Many households have multiple kinds of animals so it is an obvious question to ask if a ferret would get along with your dog, cat, or other pet. This is a complex issue and depends a lot on the personality and characteristics of both the ferret and the other pets. While your cats, and sometimes dogs, might get along with ferrets, it is still necessary to supervise all interactions closely to protect both the ferrets and the other pets.
And in some cases, your other pets and ferrets will not get along at all and will need to be kept away from each other for everyone's safety. Before you combine ferrets and other pets in the household, you should decide if it will be too difficult to divide your attention between your pets in the event that they do not get along.
Do Cats Get Along With Ferrets?
Ferrets and cats often get along well although it does depend on the temperaments of all involved. Cats will often play with ferrets and vice versa and ferrets can usually hold their own against cats. There are definite exceptions though, so supervise play sessions very closely until you are assured that both your ferret and your cat will be fine (and even then you should be close by to watch over them). Ferrets can actually be a little tough on cats, especially kittens, so don't let a grown ferret play with a kitten without close supervision.
Do Dogs Get Along With Ferrets?
Whether or not dogs get along with ferrets is a much more complicated and individual issue and you must carefully consider a dog's temperament before introducing him or her to a ferret. Many dogs will be fine with ferrets but remember that some dog breeds (such as some terriers) were bred for the purpose of hunting small game, so they might be tempted to chase ferrets instinctively.
Large dogs may inadvertently hurt a ferret in play, territorial dogs might snap at a ferret if the ferret gets too close to its toys or food, and any dog might instinctively react to being chased or nipped by a ferret. It is possible for a dog, especially a larger one, to seriously hurt a ferret on accident or just by natural dog behavior, so be cautious. If there is any doubt or any sign of aggression, it is best to never have dogs and ferrets run free together. Make sure to keep ferrets away from your dog's food and toys.
What About Other Pets?
As a general rule, ferrets don't mix well with other kinds of pets either due to risk to the other pets or risk to the ferret. Remember that ferrets are carnivores and while your ferret may not consciously think of other small pets (e.g hamsters and other rodents, rabbits, birds, small lizards, snakes) as a meal because they do not eat whole prey diets, quick movements by these small animals may trigger a predator-prey instinct in your ferret. It is better to be safe than sorry, so it is recommended to keep ferrets and pets other than cats and dogs completely separated.
Tips for Introducing Your Ferret to a Dog or Cat
1. Know your pets and their temperaments.
If one is hyper or snappy mixing them with other pets could be a problem.
2. Make introductions slowly. First, allow a cat or dog to investigate the ferret while the ferret is in the safety of its cage.
3. If your pets get along through the cage bars, hold your ferret while allowing your cat or dog to investigate (it's a good idea to have someone on hand to hold the dog or cat if necessary).
4. If there are no signs of aggression, put the ferret down and allow him/her to interact with the dog or cat. It might be good to leash your ferret and/or your dog.
5. Supervise very carefully at first. Even if everything goes well you should always be on hand to keep an eye on things and intervene if necessary.
6. Make sure your ferret has someplace to escape to if necessary (a hiding place only the ferret can get to), especially with dogs.
As a general rule (but not without exceptions) a ferret that grows up with cats or dogs is likely to get along better with them. Similarly, dogs and cats that grow up with ferrets are more likely to accept and play with them. Still, for the safety of all involved, it is a good idea to supervise interactions between ferrets and any other pet.
Edited by Adrienne Kruzer, RVT