Hamsters need to have special considerations when brought into a home that has existing pets or when new pets are brought into a hamster’s home. Their small size and lack of natural defenses make them easy prey for a larger pet, such as a cat or dog.
We have all heard the odd news story about how cats and hamsters (or another rodent) can get along. This makes a cute news story, but the truth is that you cannot expect a predator and prey to get along and be friends. It would be the same as expecting a snake and a mouse to get along happily – they won’t. In the “real world,” hamsters and cats are mortal enemies. The best thing to do is to keep cats and dogs away from your pet hamster. If necessary, keep the hamster in a room where other pets are not allowed.
Aside from injury and stress, diseases can sometimes be transferred from animal to animal. This is not a common occurrence, but it does happen from time to time and is a cause for concern.
Do not allow other pets to frighten your hamster. This includes having the hamster cage where a dog can bark at it or a cat can watch it hungrily. Do not let pets paw at the housing area of the hamster, scratch the side of the cage or lick the outside of the aquarium. It is unsettling for the hamster inside. This can cause a great deal of stress. Stress is a major cause of many life-threatening diseases for your hamster, including wet tail, so keep stress at a minimum for your little pet.
Do not allow pets to sleep on the cage. This allows the hamster to smell the scent of the cat or dog and can cause the hamster stress. Stress is very unhealthy for hamsters and can cause all types of diseases. The best thing to do is to make sure that your cats and dogs are kept far away from the cage at all times. Place the cage where a cat or dog cannot reach it. Make sure a cat cannot jump up and get behind the cage – this can push the cage to the floor and can be fatal for your hamster. Having a cat lean against a cage is not a good idea, either. Hamsters have been known to try to pull out the fur – making a very angry cat.
Do not leave children unattended with your hamster and another pet, such as a cat or dog. Children may try to get the pets to “play” with each other and this could result in a very unpleasant lesson for your child – and the hamster. (The cat might like it, but that is not the point.)
Make sure the cage is escape proof. Put a lid on aquariums and make sure those lids have latches. Weight the lid down, if necessary. If your hamster escapes, it will be a race between you and the cat as to who finds him first!
Finally, if you have a home where larger, more aggressive pets are a danger to your hamster, and you cannot be sure of his safety, it might be best to find a new home for your pet. Be honest in whether or not your hamster is safe.