If you already have pets and you’re thinking of adding a guinea pig to your family, there’s lots to consider. You want to give your guinea pig a happy and loving home, but you’re unsure whether it’s safe to keep a guinea pig when there are cats or dogs around.
So, can guinea pigs live with cats and dogs?
Yes, guinea pigs can live in a home with cats and dogs. However, the safest option is to keep your guinea pig separate from cats and dogs. You’ll also need to take extra-special care to ensure that your guinea pig has a safe and secure cage, and that any interaction between your pets is closely supervised.
Do Cats and Guinea Pigs Get Along?
Before we answer this question, let’s get an important fact out of the way first: cats are predators, guinea pigs are prey.
That’s an important distinction to remember before you think about introducing your guinea pig to your cats. However, it doesn’t mean that cats and guinea pigs can’t get along.
In reality, it all comes down to the two animals in question.
- First, there’s your guinea pig, who will need a secure cage and a safe space where he can escape the watchful gaze of your cat at all times. We’ll go into more detail below about how to pet-proof your guinea pig cage.
- Second, there’s your cat. And it’s not always easy to predict how your kitty will react.
Will Cats Harm Guinea Pigs?
Do cats like guinea pigs? Will my cat try to eat my guinea pig? It’s difficult to provide definitive answers to these questions.
The most important thing to remember is that your cat may attack your guinea pig at any time. The vocalizations and fast movements your guinea pig makes, especially running away, may trigger your cat’s predatory instincts.
Don’t blame your cat for this — it’s simply an instinctive response. And if it occurs, any cat is capable of inflicting serious injury on your guinea pig.
However, this doesn’t mean that all cats are aggressive towards guinea pigs. In fact, some cats will be quite curious about the new little furball you’ve welcomed into your home. They may stare at your cavy intently and be keen to investigate this strange new arrival further. But even a friendly and well-meaning cat can injure your guinea pig simply by being inquisitive, so the safest option is to keep the two animals apart.
Interestingly, some owners report their cats being scared of guinea pigs — you’ll even find a few videos of this on YouTube. When presented with a new and unusual creature, especially one that’s out of its cage, some cats will react with fear.
Are Guinea Pigs Scared of Cats?
As a general rule, yes. Guinea pigs are small animals that can fall prey to plenty of larger predators, so it’s only natural for your cavy to be nervous of your kitty.
There’s also the fact that your cat is something completely foreign in the eyes of your guinea pig. They look, smell and act differently to what your cavy is used to.
Even a cat that is just curious or trying to say hello can be downright terrifying to your guinea pig, so monitor your furry friend closely for any signs of distress. These signs can include hiding, freezing and head tossing.
Cats and Guinea Pigs: The Final Word
If you already own a cat, you can welcome a guinea pig into your family — and vice versa.
It’s also possible in some cases that cats and guinea pigs will get along.
However, even if your cat and guinea pig play happily together 99% of the time, all it takes is one attack or one unexpected reaction from your cat to cause serious injury. As a result, the safest thing you can do is keep the two animals apart.
If you are intent on introducing your cat to your guinea pig, exercise extreme caution. Take it slow, monitor all interaction closely, and stop immediately if your cavy becomes too frightened or distressed.
Do Dogs and Guinea Pigs Get Along?
OK, so cats and guinea pigs can be a risky proposition. But what about dogs? Do dogs like guinea pigs?
Unfortunately, dogs and guinea pigs also aren’t what you’d call a match made in heaven.
Once again, there’s a risk that your dog will see a guinea pig as prey. This is particularly true of dogs bred to hunt or flush out prey, such as many terrier and retriever breeds. These dogs retain a particularly strong prey drive and are likely to want to chase (and potentially kill) your cavy.
You can also expect your guinea pig to be quite nervous and fearful of dogs. After all, dogs are much bigger, they look and smell strange (as far as your guinea pig is concerned) and behave in unexpected ways.
Can Guinea Pigs and Dogs Be Friends?
Despite the risks involved, it is actually possible for guinea pigs and dogs to get along. However, ensuring a safe relationship between your pets will require a whole lot of planning and care.
These tips can help guinea pigs and dogs coexist happily:
- Start young. The best time to introduce your two pets is while your dog is a puppy. During their critical socialization period, up to about 16 weeks of age, puppies are much more open to new experiences and situations. Introducing your puppy to your guinea pig now will make your canine much more likely to accept your cavy as a friend.
- Take it slow. Don’t force your guinea pig and your puppy into situations that one or neither of them is comfortable with. Give each of them time to adapt to the other, with your guinea pig in their cage and your dog on a leash.
- Use positive reinforcement. Reward your dog for being calm and relaxed around your guinea pig. Never reprimand or punish them if they seem anxious, tense or aggressive.
- Supervise, supervise, supervise. Never leave a guinea pig and a dog unattended. Make sure to watch their interactions as closely as possible.
Dogs and Guinea Pigs: The Final Word
Just like with cats and guinea pigs, the safest approach is to keep your dog and your guinea pig separate. Even if your dog is friendly towards your cavy, all it takes is one unexpected response or an unfortunate accident for your guinea pig to be seriously injured or killed.
If you’ve got your heart set on letting your dog and your guinea pig interact, do so with extreme caution. Be careful when introducing your two pets and monitor their interactions closely at all times.
How Do You Pet-Proof a Guinea Pig Cage?
If you want to get a guinea pig, it’s essential that you set up a safe and secure cage for your new pet. But how can you make sure a cage will keep your cavy safe from the prying eyes, mouths and paws of curious cats and dogs? Remember the following tips:
- Put a roof on it. This is an obvious tip but one worth repeating. The cage you keep your guinea pig in will need a lid on it so that your cat or dog can’t access your cavy.
- Choose a sturdy cage. Make sure your guinea pig’s cage is strong, durable and can’t be accidentally opened by a curious paw. Take care to construct it as per the manufacturer’s instructions so that there are no gaps or weak spots.
- Check the bar width. Measure the width between the bars to make sure a curious cat or dog won’t be able to stick a paw inside and harass your guinea pig.
- Give them a hiding place. Every guinea pig needs a sheltered, enclosed area where they can retreat to when they’re feeling threatened or just need some quiet time. Simply being able to see or smell a cat or dog could cause your cavy’s stress levels to rise, so give them lots of hiding spaces they can use when they need to feel safe.
- Letting your guinea pig out. When you let your guinea pig out of the cage to play and explore, make sure any cats and dogs are locked out of the room.
Finally, remember to keep your guinea pig indoors. It’s also a good idea to keep your guinea pig’s cage in a room of the house that your dog and cat can only access when you allow them to. Being under the watchful eye of a cat or dog at all hours of the day can be extremely stressful for your cavy, so it’s important they have their own space where they feel completely comfortable.
At the same time, you don’t want the cage to be in a completely isolated area. Remember, your guinea pig is part of the family, so you’ll need your furry friend to have plenty of time to interact and bond with you.
If you’ve already got a cat or dog, there’s no reason why you can’t also welcome a guinea pig into your family. However, you’ll need to take care to create a safe and secure cage environment for your cavy, and the safest option is to keep your guinea pig separate from cats and dogs at all times.