Can cats and bettas live together?

Cats are super fun, independent, and good companions. They are also great explorers and hunters. And, they love to bring us ‘gifts’, when they don’t eat them. When we have a betta, the last thing we want is our furry friend to find it a beautiful gift to give us or a purrfect snack! In this case, we often think if the fish will be poisonous to our cat. No, betta fish are not poisonous to your cat.

However, we want to do everything in our hands to protect both our pet friends. In this post, we are going to discuss the cat’s behavior towards your fish and whether the betta fish are poisonous to your cat. Also, we are going to talk about what to do if your cat, unfortunately, eats your betta, but most importantly, how can we prevent that from happening. 

Can cats and bettas live together?

There are no reasons why both pets can not live in the same house. Taking the proper measurements to avoid any mishaps is paramount so curiosity doesn’t kill the fish.

Can cats be poisoned by bettas?

Unlike some species of fish that can be toxic when ingested, like pufferfish, mackerel, swordfish, boxfishes, salmon, and tuna (the last two due to their high levels of heavy metal content), bettas are not toxic fish. Although territorial, they do not have any glands that can secrete toxins that could poison a cat or any other animal. Like any fish, they can carry parasites and bacteria that can lead to infections, especially when eaten raw or if they are eaten after being dead for a while. However, one of the biggest dangers we must consider is the choking hazard when a cat eats a betta.

Can a cat choke from eating a betta?

Yes, your cat can choke after eating a betta fish. Despite being small fish, measuring only 2 to 3 inches (5.08 to 7.62 cm) long, bettas can present a choking hazard to a cat especially because of their little bones that could get stuck in its throat and even cutting it.

If your cat starts choking after ingesting your betta, do not hesitate and take it immediately to your local vet. Choking can be fatal. And the veterinarian is the most qualified professional to deal with such issues.

How can you know that your cat is choking? And what to do when there’s no time? (Only in extreme case scenarios)

If your cat starts behaving oddly, pawing at its mouth or rubbing its face on the ground, coughing, gagging, drooling, or presenting cyanosis (their membranes become blue due to lack of oxygen), just take the cat to the vet before it’s too late. As mentioned before, veterinarians have the experience, expertise, and means to solve these issues. If your local vet does not provide a 24/7 service, go to the nearest veterinary hospital.

If you have an extreme case scenario in which you cannot afford to lose any second, you might have to do something before taking your cat to the vet. If you manage to open your cat’s mouth after restraining it, try to look for the obstruction. Do not try to push the fish down the cat’s throat or attempt to remove it with your fingers under any circumstances. These can make the situation worse. In case you have a pair of long tweezers you may try to remove the fish, but the best thing you can do is to let the vet remove it. 

How do you know if your cat has been poisoned?

Well, we do know that the betta fish itself does not poison your cat. However, there are other ways that your cat can be poisoned. Your cat can eat or sniff some of your fish’s medications or any chemicals that are used to control the water pH, kill parasites, or fungus. So, all chemicals must be outside the reach of children, as well as your cat. Safety first!

In the event of poisoning, common symptoms are diarrhea, vomiting, salivating, convulsion, hypoventilation, changes in behavior, appetite, urine, depression, abdominal pain, skin inflammation, fever, excess urination, among others. Again, at the first sign that something is not right and your cat could have been poisoned, do not waste any second! Take your cat to the veterinary immediately for treatment.

7 ways to cat-proof your betta

Even though your betta is somewhat safe inside the aquarium, the fact that the cat has its attention towards your betta can increase your fish’s level of stress to a point that it will affect its immune system, making your betta prone to infection.  Below, there are 7 ways you can cat-proof your betta’s tank and therefore, decrease the chances of any cat-betta incident.

  1. Make sure your cat can’t easily reach your aquarium. The perfect location for an aquarium in a house that has a cat is in a place without easy access to your feline. This means having your tank away from any furniture and objects that your cat can use to jump its way to the tank. Arranging obstacles that will prevent your cat from getting there is also a good alternative. All cables from the air pump, filter, lights, etc, should be out of your cat’s reach. Your cat can get tangled in the cables which can eventually make your tank fall over.
  1. Position your aquarium in a manner that your cat can’t push it. There are many videos of cats knocking over objects just because. So, having a betta in a bowl is not a good idea. Make sure your tank is big and heavy enough so your cat can’t push it. Make sure your tank has a lid that can prevent your fish to jump out of the aquarium in despair and at the same time can hold the weight of a cat.
  1. Give you betta a lot of hiding spots. If your betta can hide from your cat, it will become less stressed out. And your cat might even lose interest in your fish. So, take advantage of natural plants, caves, rocks, and other decors making your betta feel safe.
  1. Use cat repellent. If your cat is not a quitter, then you might have to take stronger measures to keep it away from your betta tank. You can add sandpaper, double-sticky tape, string, or tin foil to the surface of your tank. These are unpleasant textures to your cat, so it will make sure not to go nearby them. Natural repellents such as vinegar, citrus peel, rue, lavender, citronella, garlic, and eucalyptus work wonders.
  1. No cats are allowed while cleaning the tank. Whether you are performing the partial water change or cleaning your tank, the cat must be as far as possible. Since the aquarium’s lid will be open for a while, this could be an excellent opportunity for a curious cat. 
  1. Cover the tank at the end of the day. Both your betta and the aquarium plants need a daily light and dark cycle. Your fish needs to know the period to stay active and to rest, and the plants need the dark to carry on their photosynthetic process. When the lights are off and the cover is up, your cat won’t be as interested in your fish, and your betta will be able to rest. 
  1. No cats are allowed in the room. That is certainly the last alternative. Keep your cat out of the room where your tank is at all times. At least for a while. Then slowly introduce each other but ensure your cat has plenty of activities and things that it enjoys so its attention is not drawn to the fish.

Diverting your cat’s interest from your betta

Cats are hunters by nature. They are not trying to get your betta out of spite. So, you should not get mad at your cat, let alone punish it in any form. An excellent way to take the cat’s mind from your betta is by spending some quality time with your furry friend. When you play with your cat, they exercise and you get to laugh because they are so funny when they are happily playing. Feather wands, laser points, cat kickers… there are many options to choose from. 

Catify your house, especially in a different area where your aquarium is located. Your cat must have a space where it can explore, jump, climb, eat, sleep, and do everything it would do if it were outdoors. A happy cat will have other interests than get your betta.

Now, some cats just like to watch your fish swimming around. There are apps and TV shows that can distract your cat just as much as your betta tank. Maybe you can interest your cat with a virtual fish tank that can try to catch the fish or watch a program specially designed for cats.


Having pets can bring great joy to our lives. A cat is a very independent, curious, and funny animal with a natural hunter instinct. In its turn, a betta fish is feisty but at the same time, they are beautiful, smart, and playful creatures. 

When we have a cat and a betta as pets, we must take some precautions to guarantee their safety and well-being. Cats might try to hunt down the betta, and in some cases, they can be successful.

You can avoid having your cat successfully get hold of your betta by safe-proofing your aquarium with natural repellents or textures that will make your cat uncomfortable, placing your tank in a place that is without reach to your cat, getting a sturdy lid to your tank, and spending some quality time with your cat so it can develop interests other than your fish.

Another tip is to cover the tank before going to bed and maybe keep the tank in an area of the house where the cat won’t go.  If the cat still manages to eat your betta, go to your vet immediately.

Although betta fish are not poisonous to your cat, the chances of choking hazards are great and can even be lethal. Pay attention to the signs and don’t try to remove the betta with your hands or even worse, don’t try to push the betta down the cat’s throat. Take your cat immediately to the veterinarian.

If your cat has access to any chemical used to clean and maintain the water quality of your tank, remove them and store these chemicals in a place where your cat can’t access them. Getting poisonous by chemicals can also be lethal.

If your cat does eat your betta fish, observe the cat closely for signs of poisoning as described above, and seek veterinary attention as soon as possible.