Should you own a gerbil or hamster if you have cats?

United States
November 29, 2007 10:08am CST
We've already got three cats, but my daughter is asking for more pets. And, I'm just not ready to get her any more cats right now. The cat fights have already broken out. I think she really wants a hamster or gerbil. She saw one on a kids show and can't stop talking about them. When I was a kid, we had a hamster named Gretel. She was adorable. Of course we didn't have cats at the time either. Good thing. I'm not sure if it's such a good idea to have a hamster or gerbil when you have cats. What do you think? Is there a way to keep such a pet safe around predatory cats? Are hamsters preferrable to gerbils or vice versa. What's your opinion?
3 people like this
8 responses
@sedel1027 (17868)
• United States
29 Nov 07
We have 2 lovebirds and 2 cats. They get along but if we let the bird out we put the cats in a bedroom. You would have to do the same thing with a hamster or gerbil. Personally, I do not think hamsters or gerbils are good pets at all. They really do not like being bothered or picked up, they tend to get mean after a few months of owning them because people want to play with them. Plus the are nocturnal so they may keep your daughter up at night if you keep the hamster or gerbil in her room.
1 person likes this
• United States
2 Dec 07
Our hamster was pretty much the same way. She was not too friendly. Our little kitten puts up with a lot of handling from the kid, and doesn't seem to mind at all. A hamster would not be so generous. Thanks for your advice.
@wolfie34 (26881)
• United Kingdom
30 Nov 07
Personally I wouldn't. I used have frogs and although obviously I kept them separately, our youngest kept jumping up and jumping on top of the frog tank, it obviously distressed the frogs and she was totally transfixed and trying to paw the tank. It's their instinct and I saved the frogs from the cats. It's too much of a temptation to cats who's natural instinct is to kill rodents, our cats were predatory and were always bringing mice and birds in and frogs too. So no if you have cats, rodents are a big NO NO!
• United States
2 Dec 07
That's probably how things will work out. All three of my cats, regardless of age, are hunters and hunt lizards that happen to come into the house. The kitten is the most notorious for killing and eating lizards, as she used to be an outdoor cat. I guess a poor hamster wouldn't have a chance. That kitten would try to get a paw into her cage night and day. Poor thing. Thanks for the advice. Most certaily will consider.
• United States
30 Nov 07
Yes it would be ok. We have two hamsters, a guniue pig, a hermit crab, and a weiner dog..LOL We also have three outside cats. I just have to put my dog outside or in a bedroom when they get the critters out. But it is enough time to play with them and my dog can always use some fresh air.
• United States
2 Dec 07
That's really good advice. One day I'll probably live on a farm, and have lots of critters running around all over the place. Now where can I put the chickens? LOL!
• United States
30 Nov 07
I am very much against hamsters and gerbils, I prefer rats. But if you have to get one hamsters make better kids pets. Gerbils don't really like to be held (well most hamsters don't either, but gerbils more so). Gerbils also remember if they get dropped and can bite the person that did it. They seem to hold a lifelong grudge. There is no reason not to get a little pet even though you have cats. Just watch how your cats react (they may not care, they may think it is a new friend, or they may want a snack). Make sure you buy a cage that the critter isn't going to get out of and go from there. I still recommend a pair of rats! They are intelligent, fun to play with, and love people. They also usually make casual type friends with most cats.
• United States
30 Nov 07
Keep the hamster in the cage, and it should be just fine with the cats. I am ok with hamsters, but I am not a huge fan of gerbils but this is just becuase I did a research project at one point with gerbils and hope to never see one again.
@ElicBxn (60081)
• United States
30 Nov 07
My roomie had a bottle baby kitty named Tia. she also used to keep gerbils or hamsters. Once a hamster got o ut and Tia caught it & dropped it at her feet (still alive.) When she didn't notice it (remember she doesn't see too good) and the rodent ran away, she caught it again & dropped it ON her feet. That hamster would've been long gone if the cat hadn't noticed it. she doesn't have any now - for one thing, I don't much care for them, but also we have so many smart cats now that one would get it out and kill it - probably Rygel. He is smart, persistant and determined.
• United States
29 Nov 07
Well, I wouldn't let them play together, that's for certain. Also, both are known for getting out of their cages so, if your daughter forgets to put the lid on the cage correctly (and she probably will at some point, being a kid), the rodent will likely become lunch for one of the cats. I'd really only be worried about the hamster or gerbil when it out of the cage. I doubt the cats, unless they have a strong prey-drive, wil bother it when it is in the cage. I'm not sure which would make a better pet, but try to get one that has been hand-raised so that it is less likely to be nippy when it's handled.
• United States
29 Nov 07
You'd need to keep the animals apart from each other. Hamsters look really close to mice and a cat is not going to know the difference. Gerbils are slightly bigger, but I've seen a stray cat outside bring down a full grown rabbit with one bite. Any small animal such as birds, fish, rabbits, guinea pigs, hamsters, gerbils, mice or certain lizards should be kept apart from both cats and dogs who can and will confuse them for a meal.