Popular cartoons have always portrayed a cat as a curious, devious-minded feline that enjoys pawing inside a goldfish bowl in an attempt to score a quick fish dinner. Realistically, your cat is probably like the animated cat in regards to curiosity. If you catch your cat being attentive to goldfish (or any other pet fish for that matter), it's because moving things in a big glass tank is simply too attractive for your cat to resist.
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A fish's constant swimming in circles and glimmering bodies immediately makes it an irresistible plaything for your cat. Sure, you can buy goldfish for cats to keep your feline entertained and mentally stimulated —but make no mistake, some cats do and will eat fish. It begins with interest, then entertainment, but it might end with the fish becoming a snack.
Goldfish for cats: toys or food?
Cats have instinctual urges, like hunting for survival, that have been transformed and modified after years of captivity and domestication. Today, these instincts have developed into a type of cat play — most domestic cats play the way they would have hunted centuries ago. This modified "cat-play," however, can not only kill goldfish but can also become a danger for other small pets in the household such as hamsters, gerbils, and mice.
Keeping cats away from fish ponds
Cats are predatory animals and an outdoor pond filled with fish will attract them. Fortunately, cats don't like getting wet, so it's unlikely they will jump in your pond. But some will sit patiently at the edge and wait for fish to come to them. Koi are likely too big for them to catch, but claws can cause damage to fins and scales. If it's the fish pond where your cat seeks entertainment, cover the pond with netting or domed net cover.
If a net spoils the look of your pond, try using cat deterrents. For instance, cats don't like the smell of citrus, so sprinkle orange and lemon peels around the pool. Similarly, cats are repelled by the scent of lavender and lemon thyme, so incorporating those plants into your pond landscaping is a good idea. Plants such as waterlilies in the pond will also give small fish hiding places, which is also a good idea if racoons room your neighborhood.
Keeping cats away from fish tanks
Keeping fish tanks in your home as entertainment for your cats isn't a terrible idea if you do it correctly. You want to keep your cat at least two feet away from the tank. Set up a cat perch at this distance from the tank and/or keep the fish tank on a stand designed for this purpose, because there is no ledge around the tank for the cat to sit on. Putting tin foil or sticky tape around the edge of the tank lid might keep cats from jumping on top. Finally, like the pond, provide plant-like hiding places for the fish in the tank to reduce anxiety.
Keep in mind, a cat pawing at your fish tank or your small pet's cage can cause these pets stress. These stresses can even cause a change in your fish's color. A continuing stressful situation might deteriorate a small pets' health. Maintain all your pets' health by keeping fish tanks and small pet cages secure — and out of your cat's reach.