Yes, cats can eat hamsters. Cats and hamsters are natural enemies. Cats are felines that are carnivores by nature. A cat will naturally be inclined to attack a hamster and eat it. Hamsters are rodents that cats instinctively hunt and kill.
If the cat is well-fed, it will still try to attack a hamster. This is because felines also tend to hunt for practice and sport. Not being hungry will reduce the cat’s chances of hunting a hamster but not eliminate it.
What are Hamsters?
Hamsters are small rodents that belong to the Cricetinae subfamily. They are common household pets and can be distinguished from other rodents due to their stubby legs, little ears, and short tails.
Hamsters can be found in various colors, such as black, white, brown, golden, reddish brown, and various colors.
Hamsters come in different species and sizes. Dwarf hamsters are usually between 2 to 4 inches long, hence named as such. Syrian hamsters are one of the largest hamster species and grow up to 6 inches long. Syrian hamsters are also known as golden hamsters or teddy bear hamsters and are common household pets.
The first hamster was discovered in Syria, after which hamsters were also found in Romania, Belgium, Greece, and the north of China. Syria brought some of the first domesticated hamsters to the US in 1936.
Hamsters are naturally nocturnal creatures that when in the wild, tend to live in warm and dry areas such as dunes, the edge of deserts, shrublands, river valleys, and rocky areas. Hamsters like to dig burrows and live and breed in them.
They are also known to store food inside their burrows. Hamsters prefer to live underground as it helps them retain cool weather. Hamsters can also be found in agricultural fields, orchards, and gardens.
Hamsters are also known to hibernate when the weather gets cold. They tend to store food in their burrows and wake up periodically from hibernation to eat. Hamsters have pouches in their cheeks where they stuff food. They take this food back to their burrows and eat it gradually.
Hamsters feed on seeds, fruits, vegetables, cracked corn, nuts, and grains. Wild hamsters are also known to eat insects, lizards, and frogs.
As hamsters are small mammals, they have a large number of predators. Both carnivores and omnivores usually eat them. Common predators include predatory mammals such as red foxes and badgers.
Snakes and birds of prey also eat hamsters. To avoid predators, hamsters have developed the instinct to sleep during the day and stay up.
Domesticated dogs and cats also hunt wild hamsters near human habitations. When hamsters are kept in captivity inside cages, household cats can also prey on them.
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Cats and Hamsters as Household Pets
Since cats and hamsters are natural enemies, keeping them in the same house as pets is difficult. There is a high chance the cat can attack the hamster and perhaps even eat it. Since hamsters fear cats, the hamster might get stressed by being in the cat’s presence.
However,a hamster and a cat can be kept together if they are kept in separate rooms at all times.
Remember that cats and hamsters can never be friends. Even if the cat is well-behaved and docile by nature, it can still kill and eat the hamster when given the opportunity.
All cats naturally prey on small mammals, birds, and invertebrates. A cat will never see the hamster as a pet; it will always see it as a rodent to hunt and kill.
When unsupervised, the cat will almost always stalk the hamster and pursue to kill. Therefore, you can never trust your pet cat with a hamster.
Cats and hamsters can co-exist, but this depends on factors such as your cat’s age, personality, and whether the hamster and the cat are allowed to interact.
Some cats may be more relaxed and disinterested in the hamster. In comparison, other cats may provoke the hamster for fun.
No matter your cat’s personality, it’s important not to let the cat and hamster roam around the house freely. If the cat is near, you should always be carrying the hamster, or the hamster should be in the cage.
Your hamster can never safely play with your cat. This is because hamsters are a cat’s natural food source. Also, cats play very differently from hamsters, and your hamster can get easily injured.
Cats are also much larger than hamsters and can easily kill them while playing. Hamsters also don’t have many natural defenses against a cat’s sharp claws and teeth.
Hamsters are also naturally scared of cats. A hamster will naturally consider a larger animal than itself a predator. Even if the hamster does not see the cat, the cat’s smell can also upset the hamster.
Just like other rodents, hamsters also have small and delicate hearts. Exposure to long-term stress can be fatal to them.
How to Keep Your Cat Away from Your Hamster
You must take precautionary steps if you have a cat and a hamster in the same house.
First of all, keep your hamster in a cat-proof cage. This should be a cage that is enclosed everywhere. There should be no open doors or covers. If there are bars, they should be very close together, so the cat’s paw cannot slip through them.
Ensure the door is secure, so neither the cat nor the hamster can open it. Also, ensure that the cage is heavy so the cat cannot push it off the table.
Keep the cat and the hamster in different rooms. Ensure the cat doesn’t gain access to the cage, so it doesn’t start at the hamster or poke the cage. The cat can also frighten the hamster by walking around the cage at night.
The hamster also needs to be in a different room from the cat because hamsters cannot always stay in their cage. Hamsters are curious animals that require mental stimulation. To keep them from getting bored, they need to be let out of the cage.
They should be able to run and explore. You can also create a little obstacle course for them with tunnels and bridges.
Ensure the door is closed when your hamster is out of the cage. Also, stay with your hamster as it runs around, plays, and explores. This can also be a great bonding activity between the hamster and the owner. Always ensure the hamster is safely in its cage before opening the door.
Can Cats Outrun Hamsters?
Cats can easily outrun hamsters if hamsters are let loose. Cats can bolt up to thirty mph, while hamsters can run up to three to six mph. Even if there is a large gap in between, cats can still easily pounce and get close enough to harm the hamster.
If a cat bites a hamster, it can be fatal. Even if a cat scratches a hamster, it can be very dangerous. This is because the scratch can get infected and will require veterinary care.
Cats can also scare hamsters very easily. This is because rodents have a faster heartbeat than average. Therefore, extreme fear and stress can also lead to their death. If a hamster is caught between the jaws of a cat, it may die of fear even before the cat bites it.
Can Hamsters Protect Themselves?
When in fear, hamsters usually squeal, scream, or freeze. They may stand on their hind legs with their front paws protectively before them when threatened.
An aggressive hamster also rolls on its back and bares its teeth. It will be ready to push away in case a predator is nearby. Even then, hamsters don’t stand a chance against cats. A pet hamster’s only chance of safety from a pet cat who wants to kill it is to remain safe in its cage.
Keeping a hamster in a separate space from your cat is imperative. Keeping them in different rooms is ideal because even if the cat can’t physically reach the hamster, it can still be around the cage. Even the sight of a cat can cause stress and fear in a hamster.
These delicate creatures have weak hearts, and with a sight of a predator nearby, they can easily get stressed and die. Your cat may also find a way to get near the hamster and attack it at any opportunity.
Also, always remember to keep your hamsters cage in a corner. This way, even if the cat gets near the cage, it can’t get behind it and push it down.
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My name is Everly. I am a Milwaukee-based mom of 2 and have been a proud owner of many hamsters throughout my life. Like many of us, my introduction to hamsters happened when I was very young. My family saw several hamsters come and go through the years, and I enjoyed playing with them, but I never fully appreciated them until I grew up and my own children decided to jump on the hamster bandwagon. At that point, I was determined to learn all I could about caring for these adorable pets. Read more