The opossum is also popularly called "possum". It is one of the oldest mammals that has survived on earth, earning it the name ‘living fossil’. An adult possum is about the same size as a house cat, but has much shorter legs.
Possums are carnivores and will occasionally eat small animals and reptiles if they are left without a choice; they would even eat snakes. If they are spoiled for choice though, possums prefer mice, garden insects and carrion.
Possums are scavengers and will rarely attack larger animals at sight. They are more likely to bluff and keep to themselves when those come along. They are generally docile and non-aggressive animals, just looking to survive.
Cat and Possum Encounters
When threatened by bigger animals like cats and dogs or humans, the possum is adept at bluffing and putting up a show to cover for its basic fright and helplessness. One way by which the possum defends itself when cornered is to bluff by baring its formidable set of 50 teeth while growling in a crouched position. This show intimidates many animal and human would-be predators despite its small size.
When the bluffing does not work though, a possum will defend itself and this is common with possums protecting their young. This can result in the cat getting wounded, scarred or killed from the possum’s 50 big and sharp teeth and its sharp claws.
Talking about casualties ensuing from possum-cat encounters, it is more likely for cats to kill young possums than for possums to kill cats. The possum is more likely to bluff by baring its teeth and growling without attacking, or it could even play possum – pretend to be dead and remain so for an extended time if need be.
It is actually common to see a possum and a cat co-habiting peacefully; or just plain avoiding each other.
Parasites and Diseases
The real risk for pet owners in this instance is that of the possum transferring parasites like fleas and lice to the domestic cat, or even diseases. Toxoplasmosis for instance, is a disease that cats can easily get from the possum via contact with its urine, contaminated water, or soil.
Cat and Dog Encounters
The demeanor of the possum is the same as with a cat, but dogs are more excitable and are not likely to ignore the possum in return. If your dog bothers a possum, it may just get bitten by those sharp teeth.
It is best to keep your pets indoors when possums are around.
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