who can make the wisest decision. However, if in doubt, always consult your veterinarian and do not force your pets. 

Ways To Protect Ferrets From Cats

Other than being on-hand to supervise your cat and ferret as they interact, here are eight other ways that you can offer protection to your ferret from your cat; 

● High vantage point– as mentioned earlier, cats can leap up to six times their body length.

If your ferret is agitating your cat and the cat needs some time out, let them have a high vantage point to escape to that the ferret cannot reach but from which your cat can still observe what is going on. This will help to stop your cat from reacting aggressively if it feels trapped by your ferret. 

● Spaying and neutering – it is thought that cats and ferrets become less aggressive and calmer if spayed or neutered. If both pets have been de-sexed, then the likelihood of fighting is reduced.

Bear in mind that this does not guarantee they will not scrap, but hopefully, it will be rarer and less aggressive if it happens. 

● Separate toys – like children, cats and ferrets can become possessive over their favorite toys. In the author’s home, a certain purple soft toy is jealously guarded by the youngest cat. The same will apply to the cats and ferrets; let them have their toys and playthings to avoid falling out. 

● Space – it is not just humans that need personal space from time to time, but cats do too. Allow your cat to have some personal time away from the ferret. If your cat is allowed outside, they can get this when they are outdoors.

Ferrets are tenacious and may not understand when your cat has had enough. By allowing the kitty some personal space, you are protecting your ferret from your cat lashing out. 

Equally, ensure your ferret has a bolt hole that they can go to if they feel threatened by your cat.

● Feed in separate bowls – you may do this anyway if you have more than one animal, but feed your pets using different bowls. This can prevent aggressive behavior from developing over food and allow you to protect your ferret.

● Different rooms – if your cat and ferret do not get on, then you may need to keep your ferret confined to one room and not allow your cat in there at all. It is better to do this with your ferret than a cat, as you will need to cage your ferret sometimes due to their unintentional destructive behavior.

It is also easier to ‘lose’ a ferret as they like to creep into small, dark spaces to sleep, and you may accidentally trip over them or sit on them. 

● Provide mental stimulation – ensure that your cat has plenty to occupy them so that they do not become bored and start to fight or bully your ferret. Climbing frames, ping pong balls, toys, and interaction with yourself will all help to alleviate any tedium of their indoor lives.

● Vaccinations – it is wise to ensure that your cat and ferret are fully vaccinated. Although your ferret is likely to be confined indoors or in an outdoor enclosure, it can carry bacteria that may make your ferret ill if your cat can roam outdoors. 

Things To Consider 

  • Ferrets are very intelligent creatures. Based on her method of measuring an animal’s intelligence, Erika Matulich declared in 2002 that ferrets have good memory retention and problem-solving skills.
  • This means that you should ‘ferret proof’ your home and ensure that you have secure locks or fastenings on your ferret’s cage. Ferrets can and will work out how to open the door to escape. They will then be free to fight with your cat if the two do not get on.  
  • Ferrets are inquisitive creatures and will sneak out of your home or the room they are confined in if the opportunity arises. If your ferret is lose, be sure that any routes to the great outdoors are sealed.
  • This includes air vents. Ferrets can squeeze themselves into tiny spaces, so do not assume that the little rascals won’t make it through a small vent and into the paws of your cat.
  • Although the high protein diet of mustelids and felines is very similar, they cannot eat or digest the same meals. Ferrets cannot digest the fiber found in adult dry cat food. Also, fish is thought to make ferrets smell bad. A live prey or Frankenprey based diet will work for both.
  • Before introducing any new furry family member, consider the age and temperament of the established pets. If they have a very jealous or aggressive nature, it is unlikely that the two will get along.