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), those little swimming things in that big glass tank are simply attracting your cat's attention. Their constant swimming in circles and glimmering bodies immediately make a fish an irresistible plaything for your cat. But make no mistake, some cats do and will eat fish. It begins with interest, then entertainment, but it may end with the fish being a snack!
It's All Instinctual
Cats have instinctual urges, like hunting for survival for example, that have been transformed and molded over years of captivity and domestication. Now these instincts have been developed into what the cat believes is "play." This refined "cat-play" however, can not only kill goldfish but it can also become a danger for other small animals in the household like hamsters and mice.
Cats are curious by nature and they do love pawing at fish, mice, and other rodents, some may even decide to kill and eat them or bring them to you as a "gift." I know my cat Mitz had a complete fascination with catfish. He would paw and paw at the catfish for quite a long time until he'd get "stung". (A catfish has a spinal fin that can inflict a good amount of pain if you're not careful while handling it—ouch!). Mice garnered another, quite different reaction from Mitz. He'd actually ignore mice! He was completely uninterested in mice. Sometimes, in rare instances, Mitz would watch a mouse run across the floor but he wouldn't give chase. He was my buddy though and I loved him dearly, but did you ever hear of a cat that wouldn't chase a mouse?
Precautions to Take
The best precaution to take if your cat shows some overzealous interest in your goldfish is to get some sort of cover enclosure for your tank. If it's the fish pond where your cat seeks entertainment with a fish floorshow, there are many different animal repellents you can spray around your fish pond. (Most pet stores carry "Cat Deterrent Crystals" to spread around your pond.) As an alternative to chemicals, you can also cover your pond with some sort of netting, also found at pet shops or online.
Keep in mind, a cat pawing at your fish tank or your small pet's cage can cause these pets some undue stress. These stresses can even cause a change in your fish's color. A continuing stressful situation may deteriorate a small pets' health, so be sure to keep all your pets happy (they depend upon you!) and keep all fish tanks and small pet cages secure and, if possible, out of your cat's reach.
By Tom Matteo