As reptiles and amphibians gain in popularity, it’s important to know how to keep all of your pets safe from harm under your roof. While there’s no need to get rid of your furry friends before bringing home your reptile, you need to understand the dangers of inter-species interactions!
Cats are born hunters, and even your lazy Garfield clone might turn into a killer when stimulated by the scurrying of a new gecko or other reptile. Geckos are easy prey, being small and enticing. Your old kitty might find a tasty morsel like a baby crested gecko completely irresistible. Most reptile enclosures are not designed to keep a determined predator out, and that’s exactly what Fluffy represents to our scaly friends.
Geckos can be especially vulnerable to cat attacks because smaller species, such as crested geckos, are easily kept in small, plastic Kritter Keepers. These are often proudly and prominently displayed on a table or shelf that a cat can easily reach by jumping. The enclosures can be knocked over, and the reptile injured in the fall. If the gecko or other small reptile escapes, they can easily become a snack for the feline felon. Even tough-looking terrariums may not keep cats out; attracted to heat lamps, cats can sleep on top of enclosures and inadvertently break through the screen top.
The best solution is to keep the species completely separate! Have a separate room, with a door, for your vulnerable reptiles as well as fish, amphibians and birds. This is the best option if you have a large collection of herps (a collective term for reptiles, amphibians, and invertebrates) as long as you remember to shut the door. If you have a solid, not screen, lid for your enclosure you should be able to keep the kitty out, just be aware that she might be constantly plotting and waiting for the chance to get to the critters at just the right moment when your back is turned!
Bites and scratches can be lethal to reptiles, as they are very slow to heal from damage, and cats in particular can transfer nasty bacterial infections to wounds. Even declawed cats can catch, kill & eat a gecko or other small reptile! Even the stress of an encounter may prove fatal to more delicate animals. Being constantly watched by a larger animal (including humans) can stress out a sensitive reptile, leading to overall poor health and unhappiness.
Fluffy might not be completely safe around reptiles, either! Larger animals such as iguanas and monitors can and will bite; large snakes can constrict a cat to death, turning the tables on the furry predator, who instead becomes the meal. Reptiles are known to carry salmonella and other microorganisms, which are generally harmless to hand-washing humans. Cats may not be so lucky and could end up with parasites or an infection from an encounter with your scaly sidekick.
Cats can also knock over heat lamps and chew cords, creating a fire hazard which is dangerous for the entire household!
If your cat does get to your reptile, it’s important to get vet help if you see any injuries – bites and scratches may be obvious, but there could also be internal bleeding or other trauma. Your vet can help diagnose internal damage as well as disinfect surface wounds and set broken bones. If you have a larger reptile that fought back, you should have your cat treated as well!
So do your reptile pets a favor, and keep them safe from your furry pals! Make sure their enclosures are secure and won’t get knocked over by a curious kitty. Prevent a cat attack by ensuring your feline friend can’t open it, as even a sturdy cage might be opened if it has a latch. Cage clips can help, but be careful about screen tops as those can be caved in by a cat just looking to get warm. Even if Fluffy doesn’t mean any harm to your reptilian pet, she could scare him and cause fatal amounts of stress. A few simple steps can keep everyone safe and happy!