We’ve all seen the videos online of cats and turtles checking each other out. They are an interesting, unlikely duo. Sometimes they can be friends; other times, they want nothing to do with each other. Either way, it doesn’t hurt to introduce the species to one another.
Do turtles get along with cats? Adult turtles can get along with cats. However, baby turtles are at risk of being swallowed by cats. Due to this, we recommend not to let turtles interact with cats when they are young.
Turtles can get lonely and love having a companion with them. Many cats also enjoy a bit of company too. So, make sure you understand the risks and best ways to introduce them to each other if you are hoping to have your turtle get along with a cat.
Turtles and Cats: What to Expect
Since turtles and cats don’t naturally interact with one another, they might be cautious of each other. How they react depends on their personalities. Most cat owners know if their cat is outgoing, friendly, and curious, or prefers to hide away from people and other animals.
Every animal has a different personality, so how well a meeting between a turtle and cat goes can depend on the pairing. While turtles are just reptiles, they have personalities too. Anyone with a turtle as a pet can vouch for that. These personalities could either clash or mesh together well.
If you set a turtle in front of a cat, odds are, the cat will either be uninterested or only want to give it a whiff. The turtle will most likely retreat into its shell until the cat goes away. But, it could be a curious turtle and would smell the cat back.
But, adult turtles might harass the cats, rather than the other way around. There are plenty of videos of turtles headbutting cats as if they don’t know the sheer difference in size. Scientists believe that is courtship behavior. Turtles aren’t known for their cognitive abilities.
Do Cats Eat Turtles?
The simple answer is no. If a cat tries to eat a turtle, it’s in for a very bad time. If anyone knows what a turtle bite feels like, you know what I’m talking about. Not to mention, the shell would be very difficult for a cat to chew through on its own.
Unless the turtle is so small that the cat can swallow it whole, it won’t happen. Bigger turtles can’t be swallowed whole by cats. In fact, they are sometimes left alone by any feline. Cats are intelligent creatures. They know to be wary of the unknown. Although, since cats’ paws are sensitive, they like to poke around. Don’t be surprised if any cat will try to at least feel a turtle.
Not just anything can eat a turtle. There are more natural, common predators that eat turtles in the wild, such as skunks, raccoons, gulls, foxes, and ravens. Many more animals eat turtle eggs, but not adult turtles. So unless it’s a baby turtle with a cat, there’s not too much to worry about besides possible injuries.
Since cats have claws, it would be easy for them to harm or injure any turtle, simply by reaching into the shell. But, this might compel the turtle to clamp down with its powerful jaws. All it can take is one curious cat to cause real injury.
Can Cats Get Sick From Turtles?
To be on the safe side, it’s a good idea to assume all reptiles have salmonella. However, salmonella can also be carried by cats. It can be transferred from turtle to human and from turtle to cat. So yes, a cat can get sick from a turtle, but only if it’s from a disease like salmonella.
Here is an article that will help you understand the risks of salmonella. Some reptiles may even test negative for salmonella but actually have it. Because of this, it might be best to keep cats and turtles away from each other for health reasons.
The Signs of Salmonella are:
Protecting Turtles From Cats
It’s a good idea to have put safety measures in place if your cat and turtle live together. Be sure to:
- Have a large cage for the turtle so it can be separated from the cat
- Make sure the cage has a firm lid so they cat can’t paw at it
- Discourage the cat from jumping on top of the lid and possibly causing it harm
- Be vigilant to protect the healthy dynamic
Tips To Keep Turtles and Cats Safe From Each Other
If you own a turtle and a cat, it’s important to make sure the cat understands boundaries. This is critical since cats are more likely to do greater harm to turtles, rather than the other way around. If you are thinking about introducing a new turtle to a cat, put the turtle in a cage first.
Let the turtle get comfortable with its surroundings. Put a hidden enclosure in the tank to let it feel safe from anything. The cat might watch it for a while in the tank, but it might quickly lose interest if the turtle can’t be touched.
The lid should be strong, or the turtle will lose its sense of security. It won’t feel safe in its own home. Limit time spent together, if any, at first, and only let them interact if they both share an interest in each other.
Companion Animals for Turtles
Interestingly enough, a turtle might befriend its own food. Scientists think this might be because a turtle might feel lonely if it is in a cage alone. Most commonly, Red-Eared Sliders have been observed doing this. It might simply want a companion in its tank with it.
If introducing a cat and turtle does not go well, consider a different animal to pair with your turtle. Here are some types of turtles that coexist well with fish:
- Red-eared slider
- Western Painted turtle
- Pink Belly Sideneck Turtle
- Mud and Musk Turtles
Just remember to keep both your fish and turtles safe from the cat! The turtle might nip at the fish but won’t eat or kill it. Unfortunately, leaving fish in the tank could lead to overpopulation. And a much dirtier tank more quickly. Ultimately, it might be best to remove the fish eventually if your pet turtle refuses to eat it.
Compatible Turtles To Live With Red-Eared Turtles
The most common turtle owned in the United States is the Red-Eared Slider. As such, you might be interested in knowing what turtle species it is capable of living with.
- Painted Turtles
Fish Species To Consider Living With Turtles
- Suckermouth Catfish
- Pictus Catfish
- Neon Tetra
- Rosy Barb
Other Animals That Get Along With Cats
Surprisingly, cats have been documented to get along with prey. However, these are special cases. Most of the time, these cats were raised alongside their natural prey. These cats have grown to view their prey as family, rather than food. These animals are small animals such as rodents or birds. However, it’s always best to be safe. So make sure any small animal is thoughtfully caged and protected from any cats.
The most common animal cats get along with are dogs. Again, if they grow up together, it shouldn’t be a problem. There is a myth that cats and dogs never get along, but that’s been proven wrong time and time again. Cats and dogs can get along if they know each other well.
Cats And Tortoises
It is not recommended to put a tortoise and cat together if they don’t know each other. Cats are able to easily kill tortoises if they are younger. If they grow up together, they might simply ignore each other. But that’s better than killing.
Cats and Turtles Can Get Along With Proper Safety Measures
In short, yes, cats and turtles can get along. Although, if it’s a baby turtle, watch out. Cats are easily able to swallow the small turtle whole. Adult turtles are perfectly fine to interact with a cat if proper safety measures are in place. Ensuring a healthy dynamic is crucial.
Personalities types matter with cat and turtle pairings. They might ignore each other, be cautious, or want to check each other out. Be wary of the cat’s claws and turtle bites. Injury is always possible, no matter the pairing of animals. Safety cautions should be taken.
Cats can indeed get sick from turtles. This is most commonly from salmonella that can be transmitted. It’s safe to assume every reptile has salmonella, and limit their contact with cats for the health benefits. The signs of salmonella are clear.
While cats and turtles can get along, other pairings can be beneficial. Turtles get along with other turtle species and fish. Cats can get along with just about any species if they grow up together.