When you bring pets into your home that are two different species, their relationship is likely to be complicated. Many species can potentially get along with each other, but others cannot. Sadly, cats and guinea pigs fall into this latter category.
The main problem with this pairing is that cats have an innate prey drive. Even laidback breeds have a prey drive, though they may not show it often. For this reason, cats are likely to see a guinea pig as prey. Truthfully, while these rodents are large, they can’t do much to withstand the onslaught of a cat.
Cats are effective hunters, so they can handle even these larger-than-average rodents. Guinea pigs are actually smaller than the average rat, which cats are well-known for hunting, along with mice. While they are larger than a mouse, that probably won’t make much of a difference to your cat.
Does Socialization Help?
When you want two animals to get along, socialization is typically the answer. If you want your dog to like other dogs, it is important that they are around plenty of other dogs from an early age. This allows them to learn how to get along with other canines and prevents them from becoming scared with they meet a new dog.
However, there are certain occasions where socialization isn’t enough. If there are innate instincts involved, then socialization probably won’t be effective.
This is why some dogs simply can’t be trusted around cats. Dogs with strong prey drives may see cats as prey animals, even after socialization. Cats and guinea pigs are in the same situation. Even if you’re careful to socialize your cat around guinea pigs from a young age, your cat may suddenly turn on them. It wouldn’t be surprising for a cat to kill a guinea pig that they’ve otherwise left alone for years.
One quick movement or a more-hyper-than-usual guinea pig is all it takes for your cat’s hunting instincts to kick in.
There is no way to eliminate a cat’s hunting instincts altogether, which means that there is no way to ensure that they won’t hurt a guinea pig. Cats simply weren’t made to get along with rodents.
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Can You Get a Guinea Pig When You Have a Cat?
While your cat will likely never be friends with your guinea pig, it is possible to keep them in the same home. Your job will simply be to keep the guinea pig safe from the cat, which can be done in a few different ways.
The easiest is to keep the guinea pig in a room that your cat isn’t allowed in. Your guinea pig won’t have to worry about the cat stalking their cage, and the cat probably won’t know what they’re missing out on. This prevents stress on all sides. However, this isn’t always possible.
In any case, you will need to ensure that your guinea pig’s cage is sturdy. When your cat is in hunting mode, a flimsy cage probably won’t stand a chance. Cats are nimble and are known for opening doors on rodent cages. Be sure the door is locked and the guinea pig is inaccessible to your cat.
Do You Have to Keep Your Guinea Pig and Cat Separate?
Yes, you may be tempted to introduce your pets to each other in an attempt to help them “get along,” but this isn’t recommended. Often, this sort of introduction will simply be stressful for your guinea pig and cat. It may also cause unnecessary injuries, even if you’re supervising. Cats are quick and guinea pigs are small. It doesn’t take much for injuries to occur.
Furthermore, there is no way to ensure that your pets will remain friends when you aren’t supervising them. Even if your cat seems to ignore the guinea pig, they cannot be trusted alone with them. This can easily cause injuries to occur.
Can Guinea Pigs Get Cats Sick?
While these two species can swap germs back and forth, cats are not at any serious risk for disease from guinea pigs. There are many diseases that cats can catch from different species, including humans. However, there is no particularly deadly disease that they may pick up from a guinea pig.
Generally, this is not the reason that you need to keep them separate.
Cats and guinea pigs cannot get along with any sort of predictability. Cats are hunters and their main prey is rodents. While guinea pigs may look big, they are actually smaller than your average rat. Cats were originally bred to control the rat population on farms, ships, and other places. They usually have no problem killing a rat. Most won’t have an issue killing a guinea pig either.
For this reason, you should aim to keep your cat and guinea pig separate. It may be tempting to introduce them to each other, but this isn’t recommended. It doesn’t take much for an encounter to quickly go wrong, especially with how fast and nimble cats are. Plus, even if your cat seems to get along with the guinea pig one time, that doesn’t mean the same thing will happen in the future.
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