Can A Ferret Kill A Cat? (An Owner’s Guide)


You may think your pet ferret is entirely harmless, and maybe you’re right. Ferrets are, after all, sociable, friendly creatures who seem to get along with everyone. 

Whether you specifically own a ferret-cat combination or wonder if a ferret’s carnivorous nature could one day drive it to see a cat as food, this article is for you. 

The truth is yes; a ferret can likely kill a cat if it really wanted to. This is especially true if the ferret has been used for hunting mice, is starving, or has a nasty temper. The outcome of the fight that will ensue relies heavily on the ferret’s size and aggression.

Here’s the complete owner’s guide to whether a ferret can kill a cat.

Brown and white ferret outside

Ferret Fighting Style vs. Cat Fighting Style

Ferrets, despite their cuteness, don’t forget and always hold a grudge. If they are attacked or injured, they will fight for their lives no matter the consequences. 

In the case of cats, most fights amount to some loud hissing and perhaps a few scratches.

Even if a cat did bite a ferret, it probably wouldn’t be able to kill it with a single bite. And once the cat lets go, the ferret will retaliate with every ounce of force in its body. 

Due to ferrets’ strong survival instincts, they may have a significant advantage over cats who have been domesticated for much longer and do not react as viciously to being threatened. 

Ferrets are also much smaller than cats and may try to make up for this discrepancy in sheer violence, which could quickly leave a cat injured or dead. 

Both cats and ferrets are predators, although cats may underestimate ferrets due to their size and generally friendly demeanor. However, should a cat get on the wrong side of a ferret, it will quickly realize the consequences. 

Ferrets are Born Hunters

Ferrets were domesticated from the European Polecat and share the DNA of other animals like otters, skunks, and wolverines. 

They were domesticated by farmers to rid grain and food stores of rats and mice and thus developed a natural hunting instinct that cats share. 

The only difference is cats have been domesticated for much longer than ferrets and retain less of their killer instinct.

This could be a serious disadvantage to the cat should a fight break out. 

Cats and Ferrets are Both Carnivores

Another influential aspect in the odds of ferret vs. cat is their dietary habits. Both animals are carnivores that rely primarily on meat and protein-rich diets to survive. 

Both have pointed teeth, and even though a ferret only weighs about two pounds, they have been known to go up against rats, mice, rabbits, snakes, and birds, making cats another easy form of prey to add to the list. 

This love for meat and their skills as hunters could place them at an advantage over a cat if a fight were to break out. 

Are Ferrets Smarter Than Cats?

Winning a fight isn’t just about being fast or strong; it’s about being smart. Unfortunately for cats, ferrets are proven to be more intelligent when it comes to problem-solving than both dogs and cats [Source].

Most ferret owners will tell you, if their pet wants to go somewhere or get something, it will find a way to do it. 

This difference in intelligence could prove yet another advantage for a ferret in a fight with a cat. 

Are Cats Afraid of Ferrets or Vice Versa?

There is one case in which a cat may kill a ferret without suffering any damage: if the cat is feral.

Feral cats have heightened predatory instincts that could help them react quickly and aggressively enough to swing the fight in their favor. 

However, since cats and ferrets are not natural enemies, they usually have very little reason to be afraid of each other. Many domestic ferrets and cats get along perfectly well, even sharing a bed on days they feel particularly friendly. 

Do Cats Get Along With Ferrets?

If you want to house a ferret and a cat together, they should be slowly and carefully introduced. 

If your cat remains calm, your ferret will, too, and the meeting should go on without any problems or aggression. 

Kittens who grow up with ferrets will learn to understand their games and not react poorly to a light bite.

Not showing aggression keeps ferrets calm and friendly while reacting angrily to what a ferret sees as a game could send them into fighting mode. 

However, if your ferret is too active and playful, or your cat is in a bad mood, they could misunderstand each other and create a dangerous situation where a fight may be imminent.

In this case, you should separate the two for at least a few hours until they have calmed down and returned to their cheerful selves. 

As long as both your cat and ferret are given enough space, toys, and hiding spots, they should be able to live in the same room or house without any issues. 

Brown and white ferret standing on twigs

Do Cats Eat Ferrets?

Cats don’t usually eat ferrets as they are not one of their natural prey. 

Despite ferrets being the right size to become cat food, their confident nature and ability to protect themselves will quickly convince your cat they aren’t worth the risk. 

Are Ferrets Dangerous To Cats?

Ferrets can cause damage to cats, especially if they manage to bite any vital body regions like the neck. 

Ferrets have stronger bites than cats but do not boast the same size, weight, or deadly claws.

If your cat and ferret do get into an altercation, you should stop them immediately by throwing a wet towel over either one and lifting them away from the other. 

If a ferret has bitten your cat or vice versa, you should take both to the vet to check for possible disease transmission or if they need stitches. 

Similarities Between Cats And Ferrets:

Many people choose to buy a ferret after already owning a cat. 

Ferrets and cats share many similarities, and they can become great friends under the right circumstances and with compatible personalities. 

Some of the most striking similarities between a cat and a ferret include:

  • Both are curious creatures who love exploring their surroundings
  • Both are carnivorous
  • Both were domesticated to be hunters
  • Both love to play and can often become overly invested in their games
  • Both can be destructive, tearing up clothes and scratching furniture in the process of having fun
  • Both love sneaking outdoors at every opportunity and may send you calling their names outside until nightfall, often only returning days after their disappearing trick

Do Ferrets Bite Hard?

Yes, ferrets can bite very hard [Source].

Due to their hunting abilities and domestication for killing rodents, they developed exceptionally strong biteforces that are worse than a cat’s. 

Ferrets can also carry dangerous germs and bacteria that could be spread to humans if they are bitten, which is why some states don’t allow ferrets to be kept in a house with children who are at an increased risk of being bitten or injured and subsequently fall sick. 

Conclusion

Ferrets are predatory carnivores with natural hunting instincts and incredibly powerful bites. It’s not surprising, therefore, that they could very possibly kill a cat should a fight ever break out. 

Luckily, this is unlikely if your pet ferret and cat are properly introduced and taught to play fairly. Who knows? In the end, they may even become friends.

Brigitte Cave

Bridgitte grew up on a farm and eventually spent 5 years on Mahe Island in the Seychelles during her teen years. Her time living on a farm was spent mostly around animals including dogs, cats, cows, horses, and all sorts of fowl (chickens, ducks, and geese included). You can find out more about Bridgitte at https://mercurypets.com/our-writers/ Bridgitte is a keen horse rider and has competed in many showjumping competitions. She loves writing about pretty much all animals, and particularly dogs, cats, small mammals, horses and reptiles.

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