When we took Gary into our home I didn’t really know anything about chinchillas or what their temperament was really like.
Thing is, due to the fact that Gary was quickly in need of a home, his temperament didn’t really matter to us at the time as we decided that we would deal with things as they came along.
In regular circumstances, I would recommend doing some research, as you are doing, to see whether or not your pets/future pets will get along.
When it comes to pairing animals up at home, it’s important to take note of whether or not the animals will stress each other out. This is especially true for canines and felines being placed into homes with small mammals, such as hamsters, chinchillas, guinea pigs, etc.
In most cases, small mammals do fairly well with felines and canines as long as the animals are separated from each other in moments where tensions begin to rise. It is also important that you give all the animals a break by regularly separating them from each other throughout the day.
This is especially important when small mammals are trying to sleep. If a cat or dog is in the room and the chinchilla can sense the other animal, the chinchilla may not want to sleep or may be unable to sleep.
So, let’s dive into whether or not chinchillas and cats are considered good family members or if you should steer clear of this duo.
IT DEPENDS ON THE TEMPERAMENT OF YOUR CAT(S)
If you are hoping to adopt another member of the family it is always a good idea to take a good look at the pets you already have.
Ask yourself some of the following questions:
Is my cat hyperactive?
Is my cat wired to hunt or stalk their prey?
Does my cat have a hunting instinct?
Is my cat overly curious and/or hard to train?
Has my cat ever met another animal before? How did that go?
Do I have another room to close the chinchilla off to for when the pets need a rest?
Due to the fact that chinchillas are easily stressed, it’s a good idea that you have ways of separating the animals from each other if things get a bit rowdy.
Sometimes when Kalista gets too close to Gary’s cage, even if she means no harm, Gary will start barking. As soon as we hear that, we know that Kalista is upsetting him and he needs a cooldown.
This is why we’ve put Gary in my partner’s office. It’s a room that gets used regularly by my partner and me, but it is also a room we shut when we’re not home or we’re sleeping.
This means that Gary gets all of the privacy during the night. It also means that my partner or I can close the door whenever one of the cats is troubling. Though, to be honest with our cats there really is no trouble, other than Kalista stealing Gary’s hay.
IT’S IMPORTANT YOUR CHINCHILLA IS USED TO YOU BEFORE ANYONE ELSE
It’s all in good fun to introduce your chinchilla to all of your friends, especially when they are a new addition to the family, but for your chinchilla’s sake, it’s a good idea to make sure that they are used to you before you introduce them to anyone else.
This also goes for cats, dogs and other furry creatures.
If a chinchilla gets to know you and is comfortable around you, chances are they are going to become more comfortable with their surroundings, especially if they know you’re around.
It’s important to spend time bonding with your chinchilla as they are extremely social creatures.
IT IS IMPORTANT THAT YOU INTRODUCE THE ANIMALS
Cats are extremely territorial and find it extremely important that they know everyone who is in their home.
When they are comfortable with family members or their surroundings they will headbutt or rub against the area/person which they are marking as safe.
When a cat begins to do this to your chinchilla’s cage, consider this to be a good sign as it is your cat letting you know that they think of your chinchilla as family.
It very important for you to spend time holding your chinchilla in front of your cats so that your cats begin understanding that your chinchilla is not a threat.
If both the chinchilla and the cat are calm it is okay to allow them to smell each other as long as the cat doesn’t try to open their mouth to bite the chinchilla.
If ever the chinchilla begins to bark remove the chinchilla from the situation and allow more time to pass before re-introducing your chinchilla to your cat(s).
CHINCHILLAS WHO ARE STRESSED DON’T EAT
When you get nervous or scared, what’s the first excuse you made up to get out of school? “My tummy hurts!”
Well, chinchillas have the same excuse when it comes to being stressed out and actually, sometimes so will cats.
In cases where a chinchilla is not eating it is extremely important that you remove the chinchilla from the stressful situation. Again, this is often by closing off the room to any animal who may be considered a predator.
If the behaviour continues and the chinchilla continues to starve themselves for over 24-hours it is recommended that you contact the vet immediately or think about rehoming the chinchilla.
It is extremely important that a chinchilla is always eating hay to ensure that they do not become constipated.
You can tell whether or not a chinchilla is eating by the amount of poop they are making.
If you ever notice anything weird about your chinchilla’s poop or notice any changes, it is recommended that you contact the vet.
Changes in the consistency or amount of a chinchilla’s poop can be a sign of illness.
A CHINCHILLA WILL ALWAYS BE PREY TO A CAT
Although our cats don’t bother Gary that often, and instead watch him from afar, Gary is still aware that they can eat him any day and has his guard up.
Chinchillas are fairly sensitive to their surroundings, especially because they are considered prey to many animals in their natural habitat. Due to this, it is extremely important to be aware of your chinchilla’s interactions with your cat.
The same can be said about any docile cat. While cats can be the most friendly, fun-loving beings it is in their primal instinct to hunt and kill. Because of this, it is highly recommended that you always keep an eye out on your chinchilla, whether or not they are currently in their cage.
Cats are fairly smart and can claw their way into cages, especially if the cage is not a good enough quality.
A good rule of thumb is to watch your cat’s tail to see whether or not it is wagging. If your cat’s tail is wagging, this means that your cat is not trying to hunt your chinchilla or is not trying to play with your chinchilla.
If ever your cat begins to get overly focused or their tail stops moving, it is advised that you remove your cat from the vicinity of the chinchilla.
Dependant on how intent your cat was on hunting your chinchilla, you may want to spray your cat with clean water to deter them from getting to close to the cage. This will help your cat understand that the chinchilla will be protected.
MAKE A PLACE FOR YOUR CATS TO SIT
It’s always a good idea to make sure that your cats have a comfy place to sit that is fair enough from the cage for them to see, but not touch.
It’s best that this comfy area is at the same level as the cage so the cat does not have to meerkat to see or stretch themselves onto the cage bars.
Chairs with cat beds are ideal.
It’s very important that you do not make a bed that is above the cage or allow your cat to perch above the chinchilla’s cage.
This will ensure that your cat doesn’t jump onto your chinchilla’s cage and will also make sure that your cat does not swat at your chinchilla leisurely as they would while laying in a tree.
MAKE SURE YOU HAVE A LARGE ENOUGH CAGE
It is also a good idea to get a large tall cage to ensure that your chinchilla has places to jump if they are ever scared or if a cat is taunting them.
The same can be said about getting hiding spots or places for your chinchilla to sleep. The more hiding spots and/or tiers to jump onto, the better!
The reality of having cats and a chinchilla is the fact that something could happen at any time and you have to be aware.
Thing is, that can be true of any animals meet. We were still very cautious with our betta fish and our cat, but that ended up being a great coupling.
It’s extremely important that you introduce your chinchilla to your cat(s) slowly to ensure that there is enough time for them to acclimate.
Spend a lot of time with your chinchilla and cat together, though, always make sure that your chinchilla is being held by you. If ever your chinchilla barks or makes an angry noise, stop the hangout.
If ever you notice that your chinchilla is becoming more agitated or has stopped eating or drinking make sure to reduce the amount of time your animals spend together.
If the problem persists for over 24-hours it is recommended that you contact the vet.
I have to be honest in saying that Gary has been a pretty big blessing in our lives. Our cats get along with him, we love spending time with him and he’s really got me learning so much more about rodents.
We’re just very lucky that we have two pretty calm cats, although I have to admit it took us a while to get Kalista to stop batting at Gary… and we’re still dealing with her stealing his hay.
So, pet parents, I’m curious, what pairings of pets have you had? How did they get along? Let me know in the comments below!