When many people think of pets, it’s usually the images of a cat and dog that spring to mind. But for most pet lovers, there’s a long list of other furry, feathery, and even scaly companions that can make up our households. One such animal is the guinea pig.
Guinea pigs were originally domesticated as livestock, where they were mainly bred as a source of meat and fur. Over the years, however, the guinea pig has become a common household pet around the world.
Most pet fanciers love guinea pigs for their vocal personalities, which makes it easier to establish a strong attachment to them. These tiny rodents are also lively and fun to play with. Plus, they live considerably longer than most rodents.
But if you also own cats, there are fundamental questions to settle before bringing a guinea pig home. That’s because these animals will be sharing the same living space and there’s no guarantee that they’ll get along. So, before bringing a guinea pig to a home with cats, it’s natural to find yourself wondering, do cats eat guinea pigs?
The simple answer is yes, cats can kill and eat guinea pigs. A cat is inherently a predator, whereas the guinea pig is a prey. While these animals have been domesticated by man for thousands of years, their predatory and prey instincts are pretty much intact.
It’s not unusual to find a cat frantically chasing after a frightened guinea pig. Depending on how strong your cat’s predatory instincts are, he may actually hunt down and kill your guinea pig. And because cats are also obligate carnivores, he won’t mind eating the dead guinea pig.
That said, it’s still possible for guinea pigs and cats to share the same living space. Read on for more insights into that.
Can You Have Guinea Pigs With Cats?
We’ve just mentioned that cats are inherently predators, whereas guinea pigs are prey. Rarely do predators and prey share the same living space. It’s uncommon to find an antelope roaming freely in a lion’s lair, or a bison interacting happily with a pack of wolves.
However, that’s ideally how the situation should be in the wild. The scenario may not necessarily be the same when it comes to domesticated animals. While the domestic cat and the guinea pig still have their predatory and prey instincts, respectively, it’s possible to train these animals to get along.
So, if you’re skeptical about bringing a guinea pig to a home with cats, it’s reassuring to know that you can have guinea pigs with cats in the same household.
With proper training, cats and guinea pigs may end up coexisting peacefully. In fact, the animals might become so attached to one another that they would constantly be looking out for each other.
In addition to proper training and socialization, you’ll also need to create safe zones for your guinea pigs. This will help to avoid undue conflicts. Remember, there will still be occasional squabbles between these animals. And since the guinea pig is the prey, he’ll need a place to escape whenever he feels threatened.
What Makes It Difficult For Cats And Guinea Pigs To Get Along?
One common concern raised by pet parents is, “my cat ate my guinea pig and I feel devastated, is there anything I can do to prevent such occurrences in the future?”
First off, experts discourage scolding your cat if you discover that he killed and ate your guinea pig. Shouting or yelling at the cat may be counterproductive. The only way to prevent future hostile interactions between cats and guinea pigs is to train and socialize the animals properly.
You’ll also need to introduce the two animals carefully to one another. But even before you get to that part, it’s important to understand what makes it difficult for cats to get along with guinea pigs.
The following are the primary reasons behind conflicts between cats and guinea pigs.
1. Cats Have Strong Predatory Instincts
As we’ve already repeated, cats are natural predators while guinea pigs are prey. Predatory instincts normally kick in when a potential prey attempts to run away from a predator.
In this case, the sight of your guinea pig running away from your cat is all it takes to trigger the cat’s predatory drive. The cat will interpret that action as an attempt to escape. In response, he will run after the guinea pig, catch him, and subdue him to the ground.
The frightened guinea pig will likely fight back to avoid getting preyed upon. Unfortunately, that will only fuel the cat’s predatory drive. Without a timely distraction or your direct intervention, the cat may kill the guinea pig and go ahead to eat it.
So, will a cat kill a guinea pig?
Yes, a cat will definitely kill a guinea pig out of his natural predatory response. The fact that guinea pigs are rodents, and rodents are among a cat’s favored prey, only complicates the situation further. For most cats, the guinea pig pretty much looks like a standard mouse or rat.
2. Guinea Pigs Are Smaller
Size plays a fundamental role in determining how easily domesticated animals can get along. For instance, most dogs domineer over cats mainly because they’re the larger pet. The same can happen between cats and guinea pigs.
While guinea pigs are larger than most rodents, they’re much smaller and more fragile than most cat breeds. A fully grown guinea pig measures between 20 and 25 centimeters (8 and 10 inches), and weighs between 0.7 and 1.2 kilograms (1.5 and 2.6 pounds).
For comparison, most cats can grow up to 18 inches tall (distance measured between the paw and shoulder), and weigh as much as 10 pounds. Larger cat breeds like the Maine Coon can measure and weigh twice as much.
Just by sheer size, a cat can easily domineer over a guinea pig. So, even a playful paw might inflict severe injuries and result in violent confrontations.
Maybe you’ve always wondered, are cats a danger to guinea pigs?
Yes, a cat’s sheer size and predatory instincts make him an outright danger to guinea pigs. Without proper training and early socialization, your feline friend will easily chase, kill, and even eat your guinea pigs.
3. Cats and Guinea Pigs Share Certain Character Traits
Guinea pigs are playful, fun-loving creatures who require constant entertainment and physical stimulation. The same is true for cats.
Since both animals are hyperactive in nature, they’ll cross paths with each other more often than you may think. Ideally, that shouldn’t be a problem if these interactions involve only cats or only guinea pigs. But in a situation where there’s more than enough pent-up energy to expend and not enough ways to release it, the animals may invariably find themselves involved in play-fighting.
Play-fighting is never healthy even if it happens between animals of the same species. It’s even worse if one of the parties involved is a predator. In this case, your cat will not fathom getting defeated by the guinea pig. To assert his dominance, the cat may turn violent and try to kill the guinea pig.
That begs the question, will cats harm guinea pigs?
Although both cats and guinea pigs are playful by nature, their encounters will not always have a happy ending. It’s even worse considering that both animals are also highly territorial. Even if they’re not squabbling for the same toys or embroiled in play-fighting, they could still engage in vicious turf wars.
Do Cats Attack Guinea Pigs?
Even after reviewing some of the factors that make it difficult for cats and guinea pigs to get along, you may still find yourself wondering, do cats chase guinea pigs?
Again, cats will easily chase guinea pigs. Most of the time, a cat will chase a guinea pig in response to his predatory instincts. But there’s usually no telling how the chase will end.
A timely distraction could stop the cat in his tracks. Unfortunately, some chases may have tragic endings. In these cases, a cat will not only chase a guinea pig. He may actually catch the animal, kill him, and even eat him.
But as you’re about to find out, there are certain tips you can implement to make your cat get along with guinea pigs.
Do Cats And Guinea Pigs Get Along?
If planning to bring a guinea pig to a home with cats, you may find yourself asking some tough questions, such as – do cats like guinea pigs?
Cats will not easily get along with guinea pigs. That’s for the simple reason that cats are predators, whereas guinea pigs are prey. In an ideal situation, predators and prey do not exist harmoniously.
The fact that the guinea pig is a rodent and cats naturally prey on rodents makes the idea of bringing a guinea pig to a household with cats even less attractive.
But as we mentioned at the beginning, it’s possible for cats and guinea pigs to get along. Although it will require some effort on your part, your cats and guinea pigs will comfortably coexist on a long enough timeline.
So, how do I protect my guinea pigs from my cat and get them to live together?
Here’s how to make cats and guinea pigs get along;
1. Buy a Guinea Pig From a Reputable Breeder
The assumption here is that you’re bringing a guinea pig to a house with cats, and that the cats are already well-socialized. So, the focus should be on the guinea pig.
Most pet parents already appreciate the importance of procuring pets from reputable breeders as opposed to rescue shelters. Buying a guinea pig from a licensed breeder allows you to learn more about the animal’s medical history, especially with regards to his mental health and overall personality.
For instance, you’d want to know whether the animal is suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). PTSD can adversely affect how pets interact with each other. If a guinea pig had previous traumatic encounters with cats, he may not cope well in a household with cats.
You’d also want to find out if the guinea pig you’re about to buy is too skittish or easily excitable. These personality traits will determine how harmoniously the animal will coexist with your cat.
2. Introduce the Animals Properly
It’s not enough to buy a guinea pig from a licensed breeder. You’ll also need to introduce the animal carefully to your resident cat.
That may get you wondering, how do I introduce my guinea pig to my cats?
When introducing a guinea pig and a cat to one another, be sure to maintain a safe place for both pets. This is a place where the animals can escape to whenever they feel scared. Pay particular attention to the guinea pig. That’s because he’s the prey as well as the newcomer, hence more likely to feel threatened.
In addition to a safe place, it’s also prudent to create an open space where the cat and the guinea pig can freely meet each other.
Experts recommend a large, open space, such as your backyard or front yard. Most importantly, you should be there to supervise the animals to avert possible conflicts.
Another best practice when introducing cats and guinea pigs is to take it slow. Obviously, you can’t expect the animals to get along on the first encounter.
On the first day, you can have the cat and the guinea pig in separate rooms of the house before they get to see each other. Since both animals are blessed with powerful senses of smell, they’ll be able to pick up and store each other’s scents. Scent familiarity will help to avert violent encounters when the animals finally get to see each other.
On day two, you can allow the animals to meet and have quick eye contact. Ensure you’re there, offering a physical buffer in case your cat gets overly curious. Pet both animals by rubbing their fur so they know you love them both.
With time, you can increase the intervals and duration of these meetings. If possible, introduce a treat to reassure the animals that you approve of them getting along.
3. Maintain Constant Supervision
No matter how well your cat may seem to get along with your guinea pig, there will always be fights. In most cases, the cat will be the aggressor.
You can avert future confrontations by maintaining constant supervision. Make provisions for separate feeding spots, feeding hours, toys, and sleeping areas. You might also want to cat-proof your guinea pig crate.
That begs the question, how do you cat-proof a guinea pig cage?
The best way to cat-proof your guinea pig’s cage is to keep the cage locked at all times. Also, go for a cage that’s solid enough to keep the cat’s teeth and claws at bay.
Other Frequently Asked Questions About Cats and Guinea Pigs
Can cats be allergic to guinea pigs?
Cats are not known to be allergic to guinea pigs. The unusual reactions that could result from a cat interacting with a guinea pig are more behavioral than medical. The cat may seem restless and curious because of the newcomer. But that’s usually not an indication of allergic reactions.
Can guinea pigs make cats sick?
We’ve already indicated that guinea pigs may not trigger any allergic reactions in cats. However, the situation may be a bit different if your cat happens to have eaten a guinea pig. Eating raw guinea pig meat, especially for the first time, may cause gastrointestinal upset.
Do kittens and guinea pigs get along?
Kittens are much smaller and may not look too frightening to guinea pigs compared to adult cats. Kittens are also less prejudiced and do not consider guinea pigs as potential prey. So, kittens may get along with guinea pigs better than mature cats. That’s especially if the guinea pig is also fairly young.
Cats and guinea pigs naturally do not get along. That’s because a cat is a predator while a guinea pig is prey. But with proper training and socialization, these animals can live harmoniously with each other.
As a parting shot, it’s important to monitor your cat and guinea pig continuously to avert any violent confrontations. Also, ensure each animal has his own playing patch (complete with toys), feeding area, feeding time, and sleeping zone.
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