Guinea Pigs and Cats: Can They Be Friends?

When visiting a zoo, you will notice that they keep predators and prey animals, but they never share the same space. The same principle applies when keeping a guinea pig and a cat in the same household. Although some owners have succeeded in getting their docile felines and cavies to coexist, the unconventional friendship must be closely supervised.

Guinea pigs and cats do not naturally get along. Cats are predators that must never be left unsupervised with prey animals. Although some cats appear docile and uninterested, piggies can die from fear and stress from having a predator in the same environment.

Guinea pigs are social animals that should always be kept in groups, but teaming them up with a carnivore is a recipe for disaster. If you have a cat and a cavy, let’s find out how to keep them both safe and content.

Do Guinea Pigs And Cats Get Along?

Cavies are naturally skittish prey animals that live life on high alert. Their stocky bodies and lack of natural defenses mean their survival depends mainly on eluding predators.

Cats hunt rodents instinctively. They are agile and naturally curious, and no matter how well-fed your domestic feline may be, their need to engage with prey animals is strong. One theory is that even though house cats don’t need to kill to survive, the death of other pets often results because of them playing roughly.

Keeping a predator animal and a cavy can be highly stressful to the rodent. According to the USDA, the presence of other pets, especially cats and dogs, can negatively impact the health and welfare of guinea pigs.

Even if the cat never touches the piggy, living in close proximity to a predator can lead to the cavy exhibiting stress-related behaviors. Some common signs that a guinea pig is on edge include:

  • Depression and inactivity. The piggy may spend a lot of time hiding.
  • Irritability or aggression. Instead of being focused on regular piggy interactions, the animals may begin to display undesired behaviors.
  • Digestive issues. Piggies must spend a lot of time eating to keep their digestive system healthy. Living in stressful conditions can result in physical problems like weight loss or diarrhea.

Pairing up a guinea pig and a cat would be unfair to both animals. Cavies are herd animals that are happiest when kept separate from other species, including rabbits and hamsters. Even if a kitty and a piggy have learned to accept each other, they must never be left unsupervised.

Can Cats And Guinea Pigs Get Along?

With plenty of patience and training, cats and cavies can sometimes learn to accept one another. These types of blended families work best when the animals are introduced when they are very young.

No matter how long a feline and cavy have known each other, they can never be left unsupervised. The piggy would never be entirely safe with an animal with such strong hunting instincts, and it could get injured simply from rough playing.

Your friendly house cat may not intentionally injure its piggy friend, but because it is much bigger and comes equipped with formidable teeth and claws, even a playful swipe at a cavy could result in an injury. A friendly piggy may try to nibble or groom its kitty friend, which could trigger a usually docile cat’s instinctive hunting instinct.

In homes with cats and guinea pigs, the cavy cage must have a top. Even if the cage is in a separate room, it must be entirely cat-proofed so your piggies are accommodated in a secure environment that is completely safe from the curious little hunter.

How To Keep Your Guinea Pig Safe From A Cat

Although guinea pigs and cats can get used to each other’s presence, your piggies must live in impenetrable maximum security conditions if there are felines in the same home. Even if your cat is accepting and calm, adding extra layers of security for your cavies’ living quarters will ensure they stay out of harm’s way.

While every home is different, there are several practical ways to keep your piggies safe:

  1. Keep the guinea pig cage in a room that is out of bounds to the cat. Remember that piggies are nervous creatures that can be affected by stress, even if the cat can’t physically harm them.
  2. Purchase a sturdy, good-quality cage that has a top. The cage must be strong enough for the cat to climb onto without any chance of it collapsing.
  3. Add zip ties to the cage openings. This will prevent your cat from being able to pry open a door.
  4. Establish sound pet rules for everyone in the household. Ensure that everyone, including children, understands the potential danger that your cat poses to the piggies.
  5. Supervise all interactions. Some cats and cavies learn to get along, but they must never enjoy any interspecies alone time.

Can Cats Make Guinea Pigs Sick?

Cavies are fragile animals that are highly susceptible to respiratory diseases. That is why it is essential to position their cages away from drafts or cool air vents that may result in them developing infections.

Cats and dogs can pass Bordetella bronchiseptica to guinea pigs. In dogs, this is commonly referred to as kennel cough. The bacterial disease is called feline bordetellosis in cats. It is a highly infectious respiratory illness that can be transmitted through the air to a cavy simply by an infected animal sneezing.

Guinea pigs are highly susceptible to Bordetella; infection can quickly lead to pneumonia. Since other animals, such as cats and dogs, may not show any symptoms of being infected with the bacteria, it is safer to keep guinea pigs away from other pets.

What Pets Can You Keep With Guinea Pigs?

The best companion pets for guinea pigs are other guinea pigs. Despite being rodents, rats, rabbits, and hamsters are not good companions for piggies as their habits, diet, and lifestyles differ significantly.

Cavies are peaceful herd animals. Since many cavy breeds exist, you can mix and match colors and piggy hair length when adding more pets. When acquiring an additional cavy, consider its personality in relation to your existing group and ensure that your cage is big enough.

Conclusion

Guinea pigs and cats do not naturally get along. Cats instinctively hunt rodents, and cavies are skittish animals programmed to avoid predators. In some rare cases, piggies and cats can learn to interact with one another comfortably, especially when they are introduced when the cat is a tiny kitten. Interactions must always be strictly supervised.