One question that I get asked a lot is whether it is possible for those who already have a cat to adopt rats as pets. There are a number of factors to consider before making this decision. While there are few people who say their cat poses no threat to their rodent friends and happily post photos of their cat and rat getting along, this is a very rare case and should not be treated as the norm.
I should point out at this stage that I live with my 2 pet rats, Pea and Mingles, my dog, Charlie, a Maltese x Shitzu and my cat, Dylan, a Ragdoll x Persian. All of my animals are rescued and they are all wonderful in different ways. However, despite his Ragdoll bloodline, Dylan definitely has the hunting instinct and would never let rats run out of the rat cage while he’s in the room. It is important to remember that even if you choose a gentle breed like a pure Ragdoll cat and have them from a kitten, you should never leave them out with your pet rats.
It is possible to keep rats as a pet if you have a cat, although you should weigh the pros and cons before adopting your new pets. Here are some things to consider:
1. Separation – You should be able to easily separate your cat and rats when you want to let the rats out. This could mean using a spare room as a ramshackle room. This is what I do. The free room is free from rat hazards like wires, sharp objects, and small things that they could choke on. It is also completely sealed. There are no small holes in the wall that rats can escape from. I try to spend an hour a day there with my rats. We can play together and I can train a little with them safely away from the mischievous claws and teeth of cats. I also have lots of fun tubes, boxes, and even a rat pool for them to explore. Cats are usually fine with this time outside and as long as they have plenty of room to roam and their food, water, and litter tray (and in our case a dog companion) will be fine.
2. Security – You must be 100% sure that your rat cage is secure. Of course, you would need to do this anyway, because you don’t want your rats to run away and put themselves in danger. When we first adopted our two rats, Pea and Mingles, the old owners gave us their cage and it had a hole in it. It was a small hole and I blocked it with plastic boxes and duct tape, but I had the scare of my life when I found Pea running across the floor with Dylan the cat about to jump. Luckily I picked up Pea on time and the rats have moved into a 100% safe (and huge!) Cage, but don’t let your pets get into this situation. Rats are famous escape artists. You may think the space is too small for them to squeeze in, but they will surprise you. Make sure the rat cage is sturdy (cannot tip over) and that there are plenty of areas for rats to hide from prying eyes.
3. Common sense – You know your cat better than anyone, but even if you have the gentlest cat in the world who seems to want to be friends with your rats, be very careful and never leave them together unsupervised. I can have my rats sit on my shoulder while Dylan is sitting next to me on the couch, but if he’s sitting on top of the couch, I’m very careful. Rat tails are irresistible to most cats.
If you have a cat and are willing to go the extra mile to ensure the safety of your rats, then there is no reason why you shouldn’t keep rodent pets. However, make sure you have more than one rat. This is always best, as rats can keep each other company when in their rat cage. Even if you can spend a lot of time with your rat, when you’re out or sleeping, rats can snuggle, play together, and groom each other. It will make all the difference in their lives.
Rats can seem fearless at times, but if you have more than one cat, you may need to think about whether a rat is really a good pet for you and your family. Imagine how the rats will feel as all the cats investigate the cage and try to find ways to get inside.
If you have decided to adopt some rats, make sure you take responsibility for their well-being. If you have a child who has begged you for rats, they may learn some responsibility, but ultimately it is the adult who must look out for the welfare of the animals and make sure that cats are not a problem. It is also essential to ensure that your cats receive the same care as before, before new additions.
I hope this article helped you determine if keeping rats and cats together might work for your family.