What Small Animals Make Great Companions for Dogs and Cats?

Despite being wonderful companions for humans, dogs and cats sometimes also need companions of their own. However, not all animals can develop safe and healthy relationships with these furry pets. So, which animals make great companions and playmates for your dogs or cats?

This article will cover some of the best small animals that can coexist with your dog or cat. It will also contain some benefits of these companions for your furry friend and how to initiate the relationship.

The Best Small Animal Companions for Dogs and Cats

Before considering introducing a companion to your furry friend, you need to factor in their temperament, whether they’ll get along with their new companion, and what their needs are. And always remember: safety first! A dog or cat’s natural instinct might be to hunt, stalk, and even kill a smaller animal – so keep all introductions very well supervised.

On that note, here are some small animals that can coexist with dogs and cats and create a strong bond with them.

Guinea Pigs

Photo by Jaroslaw Slodikiewicz from Unsplash

Guinea pigs are gentle animals that enjoy socializing with other animals. So, it should come as no surprise that they could be able to establish a wonderful inter-species relationship with dogs or cats. 

One of the main reasons why they make for great companions is their calm nature and small size. Therefore, larger pets do not find them intimidating.

That said, you must slowly introduce your furry friend to their new companion – again, safety first. When both parties have warmed up to each other, they could become the best of friends that cuddle all the time. 

Ensure to supervise these friends whenever they are together. Furthermore, you might need to separate them occasionally because some dogs and cats tend to have a strong prey drive.


Photo by Gavin Allanwood from Unsplash

Rabbits can make incredible companions for dogs and cats. This is because they have similar characteristics, such as playfulness, a love for grooming, and curiosity.

However, certain conditions need to be fulfilled for this relationship to blossom. If you have a dog and want to get a rabbit, you need to consider your dog’s breed. For example, hunting breeds are less likely to bond with rabbits, and more care must be taken with safety. On the other hand, a calm non-sporting dog has a greater chance of forming a strong and safe bond with a rabbit.

When it comes to cats, consider the fact that cats and rabbits can be territorial, with the cat usually harming the rabbit. 

Nevertheless, these animals can coexist if one of them is not dominant or aggressive. In such a case, it is better if the rabbit is more dominant and the cat isn’t. With this pairing, you are bound to witness a strong friendship.

It is easier for dogs and cats to bond with rabbits when they are both young, so you should think about introducing them at a young age.


Photo by Nyusha Svoboda from Unsplash

Many people do not know this, but dogs and chinchillas can peacefully coexist with one another. A safe and gradual introduction will give you the best chance of this occurring.

Foremost, you should leave your chinchilla in its cage and allow your dog to adapt to its smell. Your dog getting used to the chinchilla’s smell is vital to their friendship. 

After your pup gets used to the smell, you can let them interact with each other. Just ensure to pay close attention to them as they engage each other.

Rodents such as rats, mice, and hamsters are typically at high risk of getting attacked by your cat. This is because most cats do not know the difference between a wild and domesticated rodent. 

However, this may not be the case with a chinchilla as long as your cat is not aggressive. Ensure to introduce the two furry friends slowly and safely under close supervision.


Photo by Timothy Dykes from Unsplash

Fish can be perfect for both dogs and cats. Granted, an overzealous cat might want to paw away at a fish, but as long as you keep the fish tank closed, everything should be fine. Even if your cat plays with the glass, no damage will come to the fish. 

The same thing applies to dogs. However, when it comes to dogs, you need to be careful with the tank because they can be clumsy and might accidentally tip the tank over! That said, with proper introduction and training, a fish can be a great companion for your dog or cat. Watching the fish swim around can be quite therapeutic for them, and provide some mental stimulation. If you are considering getting a fish, neon tetra is a popular species for many fish owners.


Photo by Steve Tsang from Unsplash

Ferrets are intelligent, social animals that can create strong long-lasting bonds with your dog or cat. The key is to introduce them safely and teach them boundaries. Ferrets are typically energetic and quite curious, so they are perfect for pets that love interactive playtime.

Generally, ferrets are friendly and enjoy playing with other animals. However, you need to take caution if you have a cat. You need to take your time and allow your cat to get used to the presence of the ferret. This way, your cat can learn not to fear the ferret or see them as prey.

Benefits of Companions for Dogs and Cats

Getting a new pet has numerous benefits, not just for your other pets but for you too. Here are some reasons why adding another pet to your home is beneficial:

Improved Physical Health

Cats, and especially dogs, enjoy being active. Well, providing them with another pet to play with can help keep them active. 

Furthermore, this will help them if they are overweight. Having a new companion can help your pet maintain a healthy weight, and improve their physical and overall health. Lastly, it makes being active more enjoyable for them.


Similar to all the animals on this list, dogs and cats are social creatures that enjoy engaging with other animals. 

Therefore, by adding another small animal to your home, you are providing your pet with mental stimulation as well as socialization. Ultimately, this helps keep them occupied and happy.

Emotional Support

Just like humans need emotional support from time to time, so do pets. Fortunately, pets can give each other emotional support whenever they are stressed or experience change, for example, a new environment. By simply having another animal around, your furry pet would feel better.

Tips for a Successful Introduction

Here are some quick tips to help you safely introduce your dog or cat to their new companion. Remember – safety first!

  • Prior to any visual or physical interactions, find a piece of clothing, bedding, or similar material that has the smell of each animal on it. Give the other animal this item, so that each animal can get used to the others’ smell.
  • Begin the visual introduction with brief, safe, and supervised interactions. This will limit the risk of injury. Eventually, you can increase the interaction length until both animals are comfortable with each other.
  • Provide a safe space for the small animal to retreat to if they feel threatened.
  • Note that creating a friendship between your furry friend and their new companion may take time, and you need to be patient. Also, be sure to promote positive reinforcement by praising your pets and giving them treats when they interact positively.
  • If you have any concerns regarding creating a harmonious relationship between your pets, you can reach out to your veterinarian for advice.


Adding a small animal to your home has a lot of merits for your dog or cat, from joy to companionship. The trick to attaining these benefits is to select the right small animal for your home and then create a safe environment for them to interact. 

By following the tips and tricks in this article, you should be able to pick the best animal for your home and establish a lasting interspecies relationship between your pets.

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