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Home > Fish > How to Cat-Proof a Fish Tank: 8 Vet Approved Tips & Tricks

How to Cat-Proof a Fish Tank: 8 Vet Approved Tips & Tricks

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Dr. Paola Cuevas

Veterinarian, MVZ

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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If you have a fish tank, you need to cat-proof it. Cats love to attack and kill fish, so keeping them away from your aquarium is important. Cats are naturally drawn to fast-moving objects, and the vibrant fish in your living room never fails to trigger their hunter instincts—the shimmery scales are too irresistible for our fierce feline friends.

Cats are adventurous and clever. You’ll often find your curious cat exploring places you didn’t even know they could go. Your fish tank is probably one of the most fascinating things in your house to your kitty. Cats might behave when you’re at home, but long days at work mean your fish aren’t protected.

Here are eight ways to shield your fish from your cat’s claws.


The 8 Best Ways to Cat-Proof a Fish Tank

1. Mesh Screen

Kitten sitting on the mesh cover of fish tank
Image Credit: AjayTvm, Shutterstock

To cat-proof a fish tank, you can use a mesh screen to cover the tank’s opening. This will keep your cat from being able to jump in and potentially harm the fish. A mesh screen can be placed over the top of the tank to prevent the cat from getting in while still allowing light and air to get through. The mesh should be fine enough that the cat’s paw cannot fit through it but also strong enough that it cannot be torn. This will keep the cats from reaching in and grabbing the fish.

The mesh screen can be attached to the tank with clamps, ties, clips, or screws; just make sure that the screen is tight against the tank so that your cat cannot push it aside and get into the tank.

  • Light and air can still get into the tank
  • Sturdier than some other solutions
  • Your cat may sit on top of the mesh
  • Fish may still feel stressed

2. Make Sure the Tank Is Covered

person covering a square aquarium
Image Credit: Valeriy Surujiu, Shutterstock

Due to the colorful, darting fish in fish tanks, cats enjoy them. Nothing stops your kitty from pestering your fish while you are away from home for any length of time. You can cover the tank when you are at work or sleeping. Old blankets or towels work well. Use whatever hides the fish from your cat. However, there is a catch.

Whether it’s drapes or a blanket hanging off a bed, if your cat likes to play with dangling fabric, it might pull it all down. Make sure the blanket and tank are secure. The last thing you want is a smashed aquarium. Cover the glass with cardboard if your cat tugs at hanging fabric.

  • The fish are hidden from sight
  • Recycles blankets and cardboard
  • Cats will sometimes play with blankets
  • They may pull the tank off the counter

3. Cat Repellent

spray bottle floral design
Image Credit: Engin_Akyurt, Pixabay

Upon smelling certain smells, your cat will not want to explore certain places. Cats dislike citrus scents such as lemon, lime, and orange. Commercial cat repellent sprays are also available—you just have to remember to use them. After the scent fades, you won’t be able to keep your cat away until you reapply. Please do this very carefully to make sure the repellent does not get into the fish tank.

  • Deterrent sprays can be made at home
  • Deterrent mats are extremely effective
  • Some scents are not safe for cats
  • Electric deterrents are not for everyone

4. Cat-Proof Mats

shock-proof training mat

Cat-proof mats are another great way to prevent your cat from getting into your fish tank. There are several different kinds of cat-proof mats. Simple mats provide a spiky surface that cats avoid walking on. These are safe and very straightforward. Shock-proof mats use static-like pulses of low-powered electricity. Although it is harmless to your cat and will keep it from jumping into the aquarium, some owners think these mats are cruel.

  • Deterrent mats are extremely effective
  • Easy solution
  • Spiky mats are not very aestetic
  • Electric deterrents are not for everyone

5. Sticky Surfaces

Double-sided tape
Image Credit: Ekaterina43, Shutterstock

On and around the fish tank, the double-sided sticky tape can be used as a solution. Because cats are picky about where they place their feet, they can also be picky about the type of litter they use. You’ve probably experienced how sharp some objects can be if you’ve ever walked on gravel or a rocky beach barefoot. It is the same with cats, and they will avoid surfaces they dislike. Because cats don’t like the way sticky surfaces interfere with their paws, sticky surfaces often work.

  • Sticky things don’t go well with cats
  • A cheap solution
  • Double-sided tape can collect dirt
  • You will need to replace the tape as it loses stickiness

6. Set Up a Distraction

two cats playing with toy at home
Image Credit: Axel Bueckert, Shutterstock

There are several ways to distract your cat, and you can combine them with other methods for the best results. Having toys around while at work can be helpful. By giving them puzzle toys with treats inside, you can distract them from the fish in the tank. It’s also possible to place a cat tree next to a window overlooking your garden if you have one. It will give your cat a place to watch the birds in your yard from a high position.

  • Good for short durations
  • Works while you’re out
  • Toys and cat trees can be expensive

7. Aquariums With Lids

aquarium with acrylic lid
Image Credit: saiglobalnt, Shutterstock

Fish tanks don’t always come with lids, but those that do are useful for a number of reasons. Lids prevent fish from escaping, keep dirt out, and even contain LED lights that help aquarium plants grow. Because the lid is integrated into the design of the tank, this solution looks a lot more attractive than some other options.

Although a secure lid won’t prevent your cat from jumping up, it will prevent them from going fishing all day long. You can’t stop your fish from attracting your cat, but you can make them inaccessible.

  • Keeps cats away from your fish
  • Looks more attractive than other options
  • Cats can still sit on or near the tank

8. Close the Door

cat near door at home
Image Credit: Africa Studio, Shutterstock

When all else fails, keep your fish tank in a closed room and keep your cat out. Plus, you’ll be able to use it most effectively when you’re sleeping or working. It might seem cruel to deny your cat access to one of your rooms. Some cats can be extremely vocal when they don’t get their way.

As long as you don’t lock the fish tank in with the cat’s litter tray, your cat will eventually get over it. Your cat will find something else to do if it cannot access the fish it loves to bother, like rest or play with a toy. The easiest way to prevent your cat from eating your fish is to close the door.

  • A no-brainer
  • It’s effective
  • The fish tank should be in a room with a door
  • Your cat will complain



In conclusion, by following the simple tips mentioned in this article, you can cat-proof your fish tank and keep both your fish and your feline friend safe and happy. These include adding a cover to the tank, adding a cat deterrent around the tank, and keeping the door to the room the aquarium is in closed.

By following the tips provided, you can make your fish tank cat-proof and reduce the risk of your fish becoming a snack. Remember to always be vigilant and keep an eye on your pets when they are near the tank. A cat ingesting fish tank water is also at risk of becoming ill.

Featured Image Credit: Maleo, Shutterstock

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