Cats are naturally attracted to fish and the two may have a coexistence problem if you don’t cat-proof your aquarium. Fish appear as prey to cats since they (cats) have predatory instincts. The first thing they feel when around a fish tank is how to get in and hunt them. As a result, you must develop a method of making your fish tank more cat-proof and protect your fish from getting preyed upon by your other pet.

Cat-proof your fish tank by placing a tight lid over it, changing the tank’s location, distracting the cat, covering the whole tank, training your cat to avoid the fish tank, or locking the door. There are cat-proof fish tanks that won’t allow the cat to access the fish or even topple the tank over.

Why Do Cats Attack Fish?

Cats are naturally curious, playful, and inquisitive. The colorful fish in your aquarium is likely to attract the cat to play on it while attempting to reach out and hunt them. Both animals have a hunter-prey relationship, where the cat exhibits their predatory nature and fish remain on the receiving end as the helpless prey.

Your cat’s curiosity may also activate their need to closely examine the fish inside your aquarium. The colorful display of swimming fish such as goldfish and bettas and their beautiful flowing fins can bring out the playful nature of your cat. Additionally, if you’re fond of feeding them with live or frozen fish, the cat might not differentiate your pet fish from what they ate earlier.

Regardless of how domesticated your cat is, its hunting instincts remain active when they encounter animals below them in the food chain. If you want to keep both pets in a peaceful environment, you must put up the relevant security measures such as cat proofing your fish tank.

How to Cat-Proof Your Fish Tank

You can cat-proof your fish tank by placing a tight lid over it, changing the tank’s location, distracting the cat, covering the whole tank, training your cat to avoid the fish tank, or locking the door.

Place a Lid Over Your Fish Tank

As a cat owner, select a fish tank that can be fitted with a lid. Cats climb on high spaces and may access the top of your fish tank. To prevent this, you can purchase an aquarium that has a lid and keep it sealed whenever the cat is around. Even when you’re taking care of goldfish in a bowl, find a lid for the bowl as well.

Your cat gets excited by the sight of swimming fish in the aquarium and can climb to the surface to distract them. Likewise, your fish can also jump out of the tank when moving rapidly near the top or when the water is too full. A covered fish tank prevents such cases and can also be an added advantage to your aquarium plants’ growth if it has LED lights. 

Change the Tank’s Location

Despite the beauty they bring, sometimes moving your tank from the living room may be your only chance to save them from the predatory nature of your cat. You can put the aquarium in a more secure part of your house where their contact with the cat is limited.

If moving the aquarium is too cumbersome, you should consider finding a different spot for your cat, away from the fish tank. This reduces their interaction and the cat may be occupied with other activities. Take your cat’s litter tray, scratching post, bed, and feeding plate away to a separate room and help it adapt to the new location.

Cover the Whole Aquarium

If you have limited room or are unable to separate your cat from the fish tank, you can put a translucent cover over your fish tank. This makes your fish tank’s display less colorful, minimizing the chances of drawing your cat’s attention. 

You can take off the cover when the cat’s away or occupied with other activities. A soft towel or blanket makes a good cover, and you can adopt this routine until your cat stops showing interest in the fish tank.

Keep the Door Locked

If your cat walks into the room where you’ve kept the aquarium and starts distracting your fish, you should consider driving them out of the room and locking the door. Continue with the routine each time until they understand that the room is out of bounds for them. You should always remember to lock the door when going out to prevent damage.

Train Your Cat to Avoid the Fish Tank

Similar to other lessons such as potty training, you can teach your cat to avoid the fish tank. Show them by gestures and talk to them, explaining why they shouldn’t go near the aquarium. You can reward them with a treat whenever they oblige and keep the routine until they are fully conditioned.

Paint Your Aquarium with Glue or Sticky Substance

Most pet supply stores have products like Sticky Paws that you can use to make your cat uncomfortable when in contact with the fish tank. Cats dislike surfaces that are sticky, and fitting a tape all over the aquarium is the best way to manage the situation. 

If their paws stick to the surface the first time, they’ll learn to keep off the fish tank due to the fear of losing their sensation. The sticky substances also interfere with their playtime, a luxury they may not want to give up next time. This teaches them to stay away from the tank.

When using this method on a small fish tank, you should stay close and detach your cat from the surface after getting stuck. This prevents the tank or fishbowl from falling over and causing worse damage.

Keep Your Cat Distracted

A simple way to keep your cat away from the fish tank is by distracting them with other activities. You can initiate a game they like or use motorized toys they can chase after. Keep the cat’s toys in strategic positions so that they can bump into them each time they consider going near the fish tank, a tactic that’ll keep them more occupied than the aquarium.

Diverting the cat’s attention from your aquarium keeps them active with less dangerous games while saving your fish from distress caused when paws tap on the tank surface. A cat stressing out the fish can lead to bettas turning white if not controlled.

Get a Virtual Fish Tank

A virtual fish tank on a TV screen can divert the attention of your fish from the real one and keep them mentally stimulated in the virtual fish actions. There are multiple applications and sites offering aquarium entertainment, designed to keep your fish grounded in that direction. Given the exciting action, your fish may have little use for the actual fish tank across the room.

Are There Cat-Proof Fish Tanks?

There are many brands of cat-proof fish tanks you can purchase to maintain a healthy relationship between your feline and aquatic pets. They come in different sizes, shapes, and models and help prevent cases such as having ripped betta fish fins.

These tanks are made from a sturdy mixture of acrylic material as opposed to the traditional glass aquariums. Your cat remains restricted from swiping on the surface and making sounds with its paws. They also come with an inbuilt filtration system.

Additionally, cat-proof fish tanks have a lid you can keep fit and prevent the cat from scooping the fish with its paws. BiOrb aquarium is an example of cat proof fish tank with these features and you can buy it for your fish’s safety around the cat. With this tank taking care of goldfish and other pet fish is easy as you won’t worry about cats tampering with the fish.


Fish and cats have a prey-predator relationship exhibited through the cat’s attempts to take the fish out of the aquarium whenever they are in the same room. This is dangerous for your fish as they can suffer distress, injuries, or infections caused by the dirty water contaminated by your cat’s paws. 

However, you can prevent this by cat-proofing your fish tank through the listed methods and monitoring the two pets closely at all times. For a permanent solution, you can purchase a fish-proof tank specifically designed to prevent the cat’s activities from distracting your fish.


Kansas State University. Dogs, Cats, and Birds, Oh My! Factoring Pet Costs into a Family Budget.

University of Illinois. Bettas Need More Than Bowls.

Reed College. Pets & Animal Guidelines.

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