Possums are medium-sized animals a little smaller than house cats. Despite looking like large rats, they are not related to rodents at all.
Instead, these animals are marsupials, making them a relative of the kangaroos.
In an instance that your pet cat encounters a possum, will it win, or will the possum pose a great danger against it? Read on to find out what is likely to happen in a fight between Cat vs Possum.
Table of Contents
Overview of Cat and Possum
|Felis silvestris catus
|Domesticated Cats/House Cats
|9 to 10 inches
|9 to 11 pounds
|13 to 16 inches (head to body, excluding the tail)
Domesticated cats are felines that live inside homes, farms, or in neighborhoods as ferals or strays. They came from thousands of years ago – developed through selective breeding.
Before being domesticated, they were wild felines who hunted smaller animals for food. But through direct evolution, the wild characteristics of these cats were taken away from their DNA.
Domesticated cats come in different names. People usually call them “alley cats” or “house cats,” to name a few.
2. Australia’s Most Common Possums
|Common Brushtail Possum
|2.6 to 10 pounds
|12.6 to 22.8 inches (head to body, excluding the tail)
|13 to 15 years
Common brushtail possums are native to Australia. Moreover, brushtail possums were also introduced in New Zealand, New Guinea, and Tasmania, and Victoria, to name a few. These semi arboreal marsupials are the second-largest of all the possums.
Brushtail possums are nocturnal. In terms of diet, these animals are folivores, meaning leaves are a great part of their diet.
These possums are common in the cities of Australia, so there is a high chance for house cats to encounter them.
In terms of appearance, common brushtail possums have a bushy tail, pointed ears, and a medium-sized body.
Differences Between Cat And Possum
Before knowing which animal would win in a fight between a cat and a possum, it is important to understand how they differ first.
Domesticated felines are commonly covered with white, black, gray, or yellow fur. They may also have different coat patterns ranging from stripes, swirls, and tabby.
These cats retain some of the physical characteristics of their wild ancestors, such as pointy ears, long muzzles, and sharp claws. But unlike their large ancestors, typical house cats are considerably smaller at around 13 to 16 inches long.
Meanwhile, brushtail possums have bushy tails, hence, the name. They have a stocky build and can grow up to 23 inches long.
In terms of their coat, brushtail possums have gray to brown fur on their back and lighter fur on the underside. They also have dark stripes running down their backs.
Cats are common in residential areas. They either live indoors, in farms where they serve as pest control, or in urban environments as strays and ferals.
Meanwhile, strays and ferals are a little like wild felines. The reason is that they try to stay away from humans, as they are used to living in the streets.
Brushtail possums usually live in woodlands and forests. They stay on top of the trees to avoid predators like foxes and pythons.
However, it is also common for possums to live in urban areas. You can find them in cities where they stay in gardens, hollows of trees, and parks for shelter and foraging.
Domesticated felines are known for their speed and agility. They can run extremely fast, thanks to their powerful legs that allow them to sprint with bursts of speed. They are also flexible to get into tight spaces, twist their bodies, and leap high.
Additionally, house cats have the ability to climb trees using their sharp claws and strong muscles. They even have night vision that allows them to spot their prey no matter how dark the surroundings are.
On the other hand, possums are exceptional climbers with incredible grasping abilities. This ability allows them to escape predators successfully.
Brushtail possums also have great night vision and hearing, and curved claws that they use to protect themselves against their attackers. These marsupials also use their strong hind limbs to propel themselves through the air.
Possum vs. Cat: Who Would Win?
In theory, cats will win in a fight against possums. Can a cat kill a possum?
The quick answer is yes, especially if the possum is dealing with a stray or feral cat. As mentioned, domesticated felines are skilled hunters, so their sharp teeth and claws pose a threat to possums.
However, possums will not back down without a fight. They can use their agility to escape a cat or physically defend themselves using their sharp claws.
If a fight between a cat and a possum happens in a woody area, there are better chances for the possum to escape.
Frequently Asked Questions & Tips
Potential Risks Of Possums To Cats
While the chances of a cat encountering a possum are low, knowing the potential threat it can pose to your pet is crucial.
- Disease Transmission. Possums can be carriers of certain illnesses and parasites. In the instance that a possum bites your pet, it can contract diseases like toxoplasmosis – a parasitic infection.
- Physical Injury. As mentioned, brushtail possums have sharp claws. Therefore, possums hurt cats using these claws, leading to physical injuries. Fortunately, it is unlikely that a possum attacks cats unless provoked.
- Competition For Food. Possums living in suburban areas can take stray and feral cats’ food and resources. In addition, possums eat cat’s food, so they can leave your pet hungry if you usually feed it outside your home
- House cats, especially kittens, can be stressed out by the unfamiliar sound, sight, and smell of possums.
Tips To Keep Your Cats Safe From Possums
- Keep Your Cat Indoors. Keeping your pet indoors will prevent it from encountering a possum. This also reduces the risk of disease transmission and potential hazards.
- Supervise Your Cat’s Outdoor Time. If you cannot help but let your cat outdoors, it is important to keep it company. This way, you can intervene if your pet tries to prey on a possum.
- Possum-Proof Your Home. Securing your outdoor spaces to prevent possums from getting in involves installing cat-proof fences, netting, or enclosures.
Are Possums and Opposums the same?
While both marsupials, possums and opossums are different animals. Possums are native to Australia, although they can also be found in New Zealand and China.
On the other hand, opossums are American and Canadian marsupials. The reason why people get confused with the difference between possums and opossums is that people often use the word “possum” as a shortened term for opossums.
Another difference is that possums have furry tails, hence, the name brushtail possums, while opossums have bare tails. Opossums are also larger than possums.
Will a Possum Kill a Kitten?
Possums are not confrontational animals. They will often feed on leaves or animals smaller than them, such as rodents, hamsters, or small birds.
But if a possum has nothing else to eat, it may kill and eat a chicken.
Are Possums Dangerous to Cats?
Possums do not pose a great danger to cats, as the latter is generally larger. However, if a cat attacks a possum and the possum fights back, it can injure the cat and transmit diseases and parasites.
Are Opossums Dangerous to Cats?
Like possums, opossums will not prey on cats. But if they are cornered, they may either fight back, play dead, or emit a bad odor to drive away the cat.
In a fight between a cat vs possum, the cat will win 9 out of 10 times. But while your pet can protect itself against the possible harm that the latter can bring, keeping it safe is also crucial.
To prevent an altercation between cats and possums, keep your pet indoors, or do not let it out alone. If there is only one possum near your area, you can also relocate it somewhere far from your home.
It is also important to take away anything that may attract possums. For instance, keep your garbage cans covered and do not let fallen fruits rot in your garden.
I am Amy Sawy, a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM) graduate from the University of Kansas. y husband, Dr. Plummer, and I own a veterinary clinic in Phillipsburg, Kansas. In addition to my professional background, I am a devoted pet owner myself, with a household that includes dogs, rodents, and most notably, cats – a total of five felines in my home.
In 2020, I joined an organization as a professional writer, leveraging my experience and collaborating with my team to deliver the most valuable information for your cat’s care.