Cat-Proofing Your Fish Tank: How to Protect Your Fish from a Curious Kitty

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By cat-proofing your fish tank, your fish and kitty can live together in harmony. Protecting an aquarium from cats will allow you to enjoy the company of both your feline and fishy friends. Here's how.

Predator and Prey

Cats are mischievous by nature. Cats big and small share the instinct to hunt and attack. This is why even a docile indoor cat will catch a mouse who makes the unfortunate mistake of sneaking into your home.

Cats are attracted to fish for the same reason they love mice. Simply stated, cats are predators and little fish are prey. The flowing, graceful movements of a fish are relaxing and soothing for you to watch, but to a cat they signal it's time to spring into action and catch a snack.

Cat-Proofing Your Fish Tank

Protecting an aquarium from cats requires a cat-proof tank and deterring your cat from getting to the tank.

Choosing a Tank

If your kitty and fish share the same space, steer clear of open-top aquariums like a traditional fishbowl. Brown and white cat sits on top of a fishtank with goldfish pawing at the glass.A tank with a hard lid will best protect your fish from peckish intruders. Make sure the lid securely fastens to the tank so a prying cat won't be able to remove it.

Keeping Kitty Away

Given the power and force with which a cat can leap, even placing a fish tank on a high bookshelf or ledge won't necessarily keep them from reaching it. Cats are capable of jumping up to six times their own height with grace and pinpoint accuracy, as originally reported by to National Geographic.

If your cat reaches the tank, they could cause it to fall and break. They could also fall themselves or get stuck. As Scientific American explains, cats' backward-facing claws enable them to climb up tall objects but can make it hard for them to get down.

The good news? You can deter your cat from jumping onto the high surface where your fish tank is located by keeping it clear of any food — including human food, fish food and cat food. You can also try sticking double-sided tape, aluminum foil or a textured shelf liner on the surface the tank sits on. Cats dislike these materials' textures so your kitty will learn to avoid the tank if it's surrounded by them. You can take extra precautions by attaching any of these materials to the fish tank lid to discourage your cat from trying to open it. Just be sure not to cover up any air holes that are essential to your fish's well-being.

There's an App for That

Another option is to distract your cat with a virtual fish tank, so they won't be as interested in your real one. You can provide your cat with the interactive entertainment they crave with apps or TV programs designed specifically for cats. When they're mentally stimulated, your kitty is a lot less likely to get into mischief.

Now that you have tips in hand to protect your fish from your kitty's sneaking ways, you can enjoy the company of both species.

Contributor Bio

Christine O'Brien

Christine O'Brien

Christine Brovelli-O'Brien, Ph.D., is a professional member of the Cat Writers' Association (CWA), a STEAM educator, and a devoted cat parent. She writes about pets, education, and STEM-y stuff. Find and follow her on Instagram and Twitter @brovelliobrien