You may wonder how your ferret will get along with an existing dog or cat in your home. You may be a ferret owner and be considering bringing a dog or cat into the home. How will your ferret react?
The real question you should ask is how the other animal is going to react! For the most part, your ferret will see this other creature as a potential playmate. Dogs and cats, however, do not see things that way, unless they are very young when the animal meets the ferret.
Ideally, you will pair a dog or cat with a ferret when both are still young. They will both be very playful, and will most likely get along well together for their entire lives. If you can’t pair them together when they are young, you may have to settle some disputes before they do learn to get along – and depending on the dog or cat, they may never get along.
It is important to remember that ferrets remain playful for their entire lives. Dogs and cats do not, and an older dog or cat may have issues with a ferret that is always ‘bothering’ them. Wars can quickly break out, teeth will gnash, and the fur will fly.
Another issue at hand is territory. Dogs, cats, and ferrets are all territorial. Animals that have been in the home for a while have already established their territory – and that territory usually covers the entire home. A new animal in the home may be made to feel unwelcome.
When you do put animals together, you must think in terms of ‘sibling rivalry.’ This will be a problem for the animals. If you give one more attention than you give the others, there will be jealousy, and again, wars may break out. Don’t ever assume that animals don’t feel jealousy. No matter how old they get, they are really ‘forever young.’ Make sure that they are getting equal attention – they won’t grow out of it like human children will.
It is best not to try to force the issue when introducing a ferret to a dog or cat. Stand back and let them interact with each other in the way that animals do. There may be a few skirmishes, and one will establish himself as the boss, while the other will concede to subservient status. You cannot intervene in this – it is the way of the jungle, and they have to settle it themselves. All you can really do is try to make sure that one doesn’t do any serious bodily harm to the other.
After the animals have had skirmishes, or even played together, make sure that you inspect each animal for any accidental injuries that could turn out to be quite serious. Cats and dogs also use claws and teeth when playing or fighting. Also, because scratches and bites may occur, make sure that all of the animals are healthy and vaccinated before you allow them to interact.