Are bearded dragons safe around cats? Do they get along? Maybe you’ve seen the cute photos online of a cat and a bearded dragon having a cuddly moment, and it’s got you thinking about expanding your pet family (or introducing the two pets you have).
We’ll cover the basics so you know the best way to allow your cat and bearded dragon to interact, including behaviors to look out for so you can keep both your cat and your dragon happy and safe.
Do Cats and Bearded Dragons Get Along?
A lot of curious pet owners want to know if cats and bearded dragons get along. Before this question can be answered accurately, however, it’s important to figure out what exactly we’re asking—because the question can mean a few different things.
So which question below are you trying to answer?
- If you want to know: Do cats and bearded dragons coexist well (meaning, is it feasible to have both as pets)? The answer is, yes!
- If you’re really asking: Can my dragon and cat safely interact while I hold my bearded dragon the entire time? The answer is, maybe! It’s possible! (You have to follow some guidelines, which we discuss later in this post.)
- But if you’re asking: Can my bearded dragon and cat play with each other while they are both roaming free? Well…we have to say no on this one. You really might want to avoid that scenario. We'll explain why shortly.
Should Cats and Bearded Dragons Play Together?
There’s a difference between letting your pets play together, “free range” style, vs just getting them used to each other’s presence or helping them interact from a safe distance. If you really want to let your cat and bearded dragon interact or “play together,” we strongly recommend holding on to your dragon (and possibly your cat) the entire time.
Here are the main reasons we don’t recommend letting your cat and bearded dragon play together “free range” style.
- Both animals are solitary. Although cats can develop bonds with people and other animals, they are solitary creatures at the core. The same goes for bearded dragons. They really don’t need to play with each other to have a fulfilling life.
- Danger. There are risks involved when both pets interact. Your dragon may bite your cat, for example. Your cat may seriously injure or kill your bearded dragon if she decides it’s time to play or hunt.
- Cats are natural predators. A.k.a. hunters. If you’ve ever seen your kitty track down and kill a mouse, you know this is true. And that’s why your cat can be a serious threat to your bearded dragon. Her natural instinct can kick in at any time.
How to Safely Introduce Your Bearded Dragon and Cat
While we don’t advise letting your pets have a free for all in your living room, we do recommend getting your pets used to each other’s presence to avoid unnecessary stress for them (and you).
Here’s how to do that:
- At first, just let your cat and bearded dragon look at each other through the glass.
- Once your dragon and cat are used to each other’s existence, then you might decide it’s time to arrange an interaction.
Here’s how to make sure that interaction goes as smoothly as possible:
- First, make sure your cat is calm and maybe a bit tired to try to minimize the chance of her getting over excited and attacking your dragon.
- Second, cradle your dragon in your arms and let your cat do a little sniffing. Depending on your cat’s personality, it may be wise to have somebody hold your cat. (In fact, regardless of your cat’s personality, this may be a good idea for the initial interaction.)
- Please keep an eye out for aggressive behavior or signs that your cat is going to attack. Your dragon may get seriously hurt and you might end up scratched.
- Just let your cat and dragon be around each other for a little while, as long as you feel is appropriate.
- Stop the interaction if your cat or dragon acts out or seems really stressed.
- Have another person present to remove your cat from the room if necessary.
It’s true that lots of cat owners do let their dragon play with their cat without holding on to one or both of the pets. To be honest, this is risky. If you decide to do this, it's important to understand the risks and figure out if it’s really worth it to you.
As much as you might wish your dragon and cat were naturally social creatures, they aren’t...and sometimes nature just takes over.
Pro Tip: Don’t let your cat roam unsupervised in the room where you keep your dragon’s terrarium.
Bearded Dragon and Cat Interactions: Things to Watch Out For
Regardless of the type of interaction between your pets, always supervise and look out for any of the following red flags:
- Hunting. Does your cat look like she’s about to pounce on your dragon? Crouching, glaring at him with an ominous gaze? If you see this behavior, it’s time to remove your cat from the room.
- Climbing. If your cat is roaming near your dragon’s terrarium, she might jump on the terrarium, burn herself on the heater, topple the enclosure, open the lid, or any number of problems.
- Stress. Know the signs of stress in your bearded dragon and cat, and remove them from the situation if they are upset. Nobody wins if your pets are just stressing each other out!
Takeaway: It’s definitely possible to have both a cat and a bearded dragon as pets in the same household. While they should not play together, they can interact in a highly supervised environment.