Should A Sugar Glider Live Together With A Cat?

Glider meets Whiskers. Welcome to the grand finale of mischief.
Should A Sugar Glider Live Together With A Cat?

As an owner of multiple pets, you may wonder if sugar gliders and cats can live together happily under one roof. After all, both animals are endearing and playful companions. However, there are some important considerations to keep in mind before attempting to house sugar gliders and cats together. They are as follows:

1. Size Difference

To start, the size difference between a sugar glider and a cat is significant. Adult sugar gliders typically weigh only 80 to 160 grams, while most domestic cats weigh between 4 to 6 kilograms. Due to this major size discrepancy, a cat could easily injure or kill a sugar glider, even if it was playing gently with it. Their hunting instincts may also kick in, which is obviously a risk to the sugar glider. For the safety of the glider, they should never be left unsupervised with a cat outside of a secure enclosure.

Should A Sugar Glider Live Together With A Cat?

2. Diet

It is important to note that sugar gliders and cats have vastly different dietary needs, which should be taken into account when housing these animals in the same household. Proper nutrition is necessary for the health and well-being of both species, and understanding their unique dietary requirements can also prevent potential health issues.

Sugar Glider Diet

Sugar gliders are omnivores, consuming a variety of foods in the wild, including nectar, fruit, insects, and tree sap. A balanced diet for a sugar glider should include:

  • A nectar substitute, such as homemade nectar or a commercially available sugar glider nectar mix
  • Fresh fruits and vegetables, such as apples, pears, grapes, and leafy greens
  • Protein sources, like insects (e.g., mealworms, crickets), boiled eggs, or a commercial sugar glider protein powder
  • A calcium supplement to ensure proper bone health and prevent bone degeneration
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Cat Diet

Cats, on the other hand, are obligate carnivores, meaning they require a diet primarily made up of animal-based protein to function properly. A balanced diet for a cat should include:

  • High-quality, commercially available cat food, either wet or dry, that is formulated to meet the nutritional needs of your cat’s life stage (kitten, adult, or senior)
  • Animal-based protein sources, such as chicken, fish, or beef
  • Amino acids, like taurine and arginine, which are essential for a cat’s health and can be found in meat-based cat foods
  • Limited amounts of treats, as excessive treats can contribute to obesity
  • Please note: cats should not be fed a vegetarian or vegan diet, as they require very specific nutrients found that are only in animal-based protein sources to maintain their health.

Given the above differences in diet, housing them together could make it difficult to monitor how much each animal is eating and if they are getting the nutrients they need. You will need to be very organized and plan their meals ahead of time.

3. Natural Instincts

Sugar Gliders
Sugar gliders are small, nocturnal marsupials that live in colonies and have a strong need for companionship. In the wild, sugar gliders are arboreal, spending most of their time in trees, gliding between them in search of food.

Cats
Cats, on the other hand, are domesticated carnivores with strong predatory instincts. They are skilled hunters, using their sharp senses and stealth to stalk and capture prey. While cats can form social bonds with other animals, their natural instincts to hunt and chase smaller creatures can pose a risk to sugar gliders.

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4. Disease Transmission

Both sugar gliders and cats can carry diseases that could potentially be transmitted between species. For example, cats can carry bacteria such as Bordetella bronchiseptica, which can cause respiratory infections in sugar gliders.

Despite the significant challenges, some pet owners have found success keeping sugar gliders and cats together harmoniously. The keys to this is proper introduction, close supervision, and providing separate living spaces for each animal to retreat to.

Tips & Recommendations

1. If you want to attempt housing sugar gliders and cats together, start by keeping them in separate rooms at first so they can get used to each other’s scents. After a week or two of controlled, supervised introductions, you can allow them in the same room together while keeping the sugar gliders in their enclosure. Never leave them unsupervised during this introduction period. Watch out for any signs of stress or aggression in either animal. If there are issues, go back to keeping them separate and try supervised introductions again in a month or two.

2. Once they appear comfortable in the same room together, you can try short periods of supervised interaction outside of the enclosure. As they get accustomed to each other, you may be able to grant them more access. However, the sugar gliders should still sleep in their enclosure at night for their safety. Proper precautions need to continue even after they seem to get along.

3. Make sure the sugar glider enclosure is very secure and impossible for a cat to break into. A wire mesh or grill top is best, as cats can chew through wood and some plastics. The enclosure should be made of a sturdy material and securely locked when the sugar gliders are inside.

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4. Never leave the sugar glider enclosure open or unlocked when the cat has access to the room. The cat’s curiosity and predatory nature may get the best of it, putting the sugar gliders in danger.

5. Provide multiple litter boxes, scratching posts, hiding spots, and toys for your cat so it has plenty of options for relief and play that do not involve the sugar gliders. Rotating through different options will help keep things interesting for your cat.

6. Make sure each animal has their own separate sleeping and eating areas. Do not keep the food or sleeping spots in the same location, even if a barrier separates them. This helps create distinctive spaces for each animal.

7. Both animals should be spayed or neutered to minimize territorial and aggressive behaviors. Intact animals will be more likely to show negative behavior towards each other.

8. Provide multiple cat trees, hiding spots, and interactive toys to keep your cat stimulated so it doesn’t pounce on the sugar gliders out of boredom or prey drive. Be sure to play with your cat daily. Puzzle feeders and treat dispensing toys for the cat can also keep it occupied when you are not playing with it.

9. Accept that some cats and sugar gliders may simply never get along no matter how slowly you introduce them. Do not force the issue if either animal remains chronically stressed or aggressive when together. Their wellbeing should be the top priority.

While sugar gliders and cats can live together harmoniously for many pet owners, close supervision and management are always needed to ensure the safety of these very different animals under one roof. If at any time, you feel that one or both animals are chronically stressed or in danger, separate them at once. With time and patience, is possible for a cat and sugar glider to become compadres, but their individual needs and instincts must be respected.

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