Cat vs Squirrel: Who Would Win?

Written by

Amy Sawy

Veterinarian. DVM


Joseph M. Plummer

Veterinarian, DVM, MVZ

cat vs squirrel who would win

Cats are agile predators. On the other hand, squirrels are small creatures fast enough to sneak up on trees, away from predators’ sight.

Will a squirrel fight a cat? The quick answer is yes. And since felines see squirrels as prey, it results in a brawl where the more clever one wins.

So, who would win in a fight between a cat vs squirrel? Keep reading as we will discuss the answer in this article. We’ll also tackle everything you need to know about these mammals.

Cat vs. Squirrel: A Breakdown

1. Anatomy of a Cat


A cat’s anatomy is very much like that of other mammals. However, they have unique features that they use for their agile and predatory lifestyle.

Felines have ears that can move independently, which allows them to detect sounds from great distances. They also have a keen sense of vision and smell.

These mammals have a size that can reach between 20 to 28 inches depending on their breed. They also have large teeth and claws, which they use for catching prey and tearing flesh.

Moreover, felines have an extremely flexible skeleton that allows them to contort into various positions. Their leg bones are long and covered with powerful muscles, which they use to jump, run, and climb.

2. Anatomy of a Squirrel


One of the critical features of a squirrel’s anatomy is its lightweight and flexible skeleton. This lightness helps them climb fast on trees.

Their limbs are adapted for jumping from one branch to another. Each paw even has claws sharp enough to help them grip tree barks.

The leg skeleton of squirrels is covered with strong muscles that allow them to jump long distances.

Squirrels also have two upper and two lower teeth that they use to open nuts and seeds. These teeth never stop growing throughout the mammal’s lifetime.

3. Feline’s Hunting and Eating Habits


Cats possess an innate instinct to hunt. These skilled predators utilize their keen vision, smell, and hearing to track their target.

When felines spot prey, they silently stalk it until they get close enough to pounce on it. Their usual prey includes rats, birds, frogs, and other small animals.

However, household cats often kill their prey not to eat them but to bring them to their caretaker as a “gift.” The main reason for this behavior is their domestication made them used to cat food rather than a carnivorous diet.

Felines only have a little capacity to hold food. So, they prefer to eat several small meals throughout the day instead of one large meal.

4. How Squirrels Look for Food


Squirrels possess a great sense of smell, which they use to look for food. Their nose can pick up even the mildest scent of food.

However, these small, furry mammals do not eat the nuts they find in one meal. Instead, they bury them in scattered areas within their territories.

This way, they’ll quickly find food to keep them thriving in winter.

Unlike cats which are carnivores, squirrels are primarily herbivores that feed on fruits, nuts, seeds, fungi, and shoots. But they may also feed on insects, small rodents, and bird eggs when they cannot find plant food.

Strengths and Weaknesses of Felines


1. Strengths

  • Felines are known for their quick reflexes that allow them to chase and catch squirrels with ease.
  • Ability To Move Silently. Cats move silently, letting them get close to their opponent without it noticing. If a cat preys on a squirrel, the squirrel will only notice it during the attack, making it difficult to escape.
  • Hunting Instincts. Felines are natural hunters, so their instinct drives them to catch their prey in all possible ways.
  • Sharp Teeth And Claws. Cats use their sharp teeth and claws to hold on to their prey. If a squirrel is unlucky enough to be caught by a feline, the latter would use its claws to wound and kill it.

2. Weaknesses

  • Squirrels Are Better Climbers. While felines can climb well, squirrels are faster and better climbers. So, if there is a nearby tree, a squirrel has a good chance of surviving a feline attack.
  • Distractions. Cats easily get distracted by stimuli. When they hear sounds or movements, they can lose focus, thus missing their chance to catch their prey.
  • Lack Of Experience. When a cat is not used to wandering outdoors, they have a low chance of catching a squirrel.

Strengths and Weaknesses of a Squirrel


1. Strengths

  • Alertness. Squirrels are always wary of their surroundings. They have excellent hearing and vision, so they can quickly detect predators like cats.
  • Self-Defense Instinct. Squirrels have sharp teeth and claws. When a feline attacks, a squirrel will put up a fight by injuring it.
  • Climbing Abilities. If a fight between a cat and a squirrel happens where there are trees and vegetation, the latter can hide. This factor makes it difficult for a feline to catch a squirrel.

2. Weaknesses

  • Squirrels are smaller than cats. If a feline pounces on a squirrel, it may find it difficult to escape.
  • Lack Of Aggression. Squirrels are usually gentle. Their lack of aggression may prevent them from effectively defending themselves against a cat attack.
  • Limited Fighting Skills. Squirrels typically use their teeth and claws to open nuts or climb trees and not to attack other animals. Since they have limited ability to fight, they may not be able to fight off a cat.

Squirrel Vs. Cat: Who Would Win In A Fight?

Can cats kill squirrels? The answer depends on what kind of feline is involved in cat and squirrel fights.

1. Feral Cats Vs. Squirrels


Feral cats kill squirrels as they see these small rodents as food. However, the answer to who would win between a feral feline and a squirrel depends on the circumstances of the fight.

Undomesticated felines will win if the fight happens in an area without trees. While squirrels are fast, the lack of trees means they have nowhere to hide from the cat.

But squirrels will not lose without putting up a fight. They will use their sharp teeth and claw to defend themselves so they have the chance to get away from their predator.

On the other hand, squirrels have the upper hand if a fight with a cat occurs in areas surrounded by trees. While it is unlikely that a squirrel kills a cat, they can get away using their ability to climb trees quickly.

2. Domestic Cats Vs. Squirrels


While feral cats eat squirrels, domesticated felines often hunt them for fun. Since their caretakers already provide sufficient food, they only kill squirrels to exercise their hunting instincts.

However, it is worth noting that some household cats may enjoy the taste of raw meat, causing them to hunt and feed on squirrels and other animals.

Another thing worth noting is that domestic cats will not easily catch squirrels unless they are really skilled hunters. Most of the squirrels they’ll catch are either injured or too young to have the skills to escape.

Are squirrels faster than cats? Yes. So, they always have a chance of escaping a feline, mainly if the latter is not used to hunting.

Causes of Fighting Between Cat and Squirrel

One reason why you may see a cat catching a squirrel is that the latter is potential prey. Meanwhile, squirrels see felines as a threat to their safety, so they protect themselves by attacking them.

But seeing cats attack squirrels does not always mean aggression. You may also see a squirrel playing with a cat, primarily if the two are used to each other’s presence.

Factors That Influence the Outcome of a Cat and Squirrel Fight

  1. Squirrels can quickly climb trees, so they use this ability to run away from a fight. As mentioned, these rodents are more likely to win during a fight in a forest setting.
  2. As mentioned, a cat can successfully catch a squirrel if it is a skilled hunter. But if the feline is a domestic one that rarely steps out of its caretaker’s home, catching a squirrel is unlikely.
  3. Felines have the advantage in a fight due to their size. But if the squirrel is quite large or the cat involved in the fight is a small kitten, the squirrel has a better chance of taking it down.

Ways To Stop Cats And Squirrels From Fighting


Here are some things you can do if you see your cats chase squirrels:

  1. Redirect aggression. Sometimes, a feline shows its hunting instinct due to boredom. You can redirect this aggression by playing with your pet and keeping it stimulated.
  2. Get a bell collar for your cat. Bell collars create noise even at the slight movement of a cat. This noise can warn squirrels that a potential threat is coming, allowing them to run and hide.
  3. Feed your pet enough. Cats may hunt if they are hungry. So, providing them with sufficient food is crucial to prevent them from attacking squirrels.

Can Cats And Squirrels Get Along?

Cats and squirrels both love to play. So, it is not unusual for them to be good friends.

If you allow your pet to go out on its own, you may find it interacting with a squirrel. As both animals are agile, they may chase each other for fun or play fight.

The primary reason why cats and squirrels can get along is that they share a few similarities. Both animals are inquisitive and playful.

For this reason, they may get curious and explore each other.

Still, you should never forget that felines are predators, and they consider squirrels as their prey. When you see your pet interacting with a squirrel, keep an eye on it to ensure it is not preying on the rodent.

 List Of Cats That Can Kill Squirrels

Any cat can kill a squirrel, especially if it is a seasoned hunter. Below is a list of some wild and domestic cats that are crafty enough to catch a squirrel:

  1. Coyotes
  2. Bobcats
  3. Siamese Cats
  4. Bengals
  5. Sphynx
  6. Scottish Fold

Are grey squirrels strong?

One interesting fact about squirrels is the gray is actually stronger than the red one due to their larger size.


Cat vs squirrel, who would win? There is really no precise answer as there are several factors that determine who wins.

But regardless of which animal wins, some feline enthusiasts do not want their pet to prey on a squirrel. If you are one of those people, you should never let your cat out unsupervised.

Furthermore, ensuring your pet is kept indoors minimizes its impact on local wildlife. Keeping your cat away from squirrels also prevents them from potentially contracting a disease.

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