Most aquarists are animal lovers and keep an assortment of pets that do not only include fish.

Unfortunately, some of the pets that we keep are natural prey for other pets – the most quintessential being cats and fish.

Does that mean that you have to choose between one or the other? Absolutely not! With careful planning and a little work, keeping both cats and fish is incredibly easy.

I’ve put together a small list of tips that you can use to ensure that your fish are safe from harm and your cat is kept happy.

Understanding your cat

Cats are truly curious creatures

Each cat owner will have a vastly different experience from the next. 

This is largely due to the varying nature and personality of each cat.

Despite this, most cats present similar characteristics and quirks that make them undeniably cat-like.

Curious Nature

One such quirk is an attraction to (or, perhaps more accurately, a curiosity about) bright, colorful lights and varied movement – two things they’ll find in abundance in a fish tank.

That doesn’t mean that Whiskers has ill intentions for your fish, in fact, some people describe fish tanks as “kitty TV”.

Cats have an appreciation of the outdoors and fish tanks offer them a naturalistic source of entertainment.

Drinking From Fish Tank

Another quirk that some cats may demonstrate is to drink from your fish tank, despite other sources of water being available.

There are quite a few theories about why cats do this, but it is universally agreed that your cat doing this may be harmful to your fish.

Water Quality

As most aquarists are aware, keeping your water at a good quality is paramount to your fish’s health, which is compromised by your cat drinking from it.

If you’re struggling to keep your tank clean, I recommend looking at buying yourself a good quality 125 gallon aquarium filter.

Your cat may also start by drinking water from the tank, but curiosity could lead her to want to find out more about the tank and its inhabitants, which could lead to larger issues.

Fish Safety

Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, is the question of whether your cat will try to eat your fish.

The answer varies from cat to cat and it’s impossible to say whether yours will try to consume your fish, though cats are known to enjoy the strong smell of fish and the protein-rich meal that they offer.

With this said, your cat may not, but he also may – in either case, it’s best to ensure that you have protected your fish against the potential threat.

Effects on Fish

Remember that even if your cat is just curious about your fish and doesn’t bother eating them, but rather “plays” with them, your fish will still become stressed and experience issues related to this undue stress.

What can you do to keep your cat from your fish?

While there is a lot you can do to keep your fish safe from your cat, the prize will always be to separate them from each other completely. There are a few things that you can do to ensure that your cat stays clear of your tank. Here are some of my recommendations:

  1. Make use of animal repellents, such as Get Off Cat And Dog Repellent. This is a great non-toxic mix that, as the name suggests, keeps your cat away from your tank.
  2. If you have a room dedicated to your tank/s, you can pour vinegar in the room – your cat will avoid it at all costs!
  3. Make sure your cat’s toys are not in the same room as your tank. If there’s less reason to go into the same room as your tank, your cat may not bother going in at all, especially if coupled with one of the above.
  4. Kind of a follow up to the last tip, but still deserving of its own spot – buy your cat some new toys! A new scratching post or cat stand could be the perfect distraction from their kitty TV and who isn’t for a little less screen time?

Cat-proofing your tank

If all of the tips above fail, fear not! There are some other steps that you can take to help!

By cat-proofing your tank, you’ll eliminate the risk of your cat getting hold of your fish.

This does not eliminate the risk of your cat stressing out your fish, so I still recommend trying to separate your cat from your fish if they are persistently harassing them. Here’s how I recommend you go about making your tank cat-free:

  1. Keep your tank high up. If your cat can’t reach the tank, it won’t be able to access it.
  2. Surround your tank with obstacles that make it impossible for your cat to access the tank.
  3. Make sure that your tank is stable (this isn’t so much about keeping your cat from the tank, but keeping your fish safe in the incident that your cat does manage to get to it).
  4. Purchase a cat-proof lid or netting. Most pet stores sell these and they’ll prevent your cat from getting into your tank.
  5. Provide your fish with a space to hide from your cat. There are awesome features that you can buy that not only make your tank look better, but also make for good hiding spots.

By implementing at least one of these tips, your fish will be protected against any threat of danger from your cat.