Guinea pigs can make a great addition to a family, but their safety and care should be your main concern.
For example, if you have a cat, you need to take precautions to ensure it does not see the cavy as a snack!
Your aim should be to ensure that your pets can get along but if not, keeping your cat and cavy separate is preferable.
Do Cats and Guinea Pigs Get Along?
While most domesticated cats get along with guinea pigs, some can give into their predatory instincts. So you cannot introduce them immediately.
While cavies are docile, cats are unpredictable and can attack without provocation. In other words, their relationship will depend on your feline’s behavior.
As friendly as your cat seems to be, it may pounce on your vulnerable guinea pig in the blink of an eye.
Since the cavy is domesticated, it may be slow in escaping and can end up in your cat’s claws.
So, the first thing you need to do is to accept the fact that your cat’s hunting instincts will never completely go away.
However, you can still ensure your guinea pig remains unscathed during an encounter with your cat.
Here are some things you need to keep in mind when you are trying to make both pets comfortable around each other:
Your Cat Will Be Nervous At First
In the first introduction, your cat may be nervous or even scared of the guinea pig.
At this point, it will either hiss at the cavy, attack it, try to intimidate it, or just run away with ears back and tail tucked between its legs.
However, with time it will get used to the pig’s presence and may come closer to investigate and sniff it.
However, don’t get excited if this happens. If the cat comes closer, you have to be extra vigilant because it is close enough to attack.
Even if it moves away, make sure the cat and guinea pig don’t interact without supervision.
Your kitty may just be waiting to be left alone with the rodent before pouncing.
Things to Know when Keeping Cats and Guinea Pigs Together
It’s definitely possible to keep cats and guinea pigs together, but you need to be extra careful in the beginning and make sure you ease them into knowing each other.
Here are some important tips that you should keep in mind if planning to keep cats and guinea pigs together.
Introduce Your Pets As Early As Possible
If your cat and guinea pig are young, chances are that they will become used to each other faster than if they are older and more cautious.
Cats that are less than ten months old are at the best age for socializing.
It will be especially curious about the new addition and will be more accepting if it is introduced early rather than later when it has developed its predatory instincts.
This is common among house cats that are allowed to go outside and hunt for small animals on their own.
To prevent it from associating your guinea pig with food, introduce it to the rodent as soon as possible.
Keep Your Guinea Pigs in a Solid Cage
When a cat tags another animal as prey, there is no stopping it.
Even if you stop it from attacking once, it will bide its time before making another attempt. It may even break the cage to get to the cavy when you are asleep or away.
Even if it doesn’t plan on killing it, your cat may seriously injure the cavy with its teeth and claws while playing with it.
Prevent that from happening by getting a strong cage for your furry rodent.
You can find a variety of cages in your local pet store where you got the rodent from.
A cage with bars will do, but make sure these bars are close together so your cat can’t squeeze through.
Get a Cage with a Lid
If you have predators in the house, like a cat or dog, make sure you get a cage for your cavy that has a solid lid on top.
It will prevent it from escaping and will keep other pets out.
There are several ways you can secure a cage.
Some come with single-handle mechanisms that your guinea pig cannot breakthrough.
Some have plastic doors that can be opened and shut with a snap but are too strong for your pet to break through.
You can also get in touch with the manufacturer of the cage and ask them how to keep it secure.
After securing the cage, bring the cat into the room in your arms so that it can see the locked-up guinea pig.
Do this a couple of times so it gets used to seeing it.
Whether your cat and guinea pig get along or not, you should keep the cavies in a separate room- preferably in an area where the cat doesn’t go or is not allowed in.
If you don’t have such a room, pick a location that your feline will not be able to reach.
Plus, make sure that their toys are kept separate from the ones that the cat plays with.
Plus, do not allow your cat to sit on top of the cage or near it. It may try to take a swipe at the guinea pigs that will not have anywhere to escape.
Make the Other Pet’s Presence Apparent
Before introducing your cat to your guinea pigs, emphasize its presence with its scent.
This may seem questionable at first, but it will work.
All you need to do is place the cat’s food bowl just outside the door of the room where you keep the cage of your guinea pig.
Do this without getting nervous or excited as if it’s the most normal thing in the world so your pets don’t get agitated.
If your cat gets excited when it smells the guinea pigs or after seeing them, remove them from the area. Don’t push it out.
Just pick up your cat like you normally would and take it to another room. That way, you won’t pique its interest and compel it to investigate.
Cats are curious by nature and they will try and see what you are trying to hide if you get agitated.
If your cat is relaxed, place a cloth with the guinea pigs’ scent near its food bowl. It will smell the cloth for a while before moving to its food.
Leave the cloth there and stroke your cat as it eats.
This will make it associate the scent with normal activity. Do this a couple of times before introducing your guinea pig to the cat, especially when it stops sniffing the cloth.
Pet Both At the Same Time
This is a good idea if your cat isn’t aggressive.
Here is what you need to do. Make a friend hold your cat and sit in front of them holding your guinea pig.
You should be close enough to reach out and touch your cat.
After sitting down, reach out to stroke your cat and then pet your guinea pig immediately after.
Do this a couple of times to show both animals that they are harmless and to calm them down. Reward good behavior with treats and affection.
This will do two things. It will make the animals familiar with one another, and secondly, it will reinforce their harmless nature.
No animal attacks unless it is hungry or scared, so make sure your pets have a full belly and are calm before attempting this trick.
Make Sure Your Family Knows the Rules
If you have a large family, make sure that each member knows what you are doing to keep the guinea pigs safe.
This includes ensuring that the cat is supervised in its presence.
If you have guests over, including small kids, explain how they should interact with the animals and why they should keep them separate from one another.
If you are away from home, let your family know and make one person responsible for the animals.
Even if they seem calm and friendly in each other’s presence, the cat can get excited at a moment’s notice and pounce.
Once it has the guinea pig in its mouth, getting it to drop it will be impossible especially if it runs away with it.
Make sure that each member of your family knows the rules so you don’t return to a bloodbath!
The process will be far from simple or easy especially if your pets are uncooperative or scared at first.
However, the worst thing you can do is lose patience and return them to the shelter or pet store.
Remember, they depend on their instincts and if you are nervous or angry, they will pick up on that negative energy and react accordingly.
By react we mean they will think something is wrong and will either try to flee or in the case of the cat, attack.
You may even get injured in the process so remaining calm and patient is really in your best interests.
Don’t force the animals to like each other though.
Both of them have different personalities and if they clash, it’s ok to keep them in different areas.
If you try and hasten the process you will stress them out to the point that they may stop eating or get aggressive.
Maintain a neutral stance and you will be successful.
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