Hedgehogs have gained immense popularity as exotic pets in the past few years. Their cute little faces have been intriguing many people and unlike most animals, they grow up to be extremely cute adults. The most common type of hedgehog species used for the pet trade is the African pygmy hedgehog.
Technically speaking, most hedgehog species can be friends with cats but it requires a lot of patience. Your pet hedgehog will not immediately be best mates with a cat. In fact, they may never be but they can learn to be together.
Most hedgehog owners don’t understand the importance of getting their pet comfortable around other animals or pets, especially cats.
Cats can and sometimes do attack hedgehogs, if you have an adult hedgehog it might protect itself but most likely, a young hedgehog will die.
There are over 75 million pet cats in the US, this equals to more than 30 percent of the households. Plus, we are not counting the strays. Hence, even if you don’t own a cat, there is a good chance your hedgehog will interact with a feline once in his/her lifetime.
In most cases, cat owners who want this exotic little cute creature refrain from investing in one, since they don’t even consider that the cat and the hedgehog will get along.
Even though hedgehogs are solitary animals, there are many examples where they are living peacefully with other species like cats and dogs. Moreover, hedgehogs have a super self-defense system, so unless your hedgehog is a baby or is pretty young, it will be fine.
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Yes, Hedgehogs and Cats Can Get Along
If we specifically talk about the African pygmy hedgehogs, they are not only well-equipped to defend themselves but are also quite tolerant of other pets.
Hence, the chances of them getting along with your cat are pretty high. But, it is extremely important that you go through a well-planned step-by-step process to avoid any inconveniences.
But, There are Risks
Usually, cats leave hedgehogs after investigating them and learn to stay away from the quills but in some encounters, both the animals can end up hurt.
Cats have a natural instinct to play with or pick up anything that is moving. There have been many cases where cats, not out of spite but out of playfulness, have tried to hold the hedgehog with their mouths.
You need to be careful about the situation as it can be risky for both the animals.
The hedgehog will use quills to defend against the ‘attack’ and may harm the cat.
Only let your cat and hedgehog interact in your presence. Don’t leave them alone as it may be dangerous for both the animals.
Bring Them Closer Slowly and Gradually
Cats are very territorial animals, and even though hedgehogs are pretty harmless, if they feel threatened, they will employ their self-defense mechanism.
However, there are ways that will help you introduce both the animals to each other. We don’t ensure that they will become the best of friends, but they will learn to live with each other.
The one and the only way to make this possible is by slowly and gradually introducing both the pets to each other. Do not be in a hurry.
The process is very similar to introducing two cats to each other.
As a first step, rub a towel or cloth on your hedgehog and allow your cat to smell it. This will give your cat time to get comfortable and know the smell. Do the same for your hedgehog.
Consistency is the key to making them comfortable with each other.
Eventually, the smell will not disturb them. Once you feel they are comfortable with the smell, you can move to the next step.
This time put your cat and your hedgie in separate cages and keep them in the vicinity of each other but at least 5 meters apart.
Slowly and gradually bring the cages closer. This can take a lot of time.
Once you see that they are not bothered by the presence of another animal in the room, introduce them without cages under supervision.
Give Them Time to Know Each Other
Since hedgehogs and cats are not used to each other naturally, it might take more time than you expect for them to get comfortable with each other.
Felines and hedgehogs, both are known for their solitary nature, which makes them independent but very skeptical of other animals. Hence, it is necessary that you take it slow.
They will need time to adjust and get used to the fact that there is another species in their territory.
Hedgehogs and feline, both are known for their stubborn nature, hence, time is your only friend here. They both may react differently to the same situation and you will have to handle things accordingly. For example, the cat may appear ready to move but the hedgehog may not.
In such situations, it is important that you wait until they both seem comfortable with the idea.
Always Keep an Eye On
Leaving both the pets together unsupervised, even after they get comfortable with each other, will be a very big mistake.
Animals don’t have the ability to analyze things like humans do, which is why they may attack each other at times for no reason
Vets and animal behavior analysts always advise pet parents not to let their hedgies roam around in a house with cats and dogs unsupervised, rather introducing them and letting them interact under supervision is the right way to go about it.
You can keep your hedgehog caged and keep the cage at an elevated position so that other pets cannot bug your hedgehog. This is important if there are other animals in the room.
If you do not do it then your hedgehog will feel uncomfortable and may hide in a corner.
Pay Attention to the Signs
Since pets cannot be vocal about how they feel, it is up to us that we decipher the signs they give us.
Let’s talk about cats first. If you see any of the following signs in your feline, it is time to separate it from the hedgehog:
• Body and tail fur getting fluffier
• Arching of the back
• Flattening of ears
• Tensed or crouched body posture
• Wiggling of butt
• Growling with the mouth closed
Even though hedgehogs are pretty non-aggressive animals, they do show signs of aggressiveness at times. If you observe any one of these signs, make sure you take the animal back to its sanctuary.:
• Light growling
• Sharpening or opening of quills
• Rolling into a ball
To calm your hedgehog down, slightly start rubbing its tail and talk to him/her in your normal voice, give it some time to unroll and slowly pick it up and put it back in its safe place.
If you see signs of aggression, it is better to abort the introduction process for the day.
Do Not Let Them Roam Around Openly
Mind you, getting your hedgehog comfortable with a single cat does not mean it has gotten used to every cat out there.
There are many other animals roaming around outside the house. Hence, do not leave your hedge to roam around outside without supervision. It might lead to an attack from an unknown animal.
This can force the hedge to go into a phase of depression. We know that hedgehogs sulk in their shells when they do not like something.
This is because hedgehogs are nocturnal animals, they sleep during the day and look for food at night.
Letting your hedgehog roam around during the day will rid its body of essential fluids straining its vital organs. Hence, be careful and know how to handle the animal.
Warning: Stray Cats Are Not Your Hedgehog’s Friends
This is something all hedgehog parents need to understand.
As already mentioned, getting your hedgie used to one cat does not mean it will be comfortable with every cat out there.
Even if your hedgie is extremely friendly towards other cats, it does not mean other cats will be friendly towards it.
Most stray cats have a natural instinct to prey on anything that comes in front of them.
Your hedgehog will be nothing but another prey for them and they will most definitely attack it.
Older and larger hedgehogs may get away with these attacks, but the younger and smaller ones cannot.
Also, even if your pet survives the attacks, it will affect the animal mentally.
Thus, to ensure proper safety of your hedgehog it always keeps it safe inside and supervised. Do not let the pet mingle with stray cats even if you feel that ‘all is well’.
Hedgehogs, despite being banned in six American states, are one of the cutest and friendliest pets one can get. But, they can be very difficult to handle at times due to their vulnerable nature.
It is better you get a female hedgehog as they easily adjust with humans and other animals. Male hedgehogs can be aggressive and may fight with other animals.
Follow these easy and simple tips to make things easier. Happy parenting!