Cats and dogs were once introduced into homes because of their ability to catch and remove wild critters, such as rats and mice. Although they might have come across an opossum or raccoon once or twice, they are less commonly encountered in homes and buildings, or were once less commonly encountered. The situation has changed quite a lot over recent years, and all sorts of weird and wonderful critters are now getting braver and moving in right alongside us … whether we want them to or not.
Cats might do a good job at keeping wild critters at bay by leaving scents all around the place, but that can actually have the opposite effect. Rather then repelling wild animals, it can draw them in closer. Rats and mice are not actually as afraid of cats as we have been led to believe, and many household cats just wouldn’t know what to do if they were faced with a full-sized adult rat. They can be large, angry, and quite vicious. In many instances, the cat will actually come out of the fight worse.
Opossums are thought of as similar to rats, although they are a bit larger in size. That means they come with slightly more severe threats, although, thankfully, rabies is not one of them. An opossum is going to do quite some damage to a cat or dog if that cat or dog were to attack it. Although the opossums’ first instinct is going to be to play dead, there is no guarantee that the scenario will play out that way, especially if the opossum can’t find a way out. If teeth and claws are needed, the animal will bring them into battle, and those teeth and claws can leave some nasty wounds on your pet, which may then spread disease, get infected, or need costly veterinary treatment. Perhaps even an unlucky combination of all three?
When you have a cat, you will also have cat food. This is what lures the creatures in, despite you thinking that the smell of a cat — urine and feces included — might deter them well away. It is pet food that acts as the common attractant for many wild critters in residential areas, when it’s not unprotected fruits or vegetables growing in the backyard, or a garbage bag that can easily be ripped open.
Will a cat keep an opossum away? No.
Should you let your cat chase a possum away? No.
You should keep your pets entirely separate from any wild critters, particularly opossums, and any interactions should be treated and checked out by a pet medical expert as soon as possible.