Some pet parents greatly underestimate how strong their cat’s predatory instincts can be in the presence of small geckos. Even the gentlest of cats have proven themselves to be quite vicious and relentless hunters, preying on vulnerable pet geckos.
Is it time to rehome your cat? Or can you keep it while ensuring your gecko’s safety?
To keep a gecko safe from cats, the owner can:
- Deter cats from the tank
- Block off the gecko from the cat
- Upgrade the tank
- Secure the tank
- Separate geckos from cats
- Entertain the cat
- Train the cat
All hope is not lost—you can make sure your gecko stays safe in a house with cats and other bigger pets, without having to give up any of your beloved babies. But if you want to make your cat leave the gecko tank alone, don’t use cucumbers. Use citrus fruits instead. Read on to find out more!
Using and placing simple but safe cat deterrents on and around the gecko tank—when your cat no longer or does not respond to positive reinforcement training—can help keep the nosy kitty away [1, 2].
How can cat deterrents effectively stop your gecko from going near the gecko tank?
Teaching a cat not to go near a gecko can be accomplished by associating the location with deterrents. After some time, the cat will become conditioned to avoid the area near the tank to avoid the aversive object or occurrence.
Once the deterrent becomes effectively associated with the area, your cat will continue staying away from the gecko tank even if the deterrent is no longer present—with or without your constant surveillance .
These 11 setups can be used to keep cats away from geckos:
- Spray bottles
- Foil strips/sheets
- Plastic bags
- Adhesive tapes
- Egg crates
- Scat mats
- Air dusters
- Strong spices/seasonings
- Citrus fruits
- Fragrant plants
- Scented wax cubes
Continue reading below to learn how to use them properly to get your cats to leave the gecko tanks alone.
A simple spray bottle filled with clean water has worked quite well for some cats—just give them a good squirt if they try to go near the gecko tank.
I have heard a few pet parents mixing some soap, vinegar, or fruit juices into it too with pretty good results.
Unfortunately, the cat may associate the spray bottle as well as being squirted with you instead of the gecko tank. Many gecko keepers have frustratingly experienced this, their cat only behaves when they are around but kicks up a fuss once they’re not.
Commonly, this happens when cats see that you are the one constantly squirting them. So you have to be very stealthy when using the spray bottle with your kitty and aim from different positions.
You can also find sprayers that are automatically activated by motion sensors to circumvent this potential issue.
Interestingly, cats don’t find walking on or laying down on tin or aluminum foils pleasant because of the sound it produces—crinkling—and how it feels on their paws and skin.
You don’t have to cover the entire tank or top with the foil for it to effectively deter cats from the gecko. Just cut up a few strips or small sheets of foil and scatter it around the tank and on the lid. Doing otherwise could cause your gecko’s temps and humidity levels to spike horribly.
If your cat has a habit of jumping onto a certain point on or near the gecko tank, placing aluminum or foil pans filled with beans, coins, or any other items that would produce noise is also effective.
Place the filled pans so that it is balancing on the edge. The moment your cat bumps into it, the pan will fall and send the things inside clattering to the floor.
Likewise, cats seem to dislike the sounds and texture of plastic bags so they avoid them.
Some acquaintances have shared that placing an upside-down mouse trap glued to the underside of the plastic bag makes it more effective as a cat deterrent for gecko tanks.
The moment your cat steps on the plastic, the mousetrap will be triggered—causing it to snap abruptly and move the plastic.
Your cat will definitely be startled by this, more so if it doesn’t catch sight of the mouse trap underneath. This action, repeated a few times, might be an effective deterrent as the cat will associate the unwanted situation (being scared) with approaching the tank.
Placing strips of double-sided clear tape can also greatly discourage any persistent cat from trying to get to the gecko. Stick it around the perimeter of the tank and on the edges of the top.
I’m unsure of the exact reason, it just seems that cats just hate having sticky things on their body. It immediately prompts them into grooming themselves in an effort to get rid of the sticky material and its residue.
Got any clear packaging tape lying around the house? Those will do too. Just keep replacing the strips once it gets ripped off by your cats.
Some people recommend duct tape but that is harder to get off your cat and may cause significant hair loss. Moreover, in the unlikely event that your gecko escapes, it could get caught on the tape and be left more vulnerable to cat attacks.
Similar to foils, plastic, and tape, cats don’t seem to appreciate the experience of walking on top of egg crates—both the plastic and cardboard type.
I have yet to find a scientific explanation for why cats dislike it but my guess is that it’s because parts of it give due to their weight. They might not feel safe walking on it.
Again, to use it as a deterrent, just place it on top or around the tank. You could use it whole or in smaller squares.
If you have a mesh-type tank lid, the crate also hides the gecko from the cat’s view if it were to sit on top.
Another type of product that can be used to make sure a cat stays away from a gecko’s tank are scat mats.
There are two types of scat mats.
One is a plastic mat with relatively soft spikes across the top which are super uncomfortable to step or lay on. Don’t worry though, these aren’t sharp enough to cause any injuries. The mat itself has holes across it so you can even zip tie it to the top of the tank without sacrificing ventilation.
There are also battery-powered scat mats that produce pulses similar to static electricity upon contact. This is strong enough to mildly shock your cat, but not to the point where your cat will get electrocuted or fried. It produces an unexpected tingling sensation.
Some models like this one on Amazon may also be set to emit sounds alongside the pulses or either one alone.
Air dusters are another option to repel cats from gecko tanks even when the owner is not around.
If you are part of any forums or groups on social media for cat owners, you’ve probably heard of motion-activated canisters containing compressed air. Others also use canned aerosol dusters for electronics. They are indeed effective but not harmless.
Though their names give the impression that they only release normal breathable air, they typically contain liquefied compressed gasses such as difluoroethane and propane.
Possible Dangers: Some pet parents had to bring their cats to the vet after skin exposure and inhalation because their cat got sprayed straight in the face. So be very careful with using these around your cats and geckos.
Air dusters deter cats because of the sudden hissing sound they produce. Keep in mind though, cats are pretty clever animals. They may learn that as long as they jump over or maneuver around the can they won’t be hissed at and blasted with air.
So to ensure that air dusters will scare your cat away from gecko tanks, I recommend moving it around often. You could also create a bunch of box housings for it that still has holes for the nozzle and sensor.
Safer Alternatives: Not all things that have chemicals or synthetic substances in them are inherently dangerous. However, as pet parents, concerns about the safety of both our cats and geckos are definitely a top priority.
Instead of buying chemical air dusters, opt for electric dusters like this one on Amazon. Heck—even steam irons are enough to give your cat a fright.
Surprisingly, the spices and seasonings in your kitchen cupboards can also be used to make sure your cats stay away from your gecko.
These spices and seasonings can deter cats from gecko tanks:
- Ground black pepper
- Cayenne pepper
- Hot sauces
- Coffee grounds
Both the taste and smell of spices and seasonings have an aversive effect on cats.
But don’t go around dumping these on top of your gecko’s tank, it may cause problems for them (e.g., breathing difficulties).
Just pour some in a couple of cups and place those around the tank or sprinkle some outside the tank.
Have you ever noticed how your cat stays away whenever you are using citrus-scented cleaners on certain furniture pieces and places?
Cats greatly dislike citrus fruits like limes, lemons, and oranges—which is why owners can easily find them in cat repellent sprays. Curiously, cats also dislike the smell of apple and banana peels.
Add these to the water in your spray bottle or simply juice them. Your cats are sure to hate the smell of it and keep their paws off the gecko tank.
Cats will instinctively back away from certain fragrant plants and herbs which may be toxic to them.
These plants and herbs will deter cats away from gecko tanks:
- Tea tree
Just get a couple of pots and place them near your cat so it stops before getting close to the gecko tank.
Never: Considering how many scents cats find aversive you may be tempted to use essential oils, however, those are known to be quite harmful to cats . We want cats to leave the gecko tank alone but we don’t want them hurt.
Rather than using essential oils, you could instead infuse candle wax cubes with the scents that cats find unpleasant.
Wax cubes with aversive scents to cats are much safer than essential oils. These don’t need to be melted to be used which avoids the emission of dangerous fumes that could significantly affect your gecko.
Another method for you to try is to soak a few cotton balls, clean rags, or pieces of cloth in a mixture of blitzed aversive fruits or plants and water. Then place them in a small bowl to avoid the mixture from making a mess of your house.
Pro Tip: You can use all of these deterrents simultaneously to ensure that your cat never steps any of its paws near your precious geckos’ tanks. Just familiarize yourself with the possible risks of these cat deterrents.
A cat is attracted by any moving objects or animal, including a gecko in a tank. To prevent cats from getting too interested in geckos, the owner might choose to hide the tank from view by using:
- Room dividers
- Partition panels
- Curtains (except sheer)
- Blinds or shades
- Cloth or blanket
- Window films
The downside with this method is that your gecko’s tank can no longer serve as a great showpiece since it needs to be covered unless you need to feed your pet or service the tank.
You can invest in a few smart films and install them on your gecko tank’s glass walls and/or doors if you still want to be able to view the tank from afar.
Smart films can be turned off when your cat is not in the room and turned on quickly if needed.
When upgrading a gecko tank to stop cats from going near it, flimsy screened lids must be avoided. Most cat intrusions have been due to such lids easily caving in and breaking.
There’s no shame in starting with a considerably small and simple tank set-up if it’s your first time owning a gecko. We’ve all been there.
However, it’s important to consider how cost-efficient such set-ups will be in the long run, especially if you have to continuously do upgrades.
Personally, I would advise all cat owners planning to get geckos—or any other reptile for that matter—to save up a lot of money and get themselves a high-quality fully paneled gecko tank right from the start.
In such tanks, lights and heaters can be mounted inside so even if your cat gets on top, it won’t be knocking down anything which could start a house fire. Plus, none of your cat’s fur will fall into the tank.
Ultimately, you need to completely secure your gecko’s tank to eliminate virtually all chances that your cat will take interest in your small and scaly buddy.
Cat-proof a gecko tank set-up by:
- Shelving the tank
- Eliminating ledges
- Reinforcing the lid/top
- Placing a hood
- Keeping it locked
- Switching to bio-active
More often than not, customizable and stackable tank set-ups (here on Zen Habitats) have all the factors that make it cat-proof. If you’re good with your hands, you can build one yourself too.
Set your tanks on sturdy shelving units, preferably perfectly matching your tank’s dimensions.
Each tank should only have a few inches of space on top for lights, heaters, etc. This also ensures that your cat cannot
Ensure that there are no or minimal ledges around the gecko tank that your cat can perch on.
More importantly, there should be no free space behind the gecko tank that your cat can squeeze itself into. I have heard numerous horror stories of cats pushing off tanks of baby geckos and the babies escaping and then dying at their paws.
Ideally, the tank should also be far from other furniture that will allow your cat to gain purchase and jump onto the tank.
The following can be used to reinforce your gecko tank’s lid so cats can’t break in:
- Lid clips
- Hardware cloth (here on Amazon)
- Metal grill insert
- Cooling rack
- Steel grate
- Wood boards
You can zip tie them or glue them to the tank lid.
If your gecko’s tank has dual access—from the front and the top—and the front door allows you to reach all corners with ease, you could permanently close the lid with some silicone.
If you have a gecko tank with a mesh lid but can’t afford to buy a new and upgraded tank, settle for buying or creating a hood for it.
Conversely, if you’ve got a lot of money to spend, get a tank set-up that has optional hoods and stands for the enclosure.
The hoods and stands could also double as storage spaces for your cleaning supplies, spare decors, back-up bulbs, live insects—if you keep your own colonies—and what have you.
Though locks are now a common feature found in most commercially available tanks, not all locks will sufficiently protect your geckos from your very curious and crafty cats.
I would not recommend relying on the simple latching locks used by some manufacturers as some cats can easily open those after some trial and error.
Go for enclosures with lock-and-key mechanisms if you can. Or if you have a refrigerator lock like this one on Amazon, use that to secure the doors and lid of your geckos’ tanks.
Cats are strong, but they definitely don’t have “superfeline” strength.
If you switch to bio-active—with a really thick layer of substrate, live plants, water features, decors, hides, and all—your kitty will surely not be able to shove and destroy the vivarium.
It also helps to give your geckos an enclosure that is at least 30 gallons. Accidents with gecko tanks and cats commonly happen with 20-gallon tanks and smaller ones.
Ideally, geckos should be kept in a room that can be closed off from cats. By restricting a cat’s access to the tank, a gecko will not face any harm even if it escapes its enclosure.
Got a spare room that’s collecting nothing but dust? Then turn it into your reptile room!
Because at the end of the day the best way you can make sure your cat never bothers your gecko is if it is inaccessible to your furball.
Sadly, not every pet parent has such luxury. If this is true for you, you can settle for a closet.
A friend of mine, for example, keeps her geckos, bearded dragons, and snakes, in one of the unused big closets at her apartment.
Important reminder: Having to simply close the door to your reptile room or closet is fine until you experience an accident. That said, you can ensure that your gecko is protected from your cat if you do all seven methods I have discussed.
On average, distracted cats that are entertained are not likely to pursue or seek out a gecko and its tank, as their attention is focused elsewhere. It is also highly important that pet owners provide their cats with distractions enrichment even when they are not around to supervise.
Are you wondering how to make sure that your cat never takes interest in your gecko? Then, the first thing you should do is to always keep your cat entertained or occupied.
In this regard, cats are kind of like toddlers—they will continue pestering you or any other thing that tickles their fancy if they are bored and have nothing else to do.
So the most fundamental solution to keeping your geckos safe from your cats is to keep your fur babies busy. However, this is not always a feasible solution if the cat is alone at home unless you have battery-operated toys left for them.
Below are 4 methods to keep a cat entertained enough to prevent it from hunting down a gecko:
- Offering different toys: keep changing the way a cat is entertained—the limited availability of each toy helps keep the novelty. You could use a laser pointer, fishing-rod-type of toys, or even Battery-operated and rechargeable toys that move around, light up, and/or produce sounds, like this one on Amazon.
- Scheduling regular playtimes: a cat that is entertained on a regular basis will easily get tired, losing interest in the gecko as a result. Ideally, this should be done before you need to feed your gecko or service its tank.
- Making mealtime fun and enriching: feed your cats before you attend to your tanks to prevent your cats from viewing your geckos as snacks. Give it some obstacles with a tool like a puzzle feeder (here on Amazon) or stick in a portion of its food into a feeder ball to give yourself more time with your cold-bellied babies.
- Giving a show to watch and observe: get your cats to watch something else other than your gecko. You could let them watch the tank of your live feeders (e.g., crickets), the view of the outside (e.g., streets, backyard), or aquarium videos.
Can I let my cat continue watching my gecko in the tank to keep it entertained?
The golden rule is: cats shouldn’t be allowed to constantly watch geckos for entertainment. Even if they only watch from afar, there is always a chance that cats will try to get closer and attempt to break into the tank.
Sadly, some gecko keepers who also own cats perpetuate the myth that cats cannot be trained—adding to their already bad reputation. Despite still being widely believed, it is completely false.
When training cats to stay away from geckos, and reptile tanks in general, the owner must keep in mind to only reward desired behavior with their preferred treats, toys, or positive attention and consistently ignore unwanted behavior .
Furthermore, physical punishment and negative attention are not effective in stopping undesirable behaviors.
Easier said than done, right? This is why a pet owner’s commitment and patience are crucial to successfully training cats to not go anywhere near gecko tanks and become a bother.
So if you already have a cat and are planning on getting a gecko soon, and vice versa, it is important to make sure to teach your cat the most basic command of “No.” Others also use “Stop” and “Leave it.”
By starting with “No,” you can get your cat to not do or go to places they aren’t allowed to. Your kitties must learn that disturbing the gecko and going near its tank are big no-nos. Once that’s out of the way, you can start teaching your cats a bunch of other tricks.
How often should you give cats treats when training them to stay away from the gecko tank?
Generally, for cats to be successfully trained to steer clear of the gecko tank, they should be rewarded consistently and immediately after following the owner’s commands. Once the cat has learned, it can then be given rewards occasionally.
Can you let geckos and cats meet or play with each other?
I don’t recommend owners to let their cats and geckos meet each other under any circumstance—especially if they don’t have a solid division between them. Simply put, cats are natural predators and geckos are prey for them. Owners who have attempted to do this ended up with seriously injured and eaten geckos.
Are all geckos scared of cats?
Not all geckos show signs of fear and stress upon seeing a cat, or other house pets, watching it, especially if they were raised around the same time frame. Other owners have shared stories of their geckos climbing up the glass walls to stare down cats. Surprisingly, some geckos even attempt to strike or bite at the cats in front of their tanks.
Can geckos and cats ever get along with each other?
Although uncommon, it is not unheard of. Some cats and geckos interact actively with each other through the glass barriers of the tank when they have grown up together. However, I will still advise against letting them meet and play because even the most sweet-natured cat is a natural predator.
Is it okay to scare my cats away from my gecko tank with cucumbers?
Despite videos of cats scurrying away from cucumbers going viral years ago, it is not advisable to do this. Doing so could cause them to injure themselves, break something, or lead to prolonged stress. There are other better ways and safer deterrents you can use to make your cats leave the gecko tank alone.
Multiple objects can deter cats from interacting with geckos and going near tanks because of their unexpected textures, sounds, scents, and tastes.
Pet owners can avoid placing geckos in harm by blocking off the cat’s vision into their pet gecko’s tank.
Upgrading a gecko tank can protect your gecko and prevent cat attacks, especially since these attacks commonly happen due to easily damaged low-quality screened tank lids.
Create or buy a cat-proof tank set-up to ensure that your gecko will not be terrorized by cats even if you are not around to supervise.
Gecko owners should place their reptile tanks in a closed-off space that cannot be accessed by a cat. This ensures the gecko’s safety even in the event of tank escapes.
Entertained cats are too distracted to pay attention to gecko tanks. Occupy and/or tire out cats with various toys, active playtime, challenging mealtimes, and a show to watch.
Pet owners can train cats to stay away from gecko tanks by consistently providing positive reinforcements, such as favorite foods, toys, or affection, right after it performs the desired behavior.