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Do Cats and Iguanas Get Along?

You have a cat you love and adore, but for a long while now, you have been contemplating the idea of getting another pet to join the family. All different types of pets race through your mind: dogs, birds, fish, but nothing seems to jump out to you. Then, finally, you think of getting an iguana, but how harmoniously will the two different species of animal get along with one another?

There is a one-in-a-million chance you would find a cat and an iguana being friends in the wild. That’s because iguanas and cats aren’t the most compatible companions. Still, with breed compatibility, supervision, separate spaces, secure enclosures, and plenty of individual attention, they might just get along together.

So let’s find out together how cats and iguanas interact.

Can cats and iguanas be friends?

Cats and iguanas will likely never be best of friends, but with research, time, and dedication peaceful cohabitation can be achieved.

Cats and iguanas are like night and day. One is a cold-blooded reptile that loves warm places and lays eggs, while the other is a warm-blooded mammal that can be in almost any environment. 

With the two of them being different species of animals, size makes it hard for the two to be friends. Large iguanas can kill a kitten.

On the other hand, the size of the iguana can change how the cat perceives it. To a cat, an animal that is smaller than it is prey or a plaything. A larger animal is a predator, and animals that are roughly the same size are in the neutral area. Of course, this can vary, depending on the situation and how both animals feel towards one another.

Cats are predatory by nature, and small creatures that squiggle and squirm can excite a cat’s hunting senses. Smaller iguanas like the Pygmy Iguana will only be seen as prey in the eyes of a cat.

A larger iguana like the Melanesian Iguana, which can grow up to four feet long, would be better suited for the two species to get along.

Five reasons cats and iguanas should be separated

#1 Cat fur is unhealthy for iguanas

A cat’s fur can get everywhere. If you are the owner of one of these precious, furry creatures, this is something you know well. Having cat fur everywhere is not a good environment for an iguana.

Iguanas like to lick everything in their line of vision. They also have trouble with their digestive systems. Cat fur is something they will have trouble breaking down. Unlike cats, iguanas can not throw up hairballs. This can cause long-term health issues.

#2 Cat saliva is dangerous to reptiles

Cat saliva is harmful to reptiles. Cats carry multiple bad types of bacteria that can give your iguana a nasty infection. Some of these bacteria are Capnocytophaga, Pasteurella multocida, and Bartonella henselae.

Iguanas do not have a strong immune system and need to be protected from these bacteria. These bacteria will not only cause a nasty infection, but most times, it is a slow and painful one. Any cat saliva entering an iguana’s body can be detrimental to the iguana’s health.

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#3 Iguanas carry parasites and salmonella

Iguanas can carry parasites and salmonella that are harmful to cats. Reptiles can be the carriers of a parasite called, liver flukes that could be fatal to your cat.

Some signs of liver flukes are the following:

  • yellowing of the eyes
  • weight loss
  • swollen abdomen

Iguanas can also carry Salmonella. Salmonella isn’t as dangerous as liver flukes, but it can make your cat sick.

Some signs of Salmonella are the following:

  • Lethargy
  • Vomiting
  • diarrhea

If your small iguana has an unfortunate event of being consumed by your cat it can lead to the cat being sick or hospitalized. Some reptiles even carry enough venom to kill a dog or cat, keeping your pet from trying to play or fight with them.

#4 Cats are solitary

Cats are solitary by nature, meaning they love their alone time. This can make it hard for any animal, including other cats to become friends with them.

Does your cat suddenly groom itself when another person or animal enters the room? Do they retreat when other animals and people come around? Do they flick their tail back and forth when someone walks past them?

These can be signs your cat is nervous or anxious around other animals or people. This is something you need to consider before bringing an iguana or any animal as a pet into your home.

#5 Animals are unpredictable

All animals can be unpredictable, whether they are wild, domesticated, or feral. Animals including our loving pets run on pure instinct. Instinct is what leads their day-to-day lives.

A very well-trained pet can “snap” if its environment is changed. That “snap” is them reverting to what is ingrained in them, their instincts. No matter what you do to prevent them from being stressed when introducing them to one another, you may inadvertently trigger your pets’ instincts to defend themselves. 

Tips for successful cohabitation between cats and iguanas

If you already have a cat and iguana living in the same household, there are a few changes you will have to make to help your two pets be stress-free and happy.

Breed of animals

Before introducing a cat and iguana into the same home, research the different breeds.

A high-energy cat like the Bengal, Burmese, or Devon Rex may be too much for an iguana like the Northeastern Spiny Tail Iguana, which is very nervous and defensive.  

Consider the size of each breed of animal as well. Small iguanas like the Spiny-tailed Iguana shouldn’t be in a home that has a large Maine coon. The size difference would only put the iguana in danger.

Properly introduce your pets

The first thing to do is properly introduce the two pets. You can introduce the two by having them in their own spaces with a see-through divider in between. That way they can both see each other but have a level of safety. Continue to do this, until you see that each animal is comfortable with the other.

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Supervised Playtime

Supervised playtime is great for pets, especially when they are from two different species. Carefully watch them, and make sure one isn’t hurting the other. Keep your cat from chasing your iguana around, even if it’s just playfully. This can be very stressful for your lizard and even physically dangerous in some cases.

Carefully watch your cat around an iguana’s tail; iguanas can “release” their tail.  It is a defense mechanism they use when in a stressful or life-threatening situation. While iguanas can regenerate their tails, it is something that shouldn’t happen to your pet iguana. Regeneration happens with young iguanas, and they will not grow back the same size or color.

Provide plenty of stimulation

During supervised playtime or playing with your pets one-on-one, it’s good to give them an abundance of stimulation. Stimulating them with toys can help burn up a lot of energy. 

Toys like teasers and wands are great for cats. For your iguana, look into suspension bridges; they recreate the feeling of climbing on branches and through obstacles. You can even take your iguana on a walk to give it the stimulation and exercise it needs.

Provide each pet with their own space

Both iguanas and cats, no matter the size, require large amounts of individual space, which will be something to consider in your home.

Iguanas will need large, warm spaces to run. Some iguanas even like to be in water like small ponds.

Cats require a decent amount of space as well.  Some cats like to be up high, while others like to be in small enclosed spaces. So, look into catifying your space with some shelves or a cat tower.

Keep enclosures secure

Make sure your iguana’s enclosure is securely locked. Cats are curious by nature, you do not want your cat getting into your iguana’s space and harming it. Even if your cat doesn’t harm your iguana, it could leave cat fur and saliva which would make it sick. You also don’t want your iguana getting out and getting lost or leaving the home.

Consult with a veterinarian or professional pet trainer

One of the most important tips to consider is to consult with a vet or professional trainer. A vet or professional trainer can give you their honest and professional opinion on whether an iguana and cat together in the home is safe. They can also give you tips on what to do.

Conclusion

In conclusion, if you are thinking about having both a cat and an iguana in your home together, it is important to make sure they get along with each other.

Give each animal its own dedicated space, have supervised playtime, and try to get a cat and iguana breed that are compatible together. With a little elbow grease and coordination, cats and iguanas can get along and potentially live happily together.