Owning cats and owning fish seem to be two opposite goals. After all, how many cartoons and books discuss the … delicate relationship between cats and fish? You don’t have to give up your cat for a fish tank, or the option of having fish in favor of your cat. With a few tweaks to your tank and a little bit of training for your cat, you can have both living in harmony before long.

1. Cats Don’t Like Water, Just Fish!
Use this to your advantage. Put together a spray bottle and keep it near your tank or somewhere close at hand. When your cat reaches for the tank or jumps up on the stand, quickly squirt them! Though the fish may still appeal, the squirt of water will deter them and they will put two and two together and stop bothering your fish.

2. Invest in a Good Lid
This is a must for certain species of fish anyway, but just in case you haven’t gotten a lid for your tank, now is the time. Make sure the lid is tight-fitting so that your cat can’t hook its claws in the screening and lift it off.

3. Don’t Give Them Standing Room
Make sure that your tank is high enough off the ground and on a stand that won’t give your cat the room to stand. If they can’t get up to the lid then they can’t reach in and go fishing.

4. Keep Them Separated
Don’t keep your cat tree and toys in the same area as your fish tank. Many cat trees are six feet tall with multiple platforms at varying heights. If you keep them near your tank they may still be able to stretch out and go fishing! It’s best to keep them at least across the room from one another, if not in separate rooms. You will also want to make sure that there aren’t any chairs or tables tall enough for the cat to hop on and fish from. Cats are clever, so they will learn not to jump on the tank but will always search for an alternative.

5. Distraction!
If your fish seem to be interested in your tank because of the bright, shiny moving objects, consider giving them an alternative source of entertainment. There are a number of “babysitting” DVDs that offer backyard birds and even aquarium fish; though it may be confusing for your cat to offer them some fish that are okay to play with and others that they cannot play with. Still, these DVDs keep the cats occupied and interested in animals that aren’t your fish, and that’s the goal.