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Pet Rats/Rat attacking cats

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Question
Hello!

I have 2 younger (less than a year old) female rats, and we also have several cats. I try to keep a blanket over the top and sides of the rat cage, to keep it a bit protected from drafts and cats, but the rats keep yanking it inside the cage. The cats don't try to hurt the rats, just like to sit and watch, but the youngest rat gets very violent. She lunges at the cat, hissing and swiping, and if a cat is foolish enough to get close enough, she will bite. It's only taken a few times for the cats to realize it's safest to stay away.

I'm worried that this may be causing much stress to my rats, but my bedroom door cannot be shut (I have an inbred cat that hides in my room, because the others will attack him randomly). I've tried putting up barriers, but the rats have made it abundantly clear that they want the cage to be 'open'. Do you have any advice?

Also, the youngest rat has this awkward habit of running right up to my ear, sticking her muzzle in my ear, and grinding her teeth. Is this normal? Is there a way to kindly discourage it? Because those whiskers tickle!!

Thank you for your time!

Answer
Hi Amanda,
Probably the interactions with the cats are not causing too much stress to your rats. I would be worried if they were hiding from the rats. I assume you let your rats out to play when the cats are not around?

The way to discourage your rat from poking her nose in your ear, is to squeak as if it hurts you. Do the squeak right before she gets to your ear.
Deb

Pet Rats

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Debbie Ducommun

Expertise

I can answer any questions about pet rats, but you will probably be able find answers to simple questions more quickly on my website at www.ratfanclub.org/helpfinfo.html. If you have a life-threatening emergency you can try calling me at 530-899-0605. I am not usually on the computer on the weekend.

Experience

I have been "The Rat Lady" since 1985 and am recognized as one of the world's experts on pet rats. I have 3 published books and already answer lots of questions about rats daily.

Organizations
President of Rat Assistance & Teaching Society

Publications
I am a monthly columnist for Pet Business magazine, and my writing has appeared in other magazines. I have 3 published books.

Education/Credentials
BA in Animal Behavior

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