Do Cats And Turtles Get Along? Best Friend Or Arch Enemy?

Oct 23, 2021

Do Cats And Turtles Get Along

We know that cats are inquisitive and like to fiddle with new things. But, on the other hand, turtles want to live life in the slow lane. So, will it be a good idea to keep them alongside cats?

We know cats can easily reach places – especially the shelves. This means that they can easily climb over a turtle tank too. They are known to catch fish from the aquariums, so will your turtles be safe in the presence of cats? 

Do Cats And Turtles Get Along?

Yes, cats and turtles can get along in harmony. But, keeping baby turtles with cats can be a call for trouble as cats are known to swallow things that are much smaller than them. As a result, cats will think of your baby turtles as food and can devour them. 

And even if your cat doesn’t have an appetite for turtles, they are curious pets and will try to play with baby turtles – causing unintentional harm with their sharp claws. Infant turtles do not have hard shells like adults, so your cat’s sharp paws can injure them.

However, adult turtles have been found doing well in the presence of cats. Well, we are talking about domesticated cats, not felines. 

There are several clips of cats and turtles living and eating together on the internet. What’s surprising is that the turtles are the ones disturbing the napping cats. 

So, in most cases, your cats will gaze into a turtle tank for hours and mean no harm to them. However, some cats with territorial instincts might chase and attack turtles. 

There are some important cues that you should know or consider before keeping cats and turtles together.

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The Cat’s And Turtle’s Personalities Should Match.

There are instances when one pet is calm, and the other one is aggressive. This can happen between turtles and cats too.

A territorial cat can get aggressive towards a turtle and can hurt the reptile if the latter encroaches on a cat’s territory. So, you need to observe your cat’s personality before bringing a turtle into your home. 

However, some cats are intimidated by the turtle’s presence and will take a back seat. In this case, it is okay to say that your cat gets along with your turtle. 

Snapping turtles are aggressive, often known to snuck behind your cat and bite them. Also, their bite force is strong enough to inflict severe injuries to your cats. So, you also need to know the type of turtle you are about to keep with cats. 

Remember that it isn’t a good idea to keep two pets with aggressive personalities. And, it is better to keep a feisty turtle with a docile cat than an aggressive cat with a complacent turtle. 

Size Matters When Keeping These Two Pets Together.

Turtles above 7 inches will be a lot safer to be kept with cats. On the other hand, baby turtles are only a couple of inches in length, which puts them in danger from your cats. In addition, cats seldom attack adult turtles that are bigger in size. This is why it isn’t recommended to keep baby turtles with cats. 

So, consider your turtle’s maximum size potential at different life stages. This way, you do not have to wait for decades to let your turtles roam outside the enclosure. 

Pet Owners Can Foster Compatibility Among These Two.

Cats understand human signs and emotions. Just like dogs, they know when you are angry or happy. So, you need to use this ability to let the cat know that the turtle will be a part of the family.

You need to let them know that the turtle is here to stay. I have seen pet owners putting food side by side for both these pets. Doing this will condition them to act peacefully to get treats from you.

However, suppose you find your turtle being harassed by the cat. In that case, you need to use an assertive voice which signals that he/she is in trouble for being aggressive towards the turtle. This can also stop occasional fight breakouts between these two pets. 

Let Them Sort It Out On Their Own.

There’s a reason why adult turtles fare well alongside cats. When you first introduce a turtle to your cat, your cat is bound to poke or harass your turtle. In return, your turtle will snap back and try to bite your cat. 

In most cases, this sudden attack from the turtle can startle cats, and yes, cats get frightened quickly. So, from now on, your cat will not meddle in your turtle’s business. Even if the turtle comes into the cat’s territory, the cat will move away from the turtle.

Clip Your Cat’s Nails

Your cat’s playful, or you might say curious nature, can harm your turtle. Although turtles have hard shells, cats have sharp claws too. Though a cat’s sharp claws might not be enough to crack a turtle shell, it sure can inflict injuries that can lead to further complexations like an infection – and ultimately shell rot.

Will My Cat Eat My Pet Turtle?

Cats will only eat pet turtles, especially baby turtles if they are much smaller than them in size. But, even the tiniest of turtles have significant surface area due to their wider shells. Thus, cats find it harder to swallow baby turtles in a single gulp.

Can Cats Get Sick From Turtles?

Turtles carry salmonella bacteria, which can quickly spread in cats, dogs, and even humans too. When a cat is in contact with a turtle or utensils previously used by a turtle, salmonella transmission chances are high. A cat suffering from salmonella will show signs like vomiting, diarrhea, fever, loss of appetite, and decreased activity level. 

Not only cats but also humans are highly susceptible to salmonella bacteria. This bacteria is asymptomatic in turtles, meaning they carry these bacteria without showing any signs or symptoms. So, even if you have a healthy turtle, it still can be a carrier of salmonella and other zoonotic pathogens. 

If you have kids below the age of five, there’s a high chance that your children could be prone to salmonella. Research has shown that susceptibility to salmonellosis for children under 5 years is 5 times greater than for adults. 

To prevent salmonella, you need to take necessary precautions. First and foremost, turtle tank hygiene should be maintained. Clean your turtle tanks regularly and change the water once every 14 days. 

Cats like to smell and toy with everything that they can lay their claws on. If they happen to eat from the same container that your turtle eats in, chances of transmitting salmonella are high. Maintain separate eating vessels for both these pets. 

How To Make Cats Get Along With Turtles?

It is easy to make cats get along with turtles if both these pets, especially cats, have been reared together since they were small. Cats take time to habituate to new things, so time is the only essence here. Have both these pets see and feel each other’s presence in your supervision. This will help calm both pets’ anxieties when you are acting as a mediator.

For a new turtle, it’s best to put it inside an enclosure where your cat can’t attack it. Keep it inside its tank or cage for a week or two. This will help both pets to get acquainted with each other’s presence in the room. 

Take the turtle outside its enclosure after you feel that your cat is calm with the turtle around. Let it roam within the room under your supervision. Cats often get curious and will approach your turtle with caution. Turtles will retaliate if they sense danger. So, your turtle might hiss and attempt to bite the cat. 

Cats will then get this message loud and clear and will leave your turtle to its own devices. Put the turtle back inside the cage, and repeat it every day. 

Eventually, both these pets will get accustomed to each other’s presence.

There are clips of cats and turtles relaxing together. Once your cat notices that the turtle poses no harm, and vice-versa, things will get easier for them to get along. 

Why Is Your Turtle Attacking/Headbutting Your Cats? There’s A Reason Why.

Headbutting is normal in turtles, especially among males. Usually, male turtles headbutt other animals to show their dominance and climb up the pecking order. If your cat has been lounging in your turtle’s territory, and your turtle happens to dislike it – your cat might be a recipient of a headbutt. 

There’s another reason behind turtles headbutting cats. As peculiar as it may sound, male turtles like to headbutt when they have an urge to mate with the perceived mate. So, in this case, the cat is the prospect in your turtle’s eyes. Although it sounds absurd, a male turtle headbutting cat is a mating ritual for the turtle.

Here’s a clip of a turtle headbutting a cat.

How To Make A Turtle Tank Cat-Proof?

Besides your pet cat, there could be some ferals in the neighborhood that might want to hurt your turtle. Here’s how you can protect your turtle from them:

Put up a screen over the openings of a turtle enclosure. You can use cloth or mesh to make screens. This will prevent cats from entering but provide ample airflow into the enclosure as well. 

Another way to prevent cats from climbing over the tank is by wrapping the opening with packing tapes turned upside down. Cats do not like to step on sticky things, so they will stay away from the tank openings. But, you should leave little gaps to let air and light enter inside the tank.

Do Cats Eat Baby Turtles?

Although baby turtles don’t fall under a cat’s diet regime, they can kill and eat baby turtles. However, baby turtle shells can make it hard even for natural hunters like cats to swallow them whole. 

As for adult turtles above 7 inches, cats will tread carefully and not bother preying on them. 

Do Cats Eat Turtle Eggs?

Yes, cats can eat turtle eggs. They are natural-born hunters and will scavenge turtle eggs if they smell them in their vicinity. So, you need to put screens over your turtle’s enclosure to protect your eggs during incubation. Otherwise, turtle eggs can become a quick snack for your cats.

Do Cats Like Turtles?

Baby turtles can become a cat’s prey, but adult turtles will most likely get along with cats around. Both cats and turtles are solitary animals. So, both these pets will be minding their own businesses – i.e., a turtle headbutting things and cats licking their paws. 

Are Cats Afraid Of Turtles?

As the phrase goes, “curiosity killed the cat,” cats are curious about what goes around them. So, the first sight of a turtle could entice curiosity, and the cat might poke around the turtle’s shell. And if the turtle makes a sudden movement like snapping turtles do, which is trying to bite the offenders – your cat will definitely be afraid of turtles then onwards. 

Do Kittens And Turtles Get Along?

Yes, kittens and turtles are more compatible with each other than adult cats and turtles. Unlike cats, kittens will not try to eat or intimidate turtles. Eventually, both will grow accustomed to each other’s presence. 

Ferals And Turtles

Pet cats, sooner or later, will get along with turtles, but it’s the feral cats that you should be alarmed about. Feral cats are voracious and have the habit of killing their prey to satisfy their hunger. This is why you need to put screens over your turtle’s enclosure if feral cats often visit your house.

Do Land Turtles And Cats Get Along?

Land turtles, like box turtles and tortoises, get along with cats easily. They can even enjoy certain kinds of meals together. Box turtles have dome-shaped carapaces and can be anywhere from 5 to 7 inches long. So, it will be challenging for cats to try eating your box turtle. But slowly but surely, your cat will give up on the idea of harassing your turtle and will eventually get along with the reptile.

FAQ’S

Do Cats And Red-Eared Slider Turtles Get Along?

Red-eared sliders are semi-aquatic turtles who need to spend a fair amount of time in water and only come on land for basking. So, it is not an everyday situation that your red-eared slider encounters cats. But if your turtle is over 7 inches in length, your cats will mostly leave your turtles in peace. 

However, if you are housing baby red-eared sliders along with cats, you need to be extra careful and put up mesh screens to protect your turtles. Cats have strong predatory instincts and will pounce upon anything smaller than them and show movement.

Do Cats And Snapping Turtles Get Along?

Snapping turtles grow much faster than other types of turtles. This is good news for you if you are planning to keep them together with cats. Cats will hesitate to toy with bigger turtles, and snapping turtles are some of the largest aquatic turtles. 

Also, snapping turtles are notorious for biting every incoming offender. So if your cat decides to pester a snapping turtle, the feline will definitely learn its lesson.

Final Words On Do Cats And Turtles Get Along

As much as I’d like to be straightforward, the answer to this question is really subjective. It depends on factors like how long they have been raised together, their personalities, size, etc. 

If your turtle is over 7 inches long, he must be safe from house cats for most parts. However, the same cannot be said for ferals who have strong attacking prowess.

If you plan to raise two together, you must be patient with them and understand that they are two entirely different species. Expose them to each other’s presence under supervision until they get comfortable with each other.

Relevant Readings:

Are Reptile UV Lights Safe For Humans? Do They Cause Cancer?

Can Turtles Eat Grapes? Are They Healthy?

Can Turtles Feel Their Shell? Do Turtles Shell Have Nerves?

rohit gurung author at urbanfishkeeping

About Rohit Gurung

My never-ending love and fascination with Aquascaping started when I received a red-eared turtle for my 10th birthday.

Apart from researching and writing, I spend hours gazing at my 3 turtles. And yeah, I bask alongside them too.