Last updated on December 12th, 2021
Cats exhibit various behaviors that are intriguing to humans, but it’s often hard to distinguish fact from fiction when it comes to the eating habits of animals. From birds to insects to plants, cats have been known to nibble on things that come their way.
If your yard or pond has small turtles, probably, your curious feline creature has already noticed it, but do cats eat turtles?
Cats do eat turtles especially the smaller ones because they’re an easy target that can’t easily escape and their shells will be useless against these persistent predators, however, domestic cats won’t eat turtles because they’re not accustomed to attacking and eating prey in this manner.
Table of Contents
- Why Are Turtles in Danger When Cats Are Around?
- Do Cats Eat Baby Turtles?
- Do Cats Eat Turtle Eggs?
- How to Introduce Cats to Turtles?
- How to Protect Your Turtle from Cats?
- Tortoise Chases Cat Around The Backyard
- FAQ Roundup
Why Are Turtles in Danger When Cats Are Around?
Cats attack and eat turtles, especially the ones that are small in size.
Although it’s not very common for pet cats like yours to feed on turtles, if they see one, they’ll definitely attempt to eat it. This is more common for large cats rather than your little kitties.
For instance, if your home is near a large yard, a pond, or some other water body, your domestic cat will consider including turtles in their diet every once in a while.
But cats won’t base their diet wholly on turtles. They may only eat these shelled creatures at times for sport or to satisfy their hunting instincts.
But other than that, it’s not every day that our domestic cats would even get a chance to knock down turtles and gorge on them hungrily.
These feline creatures will generally break open the turtle’s hard bony shell first and then proceed with the delicious and soft turtle meat.
As mentioned above, the larger cats, especially those living in the wild, are more commonly found attacking and feeding on turtles.
A major portion of a wild cat’s diet includes these shelled reptiles when compared to domestic cats.
However, there are some tendencies within your feline friend sitting right next to you to catch and eat turtles.
No matter how loving, friendly, and cute your naughty kitty may look, they’ll still try to snack on small turtles if they find them around your house, in your backyard, or the nearby water pond.
So, if your sweet little furry friend suddenly starts running after something when you’re approaching a lake or a pond, there’s a good chance that your feline champ has spotted a turtle.
But what if you have pet turtles? You need to make sure both your pets are safe and healthy. Protect your turtles and train your cats not to harm them.
It’s not that cats always have the intention to eat or kill turtles whenever they catch them. They’ll only catch them for sport.
However, there’s always a good chance that your feline pet will bite or pounce on these poor fellows, especially if it’s a baby one.
For example, due to their small size when compared to cats, such attacks can injure them, leaving the reptile’s hands or legs damaged or even worse, a potential crack in its shell.
There’s one major reason why cats don’t find it adventurous enough to attack turtles – their slow movement.
Since turtles are one of the slowest moving animals on earth, cats won’t find the need to do any actual “chasing”.
Cats love stimulation and this would be one of their least stimulating activities.
They’re not having to run after turtles or hunt them down, which is why felines don’t prey on these shelled animals frequently.
But cats will surely kill, hurt, or eat turtles whenever they feel like it.
Due to the hunting instincts that they’ve inherited from their feline ancestors, cats love to hunt and prey on different animals that they find weak or small.
So, even if your kitty looks timid, affectionate, friendly, and harmless, they’ll always look for opportunities to hunt helpless animals and even kill them.
Do Cats Eat Baby Turtles?
Cats do eat baby turtles because they’re slow and vulnerable creatures with weak protective shells, and they accomplish this by penetrating the shell first to get to the turtle meat since their claws wouldn’t easily reach in through the small holes that the turtle’s hands and legs emerge from.
However, the reason is obvious, baby turtles are smaller than adult or full-grown turtles, which is why they’re much easier to eat.
So, if your feline pet comes across a baby turtle, the poor creature doesn’t stand a chance to escape or survive. It’s definitely going to be on the dinner menu for your little hunter.
Besides, the shells of small turtles are still developing which makes it’s easier for cats and other predators to crack them open.
The few cats that will eat turtles won’t eat the hard shell (they can’t even if they tried), however, they’re only concerned about the soft and tasty turtle meat.
It’ll definitely be a struggle for some cats to eat a turtle, especially when they’re inexperienced.
But most of us don’t want our feline pets to eat or harm other wildlife, especially when we have multiple pets in our home.
That’s why baby turtles are more fragile when compared to their older counterparts.
Hence, it’s not safe to leave your baby turtles unattended when your cat is around, even if you trained your feline friend well.
It’s difficult, if not impossible to curb the predatory instincts of your cat because they were born with it.
However, it’s not a good idea for your cat to include turtles in their diet, no matter whether it’s a baby turtle or a full-grown one.
The size of a turtle prey doesn’t really matter as it won’t make it any better or worse for your kitty to consume.
The next time you see your feline pet smacking around a turtle playfully, you need to know that the prey will most likely meet its fatal end.
Stop your pet right away and let the helpless turtle escape.
And if it’s your pet turtle, then you need to be extra careful about keeping your little reptiles away and well-protected from cats.
Do Cats Eat Turtle Eggs?
Cats can eat turtle eggshells because it consists of calcium, magnesium and very little protein which are all needed to supplement your cat’s diet, however, cats won’t eat these eggshells unless they’re broken down into bits and mixed into their regular food because it’s not tasty as a standalone item.
If cats find their way to turtle eggs, there’s a small chance that they’ll play with or eat them.
If the turtle eggs are from your own house, backyard, or pond, you don’t want them to get destroyed.
It’s difficult to figure out when your cat will hunt for turtle eggs or hatchlings and whether they’ll eat them for a quick snack.
However, if you find your cat digging the earth around your turtles’ resting place, then they’re probably looking for turtle eggs.
But playing with turtle eggshells will damage the egg and may ruin the unborn and growing life inside.
You’ll be surprised to know that your cat won’t always hunt for these eggs for a meal. They can pick them up simply for sport, such as for playing.
So, rather than looking at a turtle egg as a meal (because it has a hard shell, too), cats will take it as a cute little toy to play with and smack it around.
Fun fact: Some turtles and tortoises will lay hard-shelled eggs depending on the species.
How to Introduce Cats to Turtles?
The best time to introduce cats to turtles would be when they’re kittens because they can grow together with the turtle and become more acquainted with having them around.
However, here are nine simple ways that you can introduce a turtle to your cat:
- Prepare a separate area for your soon-to-be pet turtle.
- Allow your cat to tour the spot so they can sniff out the things being brought into the area
- Play turtle sounds to get your cat familiar with how they sound (see video below).
- Place your turtle inside of a cage in the prepared area that they’ll be resting in.
- Allow your cat to sit on your lap while holding and petting him to remain calm while the turtle moves about in the area.
- Exchange food containers so that your cat can become familiar with the turtle’s scent and vice versa.
- When you’re not around, ensure that the turtle is placed in a cage for safety
- Continue supervising their interactions.
- You can also rub a cloth or towel to capture the scent of the turtle and place it where the cat normally rests.
At first, it’s safe to introduce each other when the weaker animal is protected in a cage, pet house, or enclosed area.
Observe how the two animals interact with each other for a few weeks to check whether it’s safe to let them play together.
But try not to intervene unless you notice something serious is going to happen, such as your cat trying to harm or smack the turtle.
Other than such tendencies, there are many cases in which turtles and cats learn to coexist healthily.
How to Protect Your Turtle from Cats?
To protect your turtles from your cats, you can simply place your pet turtle inside of a wooden animal hutch or large reptile tank habitat to protect them from being attacked by cats or other predators.
In addition to that, you should also supervise both animals closely.
Even if you notice your pets playing with each other happily without any tendencies of harming one another, you still need to observe them because it’s not entirely safe to leave them unattended.
Because cats are born with hunting instincts, they can get aggressive at any time.
Some pet owners say that cats like turtles and love to watch them move around. In fact, we all love turtles and their cute movements.
But that doesn’t mean your cat won’t showcase and apply their hunting skills to them.
If both of the animals are adults, healthy interactions may exist between the two.
In short, turtles can be entertaining for cats, and they’ll watch them for hours!
Tortoise Chases Cat Around The Backyard
Tortoises are timid and fragile creatures, at least, that’s what I thought until I saw this video of a tortoise chasing a domestic cat around the backyard.