Generally, possums are fairly docile and non-aggressive. They don’t seek out other animals to attack and tend to prefer confrontations. Preferably, possums will hide or escape when they can instead of getting into a fight. However, if they are threatened and cornered, they may injure a cat.
Of course, because possums try to stay away from other animals, the cat must be the aggressor in this case.
How Dangerous are Possums?
A possum will not seek out a cat to fight. They aren’t predatory in this manner, either. Even a very hungry possum will not try to eat a cat. In fact, if your cat is hanging out in areas where possums live (dark, secluded areas), they are much more likely to be bit by a poisonous snake or spider than attacked by a possum.
Possums may look a bit scary and large enough to take on a cat. However, it is simply not in their nature to be aggressive. Cats and possums seem to be extremely tolerant of each other.
For all these reasons, cat owners typically don’t have anything to worry about when it comes to possums. Because this species doesn’t carry rabies, possums can’t spread rabies to your pet, either. The only situation where a possum becomes a threat is when it is attacked and cornered (even then, many possums will play dead before they become physical).
Can Cats Get Sick from Possums?
Possums do not usually carry any diseases that can be passed onto your cat. Instead, your cat is far more likely to become sick due to another cat or human, as these are the creatures they come into contact with most often.
Possums are solitary and prefer their secrecy. They are not particularly strong animals, so their first line of defense is to stay hidden. Therefore, the odds of your cat coming into close contact with a possum is extremely rare. Because close contact is necessary for diseases to spread (usually), this fact makes disease spread even less likely.
There are some reports that possums carry parasites like ticks, fleas, and other parasites. However, this isn’t true. In fact, these parasites are eaten by possums. Therefore, possums actually work to reduce the tick and flea population in your area—not carry them in.
For this reason, the odds of your cat getting a tick or flea from a possum are rather low. After all, why would a possum let one of these tasty snacks walk on by?
Do Feral Cats and Possums Get Along?
Possums and cats are quite similar. They both hide and live in similar places and require the same resources. Therefore, these animals can sometimes live together. Usually, both cats and possums are tolerant of each other’s company.
Because these animals are the same size, they aren’t threats to each other in most cases. Cats and possums could become injured if they get into a fight, so they remain pretty docile when around each other. A cat will think twice about attacking and possum and vice versa.
Furthermore, because possums eat lots of ticks and other parasites, it may actually be good for cats to have them around. They cannot carry rabies, so ticks are pretty harmless to possums themselves. However, they can reduce the number of parasites their cat friends are exposed to.
For these reasons, you may find possums living in feral cat colonies, especially if humans are providing food.
Finding possums hanging out around feral cat colonies is not unusual. If you feed or care for a colony, you’ll likely see one eventually. These animals are opportunistic, so they will take advantage of the food the feral cats are being provided.
Furthermore, possums have too low of a body temperature to carry rabies, so they are a “rabies barrier species”. They also consume many ticks and parasites, so they can actually be beneficial for cats to have around. In fact, these two species can be seen as having a symbiotic relationship. The cats attract fleas, ticks, and other parasites, while the possums eat them.
In the end, this gives the possum a trusted food source, and the cats have fewer parasites to deal with. It’s a win-win.
Featured Image Credit: Pixabay