Cats are natural hunters. With incredible eyesight and razor-sharp focus cats will wait patiently for their prey, or stalk them with dauntless devotion. This is great news for rodent-ridden residences, whose inhabitants want their cats to be good “mousers;” but those who own a beautiful array of exotic tropical fish might find this fact a little disconcerting. The brightly colored scales and rhythmically waving fins might prove to be too much temptation for a feline to handle. How should someone juggle the two pets? Here are some helpful tips from pet owners who have managed to keep their kitties on the straight and narrow, while maintaining a secure habitat for the fish in their aquariums.
Tips On Keeping Your Cat Away From the Fish
- Choose the right kind of aquarium. Many a woeful fish owner has found their aquariums overturned, with no fish to be seen and a very guilty looking feline. Fish bowls or tanks that have between 0.5-2.5 gallons of water in the tank are far too light to be safe. A motivated cat (especially a Maine Coon or larger breed) would have little difficulty in knocking the bowl over to get at the prize. A deep, 8-15 gallon tank of water is the most secure option.
*NOTE: It is also important to consider your cat’s personality. A lazy Persian might not have any interest in fiddling with a small 3-gallon tank just to get at a few measly morsels, while an active Siamese cat might stop at nothing to get to the fish!
- Be strategic with the aquarium’s placement. Cats are no strangers to heights, and wouldn’t have a second thought about jumping up a tall shelf to observe an aquarium. If you don’t want your cat anywhere near the tank, make sure there is no space next to it where the feline could perch. Or, to avoid any headache, put the aquarium in a room the cat is not allowed in (such as an office or bedroom.)
- Find a suitable tank cover. Most aquariums are sealed with mesh tops to keep harmful objects from falling into the tank and damaging its inhabitants. However, kitty claws have been known to tear through sturdier material than light screens, so your aquarium will need a more substantial seal. Most people use a heavy plastic lid that completely covers the fish bowl, or a glass top so that cat will not stand a chance at pawing for the fish.
- Use deterrents sprays. If the cat just won’t be distracted from his interest in the fish tank, spray a cloth with a cat deterrent spray, and wipe around the tank and the surrounding surfaces. What might smell like fresh citrus to you may disgust your cat and motivate him to maintain distance.
- Train and distract. Another way to keep your cat away from the live sushi is to use different training methods. You could clicker train the cat to stay away from the bowl (clicking whenever he jumps down, or moves away from it, and offering a treat). Or you could use an ultrasonic sound device to emit unpleasant beeping noises whenever your cat goes too close to the tank. Some owners even keep a small spray bottle of water to give the cat a splash when he approaches the fish bowl. If these training methods fail, you could offer new toys and games as an exchange whenever your cat attempts to reach for the aquarium. He might prefer chasing a toy that he can tackle and catch!