The purpose of this blog is to share general information and is written to the author's best knowledge. It is not intended to be used in place of veterinary advice. For health concerns, please seek proper veterinary care.
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It can generally go without saying that there are countless different types of pets that you can choose to invest both your time and money into. Of course, just about everyone is aware of cats and dogs, which have arguably been the most popular pets for decades now.
However, as more and more people branch out from the standard idea of having either a cat or dog as a pet, there are more questions that come up.
For example, you might begin to wonder how well pets of different species can get along with each other. Before more people took in exotic and uncommon pets, the most that you would usually wonder is simply how to introduce dogs and cats to each other so that they can form a lasting bond.
Nowadays, if you are planning on having more than one species of pet under your roof, you are going to want to make sure that every animal in the house is able to get along with each other.
Unfortunately, the problem isn’t as simple as making sure that your pets aren’t going to get into a fight as soon as you are not looking. More often than not, the problem with having pets of two different species is that one species is going to be the predator and the other will be the prey, and this can become problematic in a home setting.
Take for example, someone trying to house both a hedgehog and a cat in their home. Both cats and hedgehogs can hunt down their food as necessary, but cats tend to have far more of a prey drive for small animals that could easily qualify as “prey” in a cat’s mind.
To a cat who has likely never seen a hedgehog before, the small and meek nature of a hedgehog makes it perfect prey material. If your pets are not properly introduced and accustomed to each other, this can create a number of problems in your household.
This also begs the question of whether it is physically possible for cats and hedgehogs to get along with each other.
There are plenty of instances where animals will not get along with each other, by nature, and cannot be housed together without some form of separation. Take different kinds of fish as an example to this, as you cannot house prey and feeding fish with hunting and predator fish.
Before you really get settled on the idea of your hedgehog and cat getting along, you are first going to need to have a firm idea of whether it is something that can happen and how much work would be needed to get the two animals used to each other’s presence.
Is There a Chance?
Depending on what your definition of “getting along” is, there’s certainly a chance that your cat and hedgehog will be able to get along with each other.
In some cases, getting along can be synonymous with being coexistent, even if they are not going to seek each other out, it will mean that you can go to sleep knowing that both pets will be alive and fine in the morning. In other cases, getting along might mean that the cat and hedgehog will snuggle up together and will actively seek out companionship with their better half.
When it comes to hedgehogs and cats, it is going to be the first instance of getting along that you can expect to happen. As long as you take the time and patience to properly socialize your cat and hedgehog with each other so that neither assumes the other is predator or prey, cats and hedgehogs can coexist very peacefully.
It is incredibly rare that your hedgehog and cat are going to become the best of friends and will be able to sleep side-by-side, so during this process, you should be willing to settle for the animals tolerating each other’s presence.
Cats are naturally curious animals, but they are also pretty smart by the standards of the animal kingdom. A cat will likely be interested in the small, strange, and spiked creature that has been invited into the house, but there’s also a good chance that after one or two experiences with the hedgehog pricking the cat, the cat will learn not to bother the hedgehog and the two will get along peacefully, focusing on their own separate things.
Hedgehogs, on the other hand, are naturally very solitary animals. They are often quite happy when they have a cage all to themselves and they don’t have to interact with animals of other species, that is to say, before you introduce the hedgehog to the cat.
However, because hedgehogs have such a strong self-defense system with their spikes, even if your cat tries to swat the hedgehog once or twice, both of them will leave being mildly perturbed but otherwise fine.
With all of this being said, if you already have a hedgehog and you are thinking of welcoming a stray cat into your house, you may want to think twice. Most house cats may have some prey drive left as they are natural predators, but stray cats will have much more of their prey drive intact.
If a stray cat sees a hedgehog, it will be much more inclined to attack the hedgehog rather than curiously sniff it.
Even if the hedgehog’s spikes protect it from any severe damage, the fact that your cat attacked it with more than just a tentative tap is going to be very stressful mentally. In general, it is not a good idea to let small prey animals roam around your house when you know that your stray cat is going to try and hunt them down as their habits tell them to.
In the end, there is absolutely a chance, and even a good one, that your cat and your hedgehog can coexist peacefully. It is going to take a fair amount of work to try and socialize and accommodate the two animals to get used to each other’s presence, but for these pet owners, it will be well worth the trouble.
Now that you know that this is certainly possible, you will want to think about how you can introduce the two animals to each other and provide a comfortable place for them to get to know each other.
What Can You Expect During the Encounter?
One of the most important things that you will need to be aware of while getting your cat and hedgehog used to each other is how the other will act when you are introducing them.
The goal of repeatedly allowing both animals to come into contact with each other (at their own pace, of course), is to allow for both the cat and the hedgehog to recognize the other as a natural part of the family, rather than being something new that needs to be examined in every way possible.
This means that you are going to want to have enough sessions of bringing the two animals together that your cat will be able to walk by the hedgehog without trying to bat it or hunt it down.
Likewise, it would be optimal if your hedgehog could carry about with its business without curling into a ball at the sight of the cat. This may be a little bit more problematic to deal with, as some hedgehogs will respond this way even if it has been established that the cat offers no threat.
Also keep in mind that if you have cats that are allowed to roam the house as they please, you are going to have to keep an eye on any interactions between those cats and your hedgehog when the two do interact.
Because one animal has a natural prey drive and the other animal can easily be mistaken for prey, you will always need to monitor how the cat and hedgehog interact so that you can be ready at a moment’s notice to help the pet as necessary.
Assuming that neither your hedgehog nor your cat have encountered another one of the other’s species before, you can expect that when they first meet, both of them will be apprehensive.
The hedgehog will likely be more on the cautious side of things, taking on a defensive position, while the cat will likely take on a curious position, although it too will be cautious, as it may not know what to think about the hedgehog.
There’s a good chance that your hedgehog will curl up into a ball out of fear. This is a pretty standard defense tactic, as it protects all of the hedgehog’s weaker spots and leaves only the quills for the potential predator to investigate.
Cats, being as stubborn as they are, will likely not be dissuaded by the sight of the quills. You should make sure that, while your hedgehog might be scared, that fear is not going to progress into aggression.
When the cat is standing beside the hedgehog curled up into a ball, it will likely take the time to reach out a paw to try and touch the strange, spiked creature. Given the fact that quills are not pleasant on sensitive surfaces (such as a cat’s claws), the cat will likely be taken aback by the slight pain it’ll feel.
Other cats may opt to sniff the hedgehog with their nose, and because a cat’s nose is even more sensitive than their paw pads, the reaction will likely be to back up even more.
This is where you will want to keep an eye on how both of the pets react to this first encounter. Some animals, when faced with unfamiliar and fear-evoking situations (such as being pricked by quills, as your cat isn’t going to understand why the quills are there), will turn toward aggression to fight off the threat.
Likewise, if your hedgehog is beginning to feel cornered because the cat has been getting too close or staying there for too long, the normally docile pet may also begin to show signs of anger and aggression.
Knowing what these signs are for both hedgehogs and cats is going to be important, as it will ensure that you know when it is time to cut the interaction short for the day.
You should usually remain hands-off while allowing pets to socialize with each other and let them get used to the other at their own pace, but when signs of aggression start to show, that will be your cue that it is time to step in and remove the cat and hedgehog from the situation and try again the next day.
With enough dedication and practice, there’s a very good chance that your hedgehog and cat, at the very least, will be able to coexist in the same house without starting a fight and knocking things over.
As hedgehogs tend to be solitary creatures, they will likely not cuddle up to the cat per se, but they will reach a point where they will not always curl up at the mere sight of a cat.
Knowing When to Stop for the Day
While you are doing this, you should be well aware of what the common signs of aggression are in both hedgehogs and cats. While it is rare for hedgehogs to display any sort of aggression, when faced with a situation such as meeting a cat for the first time, you might be surprised that your hedgehog may try and fight to defend itself against this “threat.”
For cats, the signs of aggression are fairly straightforward. These include arching the back and raising the hackles, fluffing up the tail, and keeping tense and crouched low to the ground.
The cat will usually be hissing, spitting, and its ears will be flat behind its head. It may also growl with its mouth closed as a way to fend off the perceived threat.
Hedgehogs, on the other hand, have quite a bit fewer signs of aggression to look for, as they are almost always docile animals. A cornered hedgehog will usually hiss, growl lightly, open up its quills, and tuck itself into a ball.