Cat and mouse: two animal species that basically only get along to a limited extent. It’s been proven that cats and mice don’t get along very well, and not just since Tom and Jerry.
But does that also apply to cats and gerbils?
The good news: under certain conditions, cats and gerbils can be kept in the same household without any problems.
What are those, including the 5 best tips for keeping them together, we tell you in this article.
Is it possible to keep gerbils and cats in one household?
Yes, under certain conditions it is definitely possible to keep gerbils and cats together in one household. However, it can happen that keeping the two species of animals can cause a lot of stress for both cat and gerbil.
Depending on their character, it is also possible that the animals are not very interested in each other.
In order to better understand why gerbils and cats are not friends and why the presence of each other can cause enormous stress, we will first clarify the question of whether and why gerbils are so afraid of cats.
Are gerbils afraid of cats?
Yes, gerbils are afraid of cats!
This is because cats are hunters, while gerbils are prey animals and are on the menu of wild cats in the wild.
So it’s only natural for your gerbil to instinctively get scared as soon as a cat appears in its vicinity.
This flight instinct will be aroused even if your cat is not interested in your gerbil at all.
However, with time your gerbil can learn to tolerate the cat and will understand that it is not a danger.
Still, even with the most loving cat, you should avoid letting it be with your gerbil without a barrier.
Also it can be helpful if your cat already makes acquaintance with your gerbils at the age of a few weeks, in order to learn from the beginning that these little animals also live in the house and are no “snack for in between”.
But what happens when it comes to the crunch: Would your cat hurt or even kill your gerbil and eat it?
We will now deal with this question in more detail.
Would my cat eat a gerbil?
It is likely that your cat would eat or kill your gerbil if it gets the opportunity to catch and eat your gerbil.
Therefore, make sure that your gerbil’s terrarium is well protected not only from the sides, but also from the top.
For this purpose, it is recommended to install a ‘lid’ consisting of fine-meshed wire in combination with a sturdy wooden frame, which can simply be placed on the terrarium and prevents your cat from fishing one of your gerbils out of the enclosure from above.
Especially with outdoor cats, chances are high that they will try to get at your gerbils. These cats are used to hunting for prey every day.
Purely apartment cats, on the other hand, are not at all familiar with stalking and catching, killing and possibly eating mice as well as other small animals.
Especially apartment cats that are used to gerbils from an early age often show rather less interest in your racers. So it may well be that such a cat would spare your gerbil in case of a direct encounter.
However, since there’s no guarantee of this, you shouldn’t take a chance on meeting!
5 tips: How to keep a gerbil safely together with a cat
- spatial separation
If your gerbils don’t see your cats – and vice versa – the stress potential is reduced to a minimum.
So unless you only have a 1-bedroom apartment, it might be an option for you to house your gerbils in a room that your cat doesn’t have access to.
Always keep the door to your gerbil room closed and only open it briefly to enter and exit. Also, make sure your cat doesn’t scurry in with you to the door unnoticed.
If the spatial separation can not be managed in this way, then a privacy screen can help.
Maybe you can put a room divider in front of the terrarium, so that the view is shielded a little bit.
It can also help if you turn the houses and burrows of your gerbils in such a way that your cat has no view and your gerbil consequently does not see the potential enemy.
- arrange a controlled meeting
It makes little sense to keep your cat and gerbils so that they are unaware of each other’s existence. After all, it can always happen that your animals see each other unexpectedly.
In view of this, it is helpful to introduce your animals to each other in a deliberate and controlled manner.
It is best to take your cat in your arms and walk with it to your gerbils.
Always keep enough distance so that both species feel comfortable and end the meeting when everyone is relaxed. This will create a positive experience for both parties.
- cover the enclosure of your gerbils
As mentioned earlier, it is highly advisable to protect your gerbils’ terrarium from all sides.
This way, you can prevent your cat from injuring or even killing one of your animals if your cat does gain unplanned access to your gerbils. This will not only keep you safe, but also your gerbils, who will otherwise be left unprotected by your cat.
Always remember that you alone have the full responsibility for the well-being of all animal roommates and therefore take your task seriously!
- provide for common relaxation
Prevent your cat from sitting in front of the terrarium and fixating your gerbils.
Ideally, your cat should be able to sleep in the same room as your gerbils.
You can achieve this by distracting your cat repeatedly, e.g. by practicing tricks with him in this room, feeding him, giving him treats, or just petting him in a relaxed way, if your cat wants to do so.
Create as many quiet moments as possible so that natural enemies can perhaps even become friends over time, not negatively affecting each other’s quality of life.
Of course, there are always cats in which the hunting instinct is so strong that a quiet meeting is simply not possible. In this case, the only thing that really helps is the consistent separation of both types of animals!
- pay attention to subtle vocal and body language signals.
Study the body language as well as the spoken language of gerbils and cats in order to be able to read both species in the best possible way.
This will give you deep insights into their current emotional state and you can act accordingly.
If you find that your gerbil or cat is too stressed, separate the animals and try again the next day with a different tactic once tempers have calmed on both sides.
Be patient, your animals will probably need a lot of time to get used to each other!
My name is Mark and the senior editor
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