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How to Cat-Proof Your Fish Tank (6 Proven Methods)

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By Lindsey Stanton

cat sitting on the aquarium

You’ve spent hours setting up your fish tank and your fish seem happy in their new home. You walk away for a few minutes, and you see a fur streak run by you heading straight for the tank. You rush to grab your cat, but it’s too late, his paw is in the tank and he’s trying to catch himself a snack. Chaos is happening in the tank as the fish swim around in terror. You try to grab the cat and he executes a flip in midair and takes off running. Your fish are freaked out and you’re left wondering, ‘Now what? How do I cat-proof my tank so this doesn’t happen again?’

Here are 6 proven methods for cat-proofing your fish tank.

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The 6 Proven Methods for Cat-Proofing Your Fish Tank

1. Buy an Aquarium with a Lid

It’s always best to buy an aquarium with a lid if you have cats at home. Cats are natural hunters, and the movement of the fish engages their predatory instincts. Purchasing an aquarium with a lid will keep your cat out of the tank. It also has the added benefit of preventing your fish from jumping out of the tank because a lid prevents their escape (see a certain Disney movie about a clownfish as an example). Another bonus is that lids with LED lights help promote growth for any plants in the tank, as well as show off the different colors of your fish.

The Aqueon LED Fish Aquarium Starter Kit gives you everything you need to get a great setup and keep your cat from hunting your fish.

acrylic aquarium
Image Credit: BLUR LIFE 1975, Shutterstock

2. Cover Your Tank from Prying Kitty Eyes

You bought a lid for your aquarium and your fish are thankful for the added protection from any wayward paws. Your cat is still fascinated by the movement of the fish and keeps batting at the glass, which is stressing out your fish. The next step to protect your fish is to hide the tank from the cat. Covering the tank with a towel or blanket hides the sight of the moving fish from your cat and your cat should lose interest once the show is gone.

cat infornt of aquarium
Image Credit: Piqsels

3. Lock the Door

Your cat is the picture of innocence when you’re in the room with it and the fish. As soon as you walk away though, Boom! He’s batting at the tank, trying to get to his new favorite playthings. The best course of action to take in this instance is to remove the cat from the room and close the door. This should be done when you leave for the day, or when you’re sleeping, so your cat doesn’t stress your fish while you’re not around.

cat near closed door
Image Credit: JMoreira93, Shutterstock

4. Keep Your Cat Off Your Aquarium Surfaces

This is easier said than done, we understand that, but there are tools out there to help with training your cat to stay off certain surfaces. You can add Sticky Paws Tape to your aquarium top, or the surfaces around your tank. Cats do not like to sit on sticky surfaces. They worry about losing sensation when something is stuck to their paws and they will avoid that happening because it could interfere with their play.

You can also cover the aquarium lid or the surfaces around the tank with aluminum foil as cats do not like the way it sounds or the way it feels on their paws.

aquarium cleaning
Image Credit: hedgehog94, Shutterstock

5. Remove Launching Pad Surfaces

Your cat is sitting next to you and it suddenly launches itself off the couch onto the aquarium next to you almost toppling it in the process. Cat owners understand once their cats get fixated on something, it’s hard to keep them from launching themselves from surface to surface. If you have a leaper on your hands, it’s best to put the aquarium further away from any surfaces that the cat can jump from to the aquarium.

If that’s not possible because of space constraints, put objects on the surface to make it difficult for the cat to use as a jumping-off point.

blue tabby maine coon jumping
Image Credit: Nils Jacobi, Shutterstock

6. Train and Distract Your Cat

One of the simplest ways to train your cat to stay away from the fish tank is to squirt them with water from a squirt bottle. Another option is the PetSafe SSSCAT Motion-Activated Dog & Cat Spray, which is a motion-operated option that sprays a harmless spray to deter your pet from going after your fish. You can also use distractions to help divert your cat from the aquarium. A motorized toy with catnip, such as the Jackson Galaxy Motor Mouse Cat Toy, will be way more interesting to your feline friend than the fish behind the glass.

cat playing cat toy
Image Credit: Flensshot, Pixabay

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Hopefully, you’ve recovered from the earlier trauma of your cat suddenly displaying Olympic gold medal-winning gymnastics skills and your fish seem to have calmed down too. You’re armed with cat-proofing options: buying an aquarium with a lid, covering your tank with a blanket or towel, or keeping your cat off aquarium surfaces using deterrents. You’re also ready to remove any launching pad surfaces and train, or distract, your cat to learn to stay away from the tank.

Try to implement some, or all, of the methods mentioned above to cat-proof your fish tank. And if all else fails, you can do the ultimate cat-proof and lock your cat out of the room where the aquarium and its inhabitants reside.

Related Read: How to Protect Your Fish Pond From Cats (Proven Methods)

Featured Image Credit: Maleo, Shutterstock

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