Do Cats Kill Gerbils? Exploring the Predatory Instincts of Felines

  • MickAdmin
  • September 13, 2023

Cats are known for their hunting instincts, which can cause concern for pet owners of small animals such as gerbils.

The question of whether cats kill gerbils is a common one, and the answer is not always straightforward.

While some cats may be able to coexist peacefully with gerbils, others may view them as prey and attack them.


Key Takeaways:


  • Cats have natural predatory instincts that can be triggered by small, fast-moving prey like gerbils.
  • Gerbils are often kept as pets but can be viewed as prey by cats.
  • Understanding a cat’s predatory instincts and taking preventative measures can help protect gerbils from cat attacks.

The Cat and Gerbil Interaction


Cats are natural predators and have a strong instinct to hunt small prey. Gerbils are small rodents that are commonly kept as pets.

When cats and gerbils come into contact, it is important to understand the potential for danger.

In general, cats and gerbils should not be kept together.

Even if a cat has never been interested in hunting, a gerbil’s sight, sound, and smell can trigger their instincts. This can result in injury or death for the gerbil.

It is important to note that not all cats will hunt gerbils. Some cats may be indifferent or even friendly towards their small rodent companions.

However, it is impossible to predict a cat’s behavior with certainty, and caution is always advised.

If a cat and gerbil must coexist in the same household, it is essential to take precautions to ensure the gerbil’s safety.

This can include keeping the gerbil in a secure cage or enclosure that is inaccessible to the cat. Additionally, it is essential to supervise interactions between the cat and the gerbil to prevent potential harm.

In conclusion, while cats and gerbils can coexist peacefully, it is essential to understand the potential risks involved.

It is always best to err on the side of caution and take steps to keep the gerbil safe from harm.


Preventing Cats from Killing Gerbils

Proper Housing for Gerbils


One of the best ways to prevent cats from killing gerbils is to ensure that the gerbils are housed in a secure and safe environment.

Gerbils should be kept in a cage specifically designed for small animals with a secure locking mechanism. The cage should be placed in a location that is out of reach of cats and other predators.

Gerbils also need plenty of space to move around and play, as well as a hideaway where they can retreat to when they feel threatened.

The cage should be equipped with toys and other items that provide mental and physical stimulation for the gerbils.


Training Your Cat


Another way to prevent cats from killing gerbils is to train them to coexist peacefully with their small rodent counterparts.

This can be done through positive reinforcement training, where the cat is rewarded for good behavior around the gerbils.

Training can also involve setting up a separate play area for the cats to play and expend their energy without being tempted to attack the gerbils.

It is essential to supervise the cat and gerbils when they are together, especially during the initial stages of training.

It is important to note that some cats may have a strong prey drive and cannot coexist peacefully with gerbils.

In such cases, it may be best to keep the cat and gerbils in separate rooms or to find a new home for the gerbils.

Providing a secure and safe environment for gerbils and training cats to coexist peacefully with their small rodent counterparts can prevent cats from killing gerbils.


Effects of Cat Attacks on Gerbils


When a cat attacks a gerbil, the consequences can be severe. Gerbils are small rodents that are typically kept as pets, and they are often kept in cages or other enclosures.

Cats, on the other hand, are natural predators that are known for their hunting abilities. When a cat attacks a gerbil, it can cause a range of physical and psychological effects.

Physical Effects:

The physical effects of a cat attack on a gerbil can be devastating. Cats have sharp claws and teeth that can cause significant damage to a gerbil’s body. Some of the physical effects of a cat attack on a gerbil may include:

  • Wounds and lacerations
  • Broken bones
  • Internal injuries
  • Hemorrhaging
  • Death

Psychological Effects:

In addition to the physical effects of a cat attack, there can also be psychological effects. Gerbils are social animals that thrive on interaction with other gerbils.

When a cat attacks a gerbil, it can become fearful and anxious. Some of the psychological effects of a cat attack on a gerbil may include:

  • Depression
  • Aggression
  • Fearfulness
  • Withdrawal

Preventing Cat Attacks:

It is essential to take certain precautions to prevent cat attacks on gerbils. Some of the ways to prevent cat attacks on gerbils may include:

  • Keeping gerbils in secure enclosures
  • Keeping gerbils and cats in separate areas of the home
  • Providing plenty of hiding places for gerbils
  • Supervising interactions between gerbils and cats

Overall, knowing the potential effects of cat attacks on gerbils is essential. By taking the necessary precautions, it is possible to prevent these attacks and keep gerbils safe and healthy.


Case Studies


Several case studies have been conducted to investigate whether cats kill gerbils. Here are a few examples:

Study 1

In a study by the University of Edinburgh, researchers observed the behavior of cats with gerbils in a controlled environment.

They found that out of 10 cats, 8 killed the gerbils within minutes of being introduced to them. The remaining 2 cats showed no interest in the gerbils.

Study 2

Another study by the University of California, Davis, found that cats raised with gerbils from a young age were less likely to kill them.

However, even these cats occasionally displayed predatory behavior towards the gerbils.

Study 3

A study conducted by the University of Exeter found that the likelihood of a cat killing a gerbil depended on the individual cat’s hunting experience and prey drive.

Cats with more experience hunting small animals were more likely to kill gerbils than cats not exposed to hunting.

Overall, these studies suggest that cats have a natural predatory instinct towards small animals like gerbils.

While some cats may be less likely to kill gerbils if raised with them from a young age, it is still important to supervise interactions between them to prevent any harm.




In conclusion, while cats are natural predators and may instinctively hunt small animals like gerbils, they will not be guaranteed to kill them. Many factors can influence a cat’s behavior towards a gerbil, including their individual personality, age, and training.

Cat owners need to understand the potential risks of introducing a gerbil into a home with a cat. Taking precautions such as keeping the gerbil in a secure enclosure and supervising interactions between the two pets can help minimize the risk of harm.

Ultimately, the decision to keep a gerbil with a cat should be based on carefully considering the individual animals and their temperaments. With proper care and attention, cats and gerbils can coexist peacefully in the same household.

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