Your cat provides you with love and companionship that can help reduce your stress.1 But if you’ve ever woken up to to a dead mouse by your bed, you might question your relationship! Your furry friend’s killer instincts may leave you wondering, why do cats bring you dead animals?
Your Cat is a Natural Hunter
While you might think of your cat as a furry ball of cuddles, cats evolved from wild animals. Your cat’s ancestors left them with a hunter’s instincts. No wonder kitty loves to catch and kill smaller animals! Domestic cats are still instinctive predators.
Cats were domesticated 10,000 years ago, but they still have the same old hunting drive. A study of cat psychology showed that they share many personality traits with their bigger cousins, lions. Cats still feel an impulse to stalk, chase, and kill live prey.2
Chasing and pouncing on anything may be irresistible – even things that aren’t traditional prey. That’s why cats love laser pointers, and why the sometimes attack your feet!3
Domestic cats don’t hunt prey because they’re hungry.
As it turns out, the instinct to hunt is separate from the drive to eat. Even well-fed cats hunt mice and small animals. That’s why domestic cats leave almost half of their kills to rot without eating them at all.4
If your cat hasn’t been spayed or neutered, they may hunt more. This may mean the hunting drive is tied to an instinct to care for kittens.5
Why Do Cats Bring You Dead Animals?Your Cat Brings You Prey
So, why does your cat bring you their prey? The fact is, there are many reasons, such as:
They’re Teaching You to Hunt
Female cats are more likely to bring you dead or injured prey than male cats. One theory is that they’re trying to feed you and teach you how to hunt.
If they had kittens of their own, this would be a first step in teaching their babies to catch their own food.6
They’re Giving You a Gift
In some cases, dead or injured animals really are gifts. Your cat is showing affection for the humans she lives with. It’s not the present you wanted, but it’s the thought that counts, right? 7
Your cat only brings about a quarter of her kills to you. For every mouse or squirrel gift you find on your back porch, your cat probably killed about three more, and either left them behind or ate them.8
How to Stop Your Cat’s Hunting
Dealing with your cat’s killer instincts is challenging. But there are ways to keep a cat’s prey drive under control. Doing so will save the lives of critters, and it will also benefit your cat!
Your cat has the drive to hunt, but that doesn’t mean you’re doomed to wake up to a massacre. Luckily, there are a few ways to reduce the amount of live-prey hunting your cat does. Keeping this impulse under control can help you and your cat be more sustainable.
Why You Should Control Your Cat’s Hunting Instinct
You already know how annoying (and gross) it is to deal with the bodies of dead animals. But your cat’s hunting isn’t just about you and your cat. It can also have major environmental impacts.
- Tame and feral cats are responsible for killing countless numbers of birds and mammals. Some of these prey animals include members of endangered species.9
- Cats kill more birds and other animals than vehicles, or collisions with turbines and buildings.10
- Cats are listed as one of the world’s 100 worst invasive species because of their effect on populations of native prey animals.11
- On some islands, where native animal populations are small, cats are a key extinction driver for more than one in five species.12
Your cat can’t tell the difference between a protected endangered species or a snack. Even though they may mean well, if your cat hunts a lot, there’s a chance they could be negatively affecting their environment. could be wreaking havoc on the environment.
Keep Your Cat’s Hunting in Check
Cats have a powerful hunting instinct. That may leave you feeling like there’s nothing you can do to stop your feline from killing mice and other animals. But you can make some small changes that will save the lives of prey animals and keep your kitty happy.
- Cats love to hunt, but they’re not picky about what they’re hunting. Find toys your cat can chase, catch, and “kill.” This will also give your cat healthy exercise.13
- Keep your cat inside. This will keep kitty away from outdoor prey animals, but indoor cats may still kill mice or other critters that get into the house. Staying indoors also keeps your cat safe from cars, larger animals, and other dangers outside.14
- Find a pet-safe bell or another noisy item you can put on your cat’s collar. Outdoor cats are stealthy and quiet, but bells can cut the number of your cat’s successful kills by about a third.15
Keeping your cat’s killing impulses in check will help it stay safer and healthier. Plus, it’s good for the environment.
Caring for Your “Gift”- Giving Cat
Your cat means well when they bring you an unwanted “gift.” You can repay the favor by playing with her and giving her toys to help satisfy her prey drive. Positive attention will help your cat resist the need to kill mice and give you both peace of mind.
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