We’ve all seen the Tom and Jerry cartoons where the cat chases the mouse, but have you ever wondered what would happen if a cat crossed paths with a guinea pig? Would the cat chase him like a mouse, or would they be friends? Do guinea pigs get along with cats?
Guinea pigs can get along with cats in some cases but they should never be together unsupervised. Cats’ instinctive behavior poses a threat to guinea pigs. Any interaction between cats and guinea pigs should be monitored closely for signs of stress. If the guinea pig appears frightened, place the guinea pig in their enclosure and remove the cat from the area.
Guinea pigs and cats aren’t likely friends, but they can interact safely under supervision if your cat has a calm and lazy personality. Continue reading to learn more about the relationship between cats and guinea pigs and how to keep your guinea pig safe while living in the same household as a cat.
Can Cats Hurt Guinea Pigs?
Cats are instinctive hunters and quick to try and catch anything that moves quickly, meaning that they can hurt and kill guinea pigs.
In the wild, cats are the natural predator, while guinea pigs are the prey, so depending on the nature of your cat, it is possible that your cat will try to hunt and kill your guinea pig.
Friendly cats can get caught up in their instincts as well, so if you put your guinea pig and cat together, make sure to supervise at all times.
Can Guinea Pigs and Cats Play Together?
Guinea pigs do not play in the same way as other types of animals like cats. However, guinea pigs can interact calmly with your cat under supervision depending on the personality of both animals.
If your cat is laidback and lazy, they are most likely to get along with a guinea pig. Young, playful, and energetic cats are best kept away from guinea pigs. If your cat has a more active hunting instinct, it’s best to keep them completely separate from your small pets.
Additionally, the personality of your guinea pig plays a role. Timid guinea pigs trigger a cat’s hunting instincts, so if your guinea pig is nervous or shows signs of fear around other animals, keep them away from your cat. Baby guinea pigs are often more energetic and jumpy, so they are not likely to be a good match for a cat.
A confident and outgoing guinea pig with a calm and laidback cat makes the best combination.
Calm and friendly cats are the easiest to introduce to a guinea pig but will still need to be heavily supervised.
All cats are hunters, and the scurrying of your guinea pig may trigger them to go into hunting mode. So never let cats – no matter their personality – play with your guinea pig unsupervised.
During any interactions, be vigilant for signs of stress or fear in both your cat and guinea pig. Quickly remove the cat from the room and put your guinea pig in his enclosure if you notice any of the following behaviors from your cat:
- Trying to paw or swat at the piggy
- Stiff upright tail or twitching tail
- Tensing or freezing
- Staring intently
While your cat is more expressive in showing stress, fear, or curiosity, your guinea pig is a bit more subtle. Be sure to remove your guinea pig from the situation immediately if you notice any of the following signs of stress in your guinea pig:
- Freezing or bug eyes
- Attempting to run or hide
- Short, nervous purrs
- Teeth chattering
- Yawning and baring their teeth
- Lunging or biting
If your guinea pig gets upset, be sure to help him calm down right away by giving them time and space away from you and your cat.
How Do You Introduce A Cat To A Guinea Pig?
While you may want to get started with playtime right away, it’s important to introduce your guinea pig to your cat slowly.
Just like any other animals, cats and guinea pigs can get stressed if something unfamiliar is in their environment.
To begin, make sure that you have a cat-proof enclosure for your guinea pig to hide away in. Place your guinea pig in an area where your cat will be unable to access them. This will prevent unwanted stress and harm to your guinea pig.
Allow both your guinea pig and cat to sniff blankets, toys, or other objects that belong to the other animal. This will allow your guinea pig and cat to get used to each other’s scent even before they meet.
After your guinea pig and cat have gotten used to each other’s scent, you can introduce them face to face. Patience is key in the process of introducing your pets. Put your guinea pig in a cage and then allow your cat to investigate for a few minutes.
Monitor them for signs of stress and stay close to discourage your cat from pawing through the cage bars. Reward them with treats and keep the encounter as calm as possible.
Continue this process until they seem calm enough to be introduced without an enclosure. When they seem ready, hold your guinea pig in your arms and have another person hold the cat.
You can walk slowly toward each other, petting them and allowing them to make eye contact. If you notice signs of stress, then back away slowly and try again another day.
Continue this process until the guinea pig and cat are close to each other without signs of stress.
Once they reach this point, you can let them sniff each other on the floor or a raised surface like a couch. Just remember to supervise them closely and never leave them alone together.
Discourage any pawing from your cat so they don’t accidentally scratch your piggy. If your cat likes to use their paws curiously, consider putting some soft claws caps on their nails to make the interaction safer for your guinea pig.
What Animals Can Live with Guinea Pigs?
While guinea pigs may get along with some cats, they can never be left alone together. So that defeats the point of giving your piggy social time.
Guinea pigs benefit from living with other animals, but the best animal to pair a guinea pig with is another guinea pig. Some people try to house guinea pigs with rabbits or even hamsters, but this is a disaster waiting to occur.
Mixing species is always a risk as personalities and communication styles are different for each type of animal. Guinea pigs are social animals that thrive on interaction with their own kind, so a same-sex pair of guinea pigs is your best bet for companionship.
Although you may have been picturing a Tom and Jerry situation, cats and guinea pigs can actually get along quite well under supervision if their personalities are a good match. Just remember that it will take time for them to get used to each other, and you should never leave them alone together. So keep a watchful eye and have a lot of patience as you watch their friendship grow.