Do Cats Attack Tortoises? Is Your Tortoise Safe?

Cats are curious creatures, and while they may seem harmless, their curiosity can land them in a sticky situation. Tortoises are shy animals that don’t like being bothered by other animals, but cats don’t always understand this.

Most cats will not attack a tortoise. The exception would be cats that are aggressive or have a high prey drive. For this reason, it is not recommended that you leave your tortoise unattended around cats.

An article from the University of Michigan’s Animal Diversity Web states, “cats generally ignore tortoises.” However, if your cat has a history of attacking small animals or other household pets, it may threaten the family pet.

This blog post will explore why cats attack tortoises and what pet owners can do about it!

Do Cats Attack Tortoises?

Cats can attack tortoises, but there are many ways by which they remain safe. Tortoises can curl up into a ball. They have hard shells with ridges and spikes for protection against any would-be predator that manages to get too close without them noticing. 

Cats can attack tortoises, but there are many ways by which they remain safe. Tortoises can curl up into a ball. They have hard shells with ridges and spikes for protection against any would-be predator that manages to get too close without them noticing. 

The tortoiseshell, tough as it is, can withstand immense pressure. Composites estimate that the average flexural strength of a turtle’s shell is around 165.1 mega Pascal’s. 

The scales on your typical turtles’ shells are designed in such a way so they have maximum contact with water and air while still maintaining their shape for protection against predators. The structure also creates an additional layer of defence because once these overlapping pieces naturally bend inward due to force applied by another object (e.g., waves). 

Each scale exerts more outward tension than if only one side were exposed without anything pressing down on it at all; this transformation creates two protective layers and protects the tortoise from attacks. 

Tortoises are one of the most unique creatures in existence, with their strong bite and impenetrable shell. Aside from its shell, a tortoise can also defend itself against cats by using its powerful jaws to inflict serious bites.

In a fight, your cat will likely avoid the tortoise’s range and attack its back. The shell of the reptile is tough enough to deflect an attacking feline. To make sure your tortoise is safe, try and break up any if they get in to fight. A fight can happen anytime, so it’s essential to be prepared for anything that may come your way.

Are Cats Dangerous To Tortoises?

A tortoise may be one of nature’s most impressive creations, but it doesn’t mean that these animals can fully safeguard themselves from predators such as cats. Cats can still find ways to harm them. Cats are very savage and quick on their feet when they are ready to attack. So they will still manage to bite or scratch a visible part of the tortoise before they can hide away inside their shell. 

Juvenile tortoises’ have softer shells make them more vulnerable to cats than adults as they might be easier prey or even killed outright by an attacking feline. Fortunately for the juveniles and other animal species, larger versions of themselves also exist. In addition, their rougher outer coatings offer protection against attacks such as those perpetrated by mean old kitties. 

Your cat is also like an invasive species to your tortoise. One minute it’s stalking a bird, and the next, it strolls into their enclosure where they can spread all sorts of terrible things like parasites, bacteria, bugs, or even faeces gathered from outside. These things can make your tortoise sick. 

If you have a cat with diarrhoea, it can be challenging to keep your tortoise habitat clean. However, it is vital for both the health of the animal and other pets close to taking action immediately if any faeces are present.

Why Do Cats Attack Tortoises?

Cats and tortoises are often thought to be very different species, but they’re quite similar in many ways. For example, some cats will fight with other animals if provoked, while others prefer not to get involved.

Tortoises also have varied personalities: some want nothing more than a peaceful retreat away from the hustle and bustle of life, whereas others enjoy fighting. 

Cats are natural-born warriors. You can see this in their hunting behaviour and how they routinely attempt to wrestle with other cats when not eating or sleeping.

When faced with a tortoise, though, the cat’s instincts kick into high gear as it realizes that proximity means danger for its own life. A tortoise can only save itself from these attacks if 

  • If tortoises are equal to or greater in size than cats 
  • If tortoise timely gets in its shell 
  • If tortoise get out of the reach of the cats

Cats also attack tortoises when they get into their space. The cat will usually attack to scare it off or eat it for dinner. In some severe cases, cats can injure tortoises and do things like 

  • Reach inside the shell of the tortoise and bite them. 
  • Cats can scratch the legs, face, and neck of the tortoise.
  • Irritate them until they lose their temper, and then they attack them. 

Can A Cat Kill A Tortoise?

A cat is one of the most cunning and calculated predators in animal history. They can get into a tortoise’s home, toy with them for hours before finally killing their prey by biting down on its throat or smothering them slowly to death. Sometimes they exhaust the tortoise, especially the younger ones, and then kill them. The best way to protect your young tortoise from this terrible fate is by making sure they’re inside when cats are around.


Cats usually attack tortoises, but for the most part, tortoises can remain safe. There are some exceptions to this rule, such as when a cat attacks and kills baby turtles, which happens more often than you would think. The baby tortoise should be kept away from any nearby cat as a precautionary measure to avoid getting harmed. 

Here Are Our Favourite Cat Products:

Thank you for taking the time to read this article. I hope you found it enjoyable and you learnt something new. Here are some of my favourite cat products that we use daily! The links are affiliate links which means I will earn a commission if you buy one of the products. I only recommend products that we use and love.

Recommended Litter Tray -The litter tray we swear by is the Litter-Robot III, especially as we live in a small flat. It is on the pricey side, but it is by far the best automatic litter tray if you can afford it. Although the initial cost is expensive, you save on litter in the long run. The Litter-Robot uses regular clumping litter.

Recommended Cat Water Fountain – We have gone through our fair share of water fountains between Owlie and her brothers. Our favourite water fountain is the Pet Mate water fountain. The main reason we choose this water fountain is due to how quiet the fountain is. I HATE the sound of dripping water, like a leaky tap, ughhh, but the Pet Mate is silent. It is also easy to clean and doesn’t make splashes.

Recommended Cat Litter – The cat litter we recommend is the Ever Clean. This litter helps control odour the best out of all the litter we have tested. It also clumps quickly and holds well, which is why it works so well in our Litter-Robot. The only downside to the litter it does track through the property. Our preference is no odour over a few bits of dust, but everyone is different. If odour control and clumping are your priorities, I would definitely check out the Ever Clean Cat Litter.

Recommended Cat Bed – By far, the best cat bed we have ever used is the Plush Donut Cat Bed. I have nothing, literally nothing bad to say about this cat bed! It’s super soft, which our cat LOVES, and holds in heat, making it super warm and cosy. The bottom of the bed has rubber spots to stop it from sliding along the floor.

Recommended Cat Harness -The cat harness you choose greatly depends on what breed and size of the cat you have. If you have a larger, more robust cat, we recommend the Rabitgoo Escape Proof Cat Harness as it is easy to put on and take off a cat. It is also doubled lined and very secure. However, if you have a smaller cat or kitten, the harness might be a little too heavy for their bodies. If this is the case, I recommend the Rabitgoo Kitten Harness.


Rochelle is a self-claimed crazy cat lady and proud cat mum to Owlie! She has owned, rescued, and fostered cats throughout her whole life. Rochelle created Cats On My Mind as a hub for likeminded cat parents to get all the information they will ever need to give their fur babies their best life!

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