Help us protect our scaly friends from our furry friends.
December 13, 2010 6:51 AM   Subscribe

How can we keep our lizards safe from our cats?

We have lizards (Simon and Rusty) as well as cats (Billie and Licorice).

We'd prefer that our furry friends not devour our scaly friends, but the cats have shown a definite interest in the lizards, particularly Rusty, who is able to scale his terrarium and taunt the cats from the underside of his wire mesh ceiling. Options we've already thought of include cage clips, squirting the cats with water when they climb up on top of the lizards' terrariums, and keeping the bedroom door closed when we're not in there (both lizards' terrariums are in our master bedroom).

Are there additional precautions we can or should be taking? We can keep the bedroom door closed when we're not at home, but we'd rather be able to keep it open, if possible, while we are at home, for convenience's sake and because we spend a lot of time in there and would like the cats to be able to spend some of that time with us. Our main concerns are the possibility of the cats jumping up on one of the lizard cages and then falling through (or, in Simon's case, knocking his heat lamp over and setting our home on fire). Is there something we can do to reinforce the terrariums? We can't be the first people to keep cats and cat-snacks as pets in the same household.
posted by infinitywaltz to Pets & Animals (7 answers total)
Response by poster: Whoops! Any chance I can get a quick grammar correction to "...keep our lizards are safe from our cats?"
posted by infinitywaltz at 6:53 AM on December 13, 2010

Best answer: The terrariums need to be on shelves or something fixed where the shelf above is so close to the top of the terrarium that the cat cannot fit between the two. Sitting next to is fine, but on top of is a recipe for bad things happening. You should also make sure the cages are shut securely, so they cannot remove the mesh tops with their paws.
posted by jeather at 6:56 AM on December 13, 2010 [1 favorite]

Concerning cats vs. cat-snacks, you might find this question on cats & rats in the same household useful. The general idea seemed to be that it depends on your cats' temperaments, but that it's entirely possible that your cats are just curious and not actually hungry.
posted by Johnny Assay at 6:58 AM on December 13, 2010

I have close friends who kept their lizard's terrarium on a shelf with the shelf above it close - maybe 2 inches clearance. They stacked encyclopedias next to the terrarium to try to limit access. While I was there we found the lizard's tail - only thing left. I would say don't count on a shelf covering the top to protect your lizards! Clips of some sort or even straps that go under the tank and have a release buckle that requires thumbs might work. My cats spend a great deal of time on top of my fish tank and while they haven't fallen in they've been bitten by fish they were trying to pull out through the one small opening for the filter. The only cage top I've ever had be cat-proof was one with an attached lid that had a hinged hardware cloth door with a latch.
posted by leslies at 7:18 AM on December 13, 2010

I think the cage clips are a good idea, especially after seeing the pic of Billy, who looks like a Maine Coon (thank you for including the required pet pictures! Of the lizards AND the cats. That's a nice touch). I would not trust that cat for one second with your lizards. That cute, befuddled look is just a cover.

I have a Maine Coon now and have had others in the past, and they have ALL been champion lizard terrorizers. They just go nuts for the little guys. Other cats' interests may come and go, but my understanding is that Maine Coons are actually considered "kittens" for far longer (up to 4 years instead of just 1), and they continue to hunt down fun 'toys' to slaughter. My cat has actually made himself sick by biting off lizards' heads and eating them.
posted by misha at 7:21 AM on December 13, 2010 [1 favorite]

I'd get a nice, tall canopy for the top of the tank, keeping the existing screen or whatever in place (to keep Simon and Rusty down inside the tank). The canopy could have strong, mesh covered cutouts in the sides, as well as a strong screen on top. If it is tall enough, you'd have room for the heat lamp to sit inside, away from any lizard hunters.
posted by orme at 7:38 AM on December 13, 2010

Best answer: I've had cats + birds, cats + fish, and cats + lizards. The only way I was ever able to ensure that the cats couldn't terrorize the non-cat pets was by CONSTANT VIGILANCE (tm):

1) No unsupervised cats in the same room as lizards. Cats are crafty and are really good at pushing terrariums off of shelving, figuring out how to open cage covers, etc.

2) Whenever cats and lizards are in the same room, keep a squirt gun at hand. Use it any time the cat even so much as LOOKS at the terrarium for more than three seconds. If cats are staring, cats are thinking about jumping (especially if the ears flatten or the tip of the tail twitches a bit -- that's a cat that wants to pounce). Cats will soon learn that they can't get away with taunting/trying to eat the lizards.

I no longer keep animals that cats can eat, because sometimes even constant vigilance goes wrong... (We had an anole get out of his terrarium when we were cleaning it, and he ran out under the door and was immediately devoured by a cat. We felt really terrible about it.)

And yes, it does to some extent depend on temperament. But remember that cats are predators, and even the laziest, sweetest-natured fat house cat is descended from a long line of highly skilled obligate carnivores. I wouldn't trust Fluffy's laziness as a gold star of harmlessness.
posted by kataclysm at 7:50 AM on December 13, 2010

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