Many animal lovers have different types of pets, but there are inherent risks if you own small pets like hamsters, rats, guinea pigs and rabbits, along with larger predatory animals like cats and dogs.
I literally have hundreds of pet care articles online and I’ve heard so many sad stories from owners of small animals who have been fatally injured by a cat or dog. No matter how sweet or well-trained your cat or dog may be, accidents do occur and the small pet often ends up on the losing end of the equation when the larger animal’s predatory instincts kick in.
I currently own several small animals and birds, in addition to 6 dogs and 11 cats. I’ve developed a few tricks and strategies to ensure their safety.
Strategies for Keeping Small Pets Safe from Cats and Dogs
Most gerbils, mice, hamsters, rats, guinea pigs and rabbits are injured when their cage is knocked over or knocked off a table, desk or dresser. The pet is often injured in the fall, and once the cage is compromised, they’re often attacked or even killed by the cat or dog.
The key to keeping your small pets safe involves two basic strategies: limiting contact between “predator and prey” and securing the small animal’s cage so it’s less apt to be compromised.
The best location for a small animal’s cage is a bedroom, office or another room that can be easily closed off to cats and dogs. This will result in very limited contact between the pets, making a fatal accident much less likely to occur. Don’t place your hamster’s cage on a tall dresser, assuming that your cat or dog can’t reach it. Pets can (and will) get very creative and extremely determined when their instinctual predatory drive is activated.
Unfortunately, accidents do happen. Doors may be accidentally left open. Cats can sneak undetected through an open door. Some dogs and cats can even open doors.
So in addition to keeping your small pet in a secure room, you’ll need to take a few additional measures to ensure your furry friend remains safe if they’re accidentally left alone with a dog or cat.
Try the following:
Place cat alarms on the desk, dresser or table where the cage is located. This will startle many cats, deterring them for a minute or two. This gives you a bit of extra time to react. The alarms will also serve to alert you to the potentially dangerous situation if you’re within earshot.
Secure the top portion of the cage to the bottom portion of the cage. Many cages have two parts — a top and a bottom — that are usually attached with a series of clips. These will not hold up if the cage falls onto the floor. There’s a chance your pet may be injured in the fall, but if the cage maintains its integrity, he will not sustain deadly bite wounds, internal injuries or worse due to an attack involving a larger pet.
You must reinforce the connection between the portions of the cage. The most effective way to achieve this is to screw holes every few inches along the top of each “wall” of the bottom part of the cage. Run a length of sturdy craft wire or re-usable zip ties through each hole and wrap it around the horizontal bar that runs along the bottom edge of the top part of the cage.
Finally, secure the cage in place to reduce the chances that it will fall off the table, desk or dresser and onto the floor. I secure my cages using hooks that are mounted on the wall, at a level that’s a few feet higher than the cage. I run three or four wires from the cage corners to the hooks. This makes it virtually impossible to knock the cage onto the floor. (In fact, we accidentally moved the desk out from under the cage and it hung in place!)
There are no guarantees when it comes to living in a household with “predators” and “prey” animals. When it comes down to it, a cat will act like a cat and that involves “hunting” small animals. But with common sense and a few extra precautions, you can ensure the safety of your small animals.
For additional pet care tips, check out PetLvr’s articles on caring for rodents and other small animals.
Photo Source: Rob Owen-Wahl on Sxc.hu