No, possums do not eat cats.
They may occasionally attack a cat if they feel their young are threatened, if they are cornered (though they are more likely to play dead in these situations) or if they are competing for food.
Possums are survivalists and pacifists by nature so cat owners shouldn’t be worried about possums harming their pets, it’s more likely that a cat would attack a possum.
They may fight (see the video further down the page) although even this is rare, but possums hunting cats as prey is extremely unlikely.
What Should You Do To Keep Your Cat Safe From Possums?
- Don’t leave out pet food.
- Pick up any fallen fruit.
- Secure trash cans.
- Clean up any waste they can use to make a den.
- Use a possum deterrent.
Statistics about Possums
- Possums can be found in most eastern states, as far north as Canada.
- Originally from Central America, they have migrated north.
- A female can produce 1-3 litters a year.
- Only one in ten survive to adulthood.
- The birthing season is between February-June.
- There are eight to nine ‘joeys’ per litter.
- Originally found only east of the Rockies, they can now be found on the Pacific coast.
- They are smaller in the tropics.
Anecdotal Evidence Of Possum Attacks On Cats
It is hard to find any wild stories or any real evidence that says that possums do eat cats. You might find videos that show cats fighting possums, but they will probably show a cat giving the possum the old one-two, slaps around the chops, for daring to steal its food.
Most of the time possums and cats can coexist in peace. They may not be bosom buddies, but they tolerate each other. That is until some feisty cat gets annoyed because its food is being stolen.
Possums are the only marsupials native to North America. They have many predators and virtually no defense against them. As omnivores, they will anything along to the food chain from insects to mammals, but those are mainly carrion or roadkill. An animal has to be very small, very weak, and defenseless for a possum to attack it as food.
Possums have been known to kill newborn young of other small animals, but it isn’t habitual behavior for these creatures. Despite their appearance, they are cowardly. It’s truly amazing that they have survived for so long. Seen as pests by some, they can actually be beneficial to have around your property.
As omnivores, they are scavengers. They will clean up any edible waste in your garden. Possums are also resistant to most snake venoms, and surprisingly, attack snakes.
These creatures are both nomadic and stationary, they mark out hunting territories with scent. When the pickings are good they stay awhile, and when food becomes scarce, they move on.
Their eyesight and hearing aren’t so good, but they an excellent sense of smell. Their prehensile tail helps them climb and move through trees. Unlike some wild mammals, they are immune to rabies and Lyme’s disease. Possums are also voracious eaters of ticks.
In one study it was discovered that one possum could consume 40,000 ticks in one week by hunting and self-grooming.
They are considered to be more intelligent than cats.
Even when confronted with a predator, they will use the infamous “playing possum” technique to appear dead and avoid an actual brawl.littlethings.com
Cats vs Possums
As mentioned, possums are mostly cowardly and pacific. It is more likely that an aggressive cat would come out on top in a match between the two.
When sufficiently scared, a possum will play dead, which ends the fight right there.
As they have virtually no other way of defending themselves against threats they use this defense mechanism. It’s called tonic immobility or thantosis. When frightened enough an involuntary reaction takes place and the possum falls into a catatonic or comatose state.
This can last a few minutes or up to 6 hours. This is where the famous saying ‘playing possum’ comes from.
It lies on its side, mouth, and eyes open, tongue hanging out, emitting a green fluid from its anus whose putrid odor repels predators.Wikipedia
Cats at Risk
It is doubtful that any cat, even it is old or infirm, will be at risk from a possum.
Maybe defenseless newborn kittens may become a target for a very hungry possum or one that is suckling young, as possums are opportunists, but the evidence points to the fact that cats aren’t on the regular menu.
It comes from a characteristic of the Virginia opossum, which is famous for pretending to be dead when threatened.American Midland Naturalist
How to Keep Possums Away
- Don’t leave pet food out
- Clear away any garden debris they can use as a den
- Pick up fallen fruit.
They are resistant to diseases such as rabies because of their low body temperature and efficient immune system.10-facts-about.com
Other Pets at Risk
Your other pets probably wouldn’t come to any harm from possums, unless they are rodents and cockroaches.
Cat owners shouldn’t be overly worried about Possums.
Cats are well able to take care of themselves when they encounter possums.
As there seems to be a mutual tolerance between the two species, any kind of conflict is extremely rare.