Do cats eat turtles? (and how?!)

The short answer is yes, cats do eat turtles, but while they do, they can’t most of the time. Cats are born hunters, and the sight of a turtle moving its arm and head will attract them. Even so, not all turtles are easy food for cats. Due to their protective shell, turtles make it challenging for cats. In most cases, they can even survive against a cat play.

But what makes turtles suitable prey to cats? Can both animals even get along?

Let’s find out more about these two animals.

Turtles as prey to cats

The sight of turtles isn’t unusual for us, and the same goes for cats. Turtles and cats can both live in the wild and as pets.

Turtles become prey to cats since they are very slow, but still moving. With the playful behavior of a cat, the sight of a tortoise will entice the feline.

Thus, it’s no wonder why some turtles end up in a dangerous situation against cats.

To start, it’s best to view both animals in the places where they thrive.

Where do turtles live?

Turtles are adaptive animals, which means they can survive in different environments.

Thus, turtles can be aquatic or semi-aquatic. Most turtles, however, are terrestrial. The turtles that live on land and aren’t equipped to be in the water are what we call tortoises.

Most turtles live in the wild, independent and surviving on their own. The remaining ones live as pets to many owners, fed and taken care of most of the time.

Comparing both, the pet turtles are likely the victims of cats. The turtles that live as pets are always the ones in danger due to cats.

The wild ones face far more threats from more prominent predators.

What makes turtles easy prey is that they are sluggish. But why are they slow animals, you may wonder?

Why are turtles slow?

Out of the many reasons, turtles are slow because they don’t need to be fast.

Unlike other animals, turtles survive without the need to move fast. Fast animals use their speed to chase and hunt their food, and turtles don’t need such.

Turtles are herbivores, which means they feed on primarily stationary plants.

They also don’t have to run away from predators, since they can escape in their shells.

Against cats, turtles have no chance to escape by running. A cat’s curiosity and playfulness put pet turtles in dangerous situations.

Even so, it doesn’t mean that turtles stand no chance in front of cats.

How do turtles protect themselves from cats?

Turtles have survived throughout ages through their shells. The same thing protects them from cats.

Without their shells, turtles are nothing but meat that any cat will devour with ease.

They make it challenging with their hard shells, and even near impossible for cats to have their way.

Turtles are famous for being slow movers. Thus, their shell seems to compensate for it.

Many prominent predators can break a turtle shell with their bites. Even so, a grown turtle’s shell is enough to withstand any cat play, no matter how aggressive the cat maybe.

Now, let’s get to the perspective of a cat.

Will a cat kill a turtle?

Suppose it comes to the intention, Yes. A cat will kill a turtle. Cats are born hunters and carnivores.

Thus, a turtle that has meat will be nothing but a potential snack for a cat.

Aside from the hunter in them, cats are curious animals. A house cat doesn’t need to hunt food, indeed, since their owners give them their food.

Even so, that fact doesn’t mean they won’t stop hunting. No matter how much food you give, a cat will play and attack any turtle or any animal they see.

A cat’s playfulness doesn’t stop when it’s full. Thus, if a cat sees any opportunity with a turtle, it will go for it.

As far as intentions go, cats will kill a turtle for sure. Now, the question is: Can they kill turtles?

Can a cat kill a turtle?

As easy as it is to catch turtles, the difficult it is to kill them.

Turtles may not have the speed to escape and the killing tools to fight back. Even so, they have hard shells that are quite difficult to break.

A simple toss and push from a cat won’t be harmful to the turtle with a cat play.

There may be instances where a turtle’s area is on high ground, and a cat play may invite a fall.

A cat may get in luck from time to time to break a turtle’s shell. However, relying only on the cat, a turtle shell won’t falter.

That doesn’t mean a cat will stop once the turtle manages to get inside his shell.

A cat’s hunting skill can be quite handy in these kinds of play.

Related – What about ants? Check out – Do cats eat ants?

How do cats eat turtles?

A cat has skills enough to win a hunt against a turtle prey. When it comes to gifts, the cat can win by one single technique – stalking.

Cats aren’t only great hunters, but also stalkers. A hunting cat stalks its prey, following it and getting as near as it can.

Once the cat is near enough, it will pounce and grab the prey, making it impossible to escape.

While a turtle may have no intentions to run, it will hide in its shell.

Some cats are good enough to stay stalking near the shell. At some point, the turtle will go out of its housing to be able to move.

A quick bit to the head will end the turtle. Further, if a cat couldn’t grab the head with a bite, it may scratch them with its paws to slow them down.

An injured turtle will be slow enough to get back to its shell. Thus, a victory for the cat.

Adult Turtles

A cat hunting an adult turtle may not likely win. The reason is that adult turtles are familiar with going back and forth inside the shell.

Further, as turtles grow older, their shell gets more sturdy and resistant to attacks.

Young turtles still have shells that are soft enough to get damage from a cat’s attack.

If a cat is persistent enough, it may even destroy a young turtle’s shell in a few attacks.

Even so, against an adult’s hard shell and experience, a cat will likely get tired from trying.

Turtle Eggs & Nestlings

Turtle eggs and nestlings are easy targets for many animals and the same thing for cats.

Even so, most turtle eggs and nestlings are on the shores, where cats aren’t likely around.

If a cat lives near the shores, it may get turtle eggs and nestlings and other small predators.

With these facts about cats and turtles, you may think both animals can’t coexist together.

The truth is, they can.

Do cats and turtles get along?

While it is unusual, cats and turtles can share some spaces. These particular instances are possible if both cats and turtles are adults.

A cat wouldn’t bother a grown turtle, especially if it’s a big one. Even if they do, they can be little to no harm to turtles.

For a baby turtle, though, that will pose a problem. A cat can quickly grab and play with a baby turtle.

Since the shell of baby turtles are still developing, they can be quite vulnerable. Thus, even if you trained your cat well, it’s not ideal for placing both animals together.

With proper introduction and training, both pets can live in the same house.

Even so, that doesn’t mean you can leave the two unsupervised.

If you aren’t around, the best thing is to keep them separated. Only put both your pet cat and pet turtle together under your watch.

RelatedDo cats eat squirrels?

How can you protect your pet turtles from your pet cat?

Owning both a cat and a turtle and keeping them together may be challenging. It’s challenging due to their relationship as prey and predator.

Even so, both pets are nonetheless trainable, and they can learn to coexist through time and training. Below are some steps you can take for the safety of both animals.

Introduce both pets to each other

While turtles have shells to protect them, they can still suffer from stress in a cat’s presence.

Thus, if you wish to own both cats and turtles at a single area, do it with proper introductions.

Place your pet turtle in a place where it can be near cats. Let both animals study each other, and only intervene if you think the cat may harm the turtle.

Some cats and turtles learn to coexist together, and they can do it given some specific time.

At some point, your cat may get used to having the turtle around that it will only stop playing with it. For turtles, they may ignore your cat.

Whatever happens, always supervise them.

Always supervise both animals

Time may come when your cat won’t bother your pet turtle anymore. Even so, it does not mean that your turtle is entirely safe.

Cats have a wildness in them that will stay no matter how long you train them.

The best thing to do is to supervise both animals. Do so, especially if they are together, to avoid unwanted incidents to happen.

What other animals eat turtles?

A turtle’s predators depend on its species as well as its location. Cats usually prey on land turtles.

Aside from cats, land turtles should watch out for the following predators:

  • Skunks
  • Raccoons
  • Gulls
  • Foxes
  • Ravens
  • Weasels
  • Crows
  • Herons
  • Alligators

Sea turtles have the following predators:

  • Killer whales
  • Sharks

Do you want to know if cats eat ferrets or snails? Check it out!


  • Cats do eat turtles, though not usually. Cats may be born hunters and have the intent to hunt a turtle, but turtles can be hard to kill, especially the adult ones.
  • Turtles are prey to cats simply because they are slow and available nearby.
  • Turtles are slow because they don’t need the speed to hunt or to escape.
  • Turtles protect themselves from cats and any other predators by their shells.
  • A cat has every intention to kill a turtle, but the question is if they can kill one.
  • While the shell may be sturdy, cats can stalk turtles with patience, to grab them as soon as they come out.
  • Cats can eat baby turtles, eggs, and nestlings while finding adult ones difficult.
  • Even though it’s unusual, cats and turtles can learn to coexist together. It is possible through proper training.
  • There are a few things you can do to protect your turtle from your cat.
  • Aside from cats, other animals also eat turtles.
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