Undoubtedly, ferrets & cats are among the most popular pets people love keeping as companions. They share many similarities, including nutritional requirements. However, if you are confused about which will work best for you or your family’s requirements, this article is for you.
In this article, we will talk about seven differences between ferrets and cats to help you determine which suits your preference, budget & companionship. Here, we’ll discuss an in-depth comparison between ferrets vs. cats’ appearance, dietary requirements, behavior, lifespan, and care needs. So, without wasting time, let’s learn it.
Ferret Vs Cat: 7 Key Differences
Ferret vs. Cat Size
Regarding the size comparison of ferrets & cats, cats appear bigger than ferrets. A ferret is likely to be around 18-20 inches long, including its tail, whereas cats grow up to 28 inches if male & 20 inches if female on average. Talking about weights, cats are heavier & bulkier than ferrets.
The pet ferret weighs around 1.5-4.4 lb, whereas a household cat’s weight is likely around lbs. However, Britannica suggests that nonpedigreed cats can also weigh up to 28 pounds, which is not uncommon. Talking about ferrets, Wikipedia suggests that they are sexually dimorphic, and the males are considerably larger than females.
Ferret Vs. Cat Appearance
Have you ever noticed a cat walking without any sound when hunting? If yes, then you might wonder how this is so. International Cat Care suggests cats have protected digits on their pad, which further helps reduce sound when hunting in the Wild. On the other hand, the ferret is likely to make some noise when walking.
The ferret has a long, narrow body of 22-46 CM and short legs. On the other hand, a cat is likely to have five digits on her front feet, with four on the hinds.
Regarding the colors, ferrets will likely come in a dark brown to black with yellow underfur. They will also have longer black tip guard hairs. On the other hand, cats can develop a range of court colors even in natural conditions. This adaptation helps them camouflage & assists their hunting lifestyle for survival in the Wild. Like cheetahs, cats also have retractable claws, which isn’t surprising.
The Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries suggests that the tail of a ferret will be black & bushy; in contrast, the National Institute of Health suggests that cat tails usually consist of 6 muscles on both sides, which come straight up when they are happy or willing to be friendly. The cat’s tail is likely 9.9-11 inches long, whereas ferrets only have a 1-14 cm tail.
Ferret vs. Cat Food & Diet
Regarding the similarities between ferrets and cat diets, they are said to be obligate carnivores. It also means that their diet should always rely on nutrients frequently found in animal products. Also, People’s Dispensary for Sick Animals suggests that the best diet for ferrets must be as natural as possible because their short gut quickly turns food into energy.
On the other hand, cafes also evolved as hunters and consumed prey containing high amounts of protein with moderate fat. A cat’s diet must contain as few carbohydrates and fiber as possible. According to the veterinary partner, ferrets, on the other hand, require a diet with at least 30-35% protein and 15-30% fat with low fiber.
Many people think that ferrets can also eat kitten food as it tends to be very high in meat protein content. Well, this is somewhat true, and we have also shared an in-depth article on the best cat food for ferrets, but adding additional fat is recommended.
To know more about diet, check my guide on the best kibble for ferrets & homemade ferret food. Conversely, the Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine suggests that cats need dozens of other nutrients, including vitamins, minerals, fatty acids, and amino acids. Fortunately, there are also many specialized diet formulas commercially available for ferrets that provide each specific nutrient to keep them healthy.
Supplement & Treats
Regarding supplementary requirements, you should avoid giving any to your ferret as it can be harmful without a veterinarian’s approval. The same goes for ferrets, too. Treats, on the other hand, are good for both pets, occasionally in moderation. You can also feed eggs to your ferrets & cats, which is true protein and fat. On the other hand, we’ve shared a guide on homemade ferret treats to check.
Ferret Vs. Cat Intelligence & Behavior
Talking about the intelligence levels of ferrets & cats, both are incredible. As Pet Keen suggests, ferrets are brilliant creatures with problem-solving skills. On the other hand, cats have these skills but can learn many things and respond to their name. A cat can also tell the difference between the voice of a stranger & a familiar voice, whereas ferrets’ memories are strong, assisting them to recognize their owners. Even though ferrets don’t fall in the top 10 most animals on earth like caf, they can be exceptional pets with big personalities.
Nature & Behaviour
However, the National Centre for the Replacement, Refinement, and Reproduction of Animals in Research found that ferrets are more docile than cats, who still retain most of their natural and instinctive behavior. Like cats, my ferret is also not afraid of humans and can be a lovely, playful, and curious pet. What I like about ferrets is that they are not very persistent like cats when they want something. However, when nursing, ferrets can be very aggressive & protective of their young ones. Therefore, breeding cats is far easier than c
Many people choose cats over ferrets because they can recognize their owner’s emotions like fear, anger, happiness, and sadness, which ferrets can’t.
Ferret Vs. Cat Lifespan
When having a pet, you always want a long companion. According to Oxbow Animal Health, a pet ferret can live around 5-7 years on average, whereas a cat has a long life of around 13-14 years. However, Cat Care For Life suggests that the lifespan of a cat will vary depending on the care you give.
Lifespan of Well-Cared Ones
Commonly, well-cared-for cats live up to 15 years or beyond. On the other hand, ferrets can also live up to 10 years or more with a healthy activity level, proper diet, and routine care.
Longest Live Record
According to the Vetcare Pet Hospital, the current record for the oldest ferret is said to be 14 years old. On the other hand, we have also witnessed some extraordinary felines passing 25-35 years of age when fed right and cared for properly.
Ferret vs. Cat Fight: Who Would Win Ferret Or Cat?
If you’re curious to know who would win, a ferret or a cat in a fight, then a cat will likely have an advantage from the onset. Cats are larger with depressible sickle claws and superior eyesight. Hence, they can easily out a ferret. However, it doesn’t mean a ferret will not perform a spirited defense. They will give their best but as an ambush Predator.
Ferret Vs. Cat As Pet & Care
Talking about what pet is better to keep at home, between a cat and a ferret, I feel both are the best but not for everyone.
If you are looking for an affectionate companion who can free roam in your room, I will advise you to go with the cats. Ferrets are said to be very smelly creatures, especially if they are not descended, and letting them free roam will leave the rooms smelly.
Also, you can provide outdoor access to cats, which isn’t the case with ferrets, an escape artist who can run away if given a chance.
Ferrets are exotic pets compared to common domestic cats. Below are a few care needs for both pets.
- Bed: Both pets need a comfortable bed to sleep in. However, RSPCA suggests that a healthy ferret can sleep 18-20 hours daily.
- Grooming: A ferret also requires frequent grooming to keep up with their scent, whereas cats are fine with weekly grooming.
- Vet Attention: Both pets will require vet attention, but the vet cost is higher for ferrets. We’ve shared an in-depth guide on ‘how much do ferret vet bills cost,’ which gives about the annual vet budget you should have.
- Accessories: You’ll need a food bowl, water dish, toys, litter box, and meaty diet for both pets
- Care Issue: Ferrets come with a smell that they use to hunt & communicate with each other, which isn’t the case with cats. In the case of pet ferrets, it’s advisable to install an air purifier. That said, check my guide on the best air purifier for ferrets.
Cats can live in free roam, which isn’t true with ferrets. As Vetcare Pet Hospital suggests, a ferret needs 18×18×30 inches sized cages with two or more levels, consisting of stairs & ramps, to climb and enjoy the joy of their energy.
Both pets, ferrets & cats, are good at keeping rodents and other pests at bay while reducing stress on you.
Companionship & Sociability
Regarding companionship, ferrets need more companionship than cats, who do well when left alone. However, ferrets must live in pairs or groups as they’re highly sociable.
Are Ferrets Better Than Cats?
Both make incredible pets, but many suggest cats are better than ferrets. This is because cats are independent compared to ferret, which needs frequent attention or group to live happily. If you are looking for a single pet, cats will be easier than ferrets to care for and to build companionship with.
Is Owning A Ferret Like Owning A Cat?
To many people, the pet ferret is very similar to cats. Ferrets have been domesticated for over 2000 years for their high intelligence & social nature. A cat, however, will be much easier to care for than ferrets, no matter how small and easy to care for this pocket seems. Ferrets are a big responsibility and need more care than cats or dogs.
Both ferrets and cats are popular pets, but they have very different personalities, needs, and care requirements. Choosing between them depends on your lifestyle and preferences! Here’s a breakdown to help you decide:
Here’s a table summarizing the key differences:
|Playful, energetic, curious
|Large cage, daily playtime, specific diet
|Scratching post, litter box, toys
|Requires daily interaction, challenging to litter train
|Can be a concern
|Can be a concern
I hope now you have a brief Idea of which pets are best and what’s the difference. If you are looking for a single pet, I highly advise you to go with the cats, as they are easier to care for and can be left alone for hours. Also, if you spend most of your daytime outdoors, get a cat over a cat ferret. A ferret will require more care from their owner than a cat. After reading this article, I hope you know the difference between a ferret and a cat.
If you find this article helpful, then share this. Your share will help many people learn about seven key differences between ferrets and cats and help them make an informed decision, especially when choosing a companion for themselves or their family. If you are looking to adopt a ferret, I will advise you to check my other helpful guides shared on this website on ferret care & requirements that you need to keep up with. See you in the next post, till then, take care, and goodbye.