Throughout the ages, cats have been taken into homes (and barns
and factories) for their hunting prowess, and specifically for
their mousing skills. Even Marie Antoinette’s cats — those
fabled to have been the antecedents of all
Maine Coons in some folk tales — were originally kept
as mousers. If those cats could do it, why not yours?
Well, mousing cats of yore often had short, difficult lives,
and unpleasant deaths. So, let’s get to the bottom of whether
you should allow your modern-day house cat to channel their
POSSIBLE DANGERS OF ALLOWING YOUR CAT TO HUNT RODENTS
In cities and suburbs, rodents
aren’t cute little cartoon-like creatures with big eyes and
pink ears. Some go by another name: rats. And what did rats
once spread? The plague! Rats and mice have many differences,
but share one key characteristic — they tend to carry
pests and disease.
There’s a long list of unpleasant diseases humans and cats can
get from rat infestations, including hantavirus, leptospirosis,
and a condition called rat-bite fever. Your house cat is
especially susceptible to these diseases if they’re eating the
Your cat could also be exposed to toxoplasmosis (the reason why pregnant
women are instructed to avoid litter boxes).
Mice are classic hosts for ticks.
Unlike fleas who go from birth to
blood meal to death, ticks require a dual-host scenario. They
are born, find an intermediary host, drop to the ground, then
find their final host. The final hosts are typically deer,
humans, or house pets. Their first host is often a mouse. If
your cat fraternizes with the host of your local tick
population, they could bring those pests straight into your
home. Your cat may contract Lyme
disease themselves, or they could bring the disease to
Mouse and rat poison do not work immediately. The poisons are often ingested a few days
before the rodent finally perishes. If your cat finds a mouse
during this period, they could be eating the poison along with
the animal. This could mean their end as well.
WHEN IS IT OKAY TO ALLOW A CAT TO CATCH MICE?
“Allow” is a funny term when applied to cat behavior. Cats are
somewhat trainable, but for the
most part they are their own people, and they make their own
decisions. We can make sure certain behaviors elicit a negative
association. But in the case of hunting, our response is not
likely to be immediate enough to do anything other than make
them frightened of us. So the question of whether or not to
allow hunting could be moot.
Mental Well Being: Nature vs. Nurture
cat people struggle with the conflict of whether to confine
their cats to the indoors. Indoor cats live undeniably longer lives. But what
sort of life is a life lived inside, passing each day by the
window to gaze longingly at the outside world? Everyone has
their own response to this question, and each family makes
their own decision accordingly.
The same question can be posed about whether to allow your cat
to hunt. Hunting mice and other creatures can indeed harm your
cat, in the ways mentioned above. Here’s the hard question: Is
the risk, perhaps, worth it?
BENEFITS OF ALLOWING YOUR CAT TO CATCH MICE
Allowing a cat to be a cat, to keep their deepest instincts
alive, in almost all cases, will equate to a happier cat. Cats
who are content, and who have an appropriate outlet for their
pent up energy, will often abstain from engaging in some of the
naughty household behaviors we scorn, like inappropriate
toileting or the destruction of furniture.
Better Than an Exterminator
Using your cat to catch some unwanted household visitors is
fairly common. It’s rodent control without poison, and more
humane to the pest than a sticky trap or a snap trap. Sometimes
the cat won’t even need to catch the mouse to have the desired
effect of driving the pest away. A cat’s lurking presence is
often enough to evict squatting rodents.
TIPS FOR HUNTING CATS
- Put a bell on your cat’s collar. They’ll get to tap into
the hunting instinct, but the sound of the bell may scare away
all but the slowest prey from capture.
- If possible, lock your cat door at night. Cats are
nocturnal, and prefer to hunt at night. Keeping them indoors
during these hours could reduce their success rate.
- If you decide to let your cat hunt, or suspect they may be
hunting despite your efforts, be sure to look out for these
warning signs of a sick cat.
Why Do Cats Chase Mice?
Cats catch and kill mice. That has been a well-known fact for
many years now. But what causes that reaction in cats to just
chase mice? Why the animosity? During ancient Egyptian times,
cats were most known for their valuable ability to catch and
kill the mice that infested the grain bins in the village. As
time passed, they became a valuable addition to every household
because of their helpful hunting abilities and overall
adorability. Cat instincts are sharp and vigilant. So even when
she seems content batting a catnip infused mouse toy with her
paw, she still craves the real thing.
Cats and mice
Cats, especially wild ones have no problem eating other types
of rodents as well. Mice are just easier prey. They are
relatively small which means that there is no chance that the
mouse will win a standoff while being cornered. Catching a
mouse just gives your cat a satisfaction that she won’t really
get from anywhere else. Another factor that makes the mouse a
desirable prey is the fact that unlike birds, they can’t escape
by flying away. Since ancient times, hunting has been somewhat
of survival instinct for cats. They have to hunt in order to
get food. They have to be vigilant and fight off bigger
creatures for survival.
Why do cats just need to
There is more of a substance known as 'Taurine' in a cat’s body
than in a dog’s. Taurine is an amino acid that is one of the
main building blocks of protein. In order to keep up their
taurine content, they need to keep hunting. Only meat can
provide a cat with enough taurine to keep going. A cat is an
obligatory carnivore which means that they have to be a
carnivore in order to survive.Cats are also born hunters. They
start getting that hunting instinct when they are merely six to
seven weeks old. Kittens usually learn how to hunt from their
mothers who bring back live prey for them to practice on.
Kittens who weren’t trained by their mothers often fail to make
a clean kill. That’s why household cats sometimes bring back a
live pet to their owners. To demonstrate that their hunting
abilities are above average. We all know that cats can be a
little needy at times, they seek appreciation from their
Why do cats play with their
All this is, is an overrated misconception. People think that
cats cruelly torture their preys before going in for the kill.
Although there is a lot of poking, scratching, and pouncing
involve, from the cat’s point of view, it is just self-defense.
Most animals have survival instincts that kick in when they’re
cornered.Cats love chasing and hunting mice. It brings both
them and you satisfaction. While she’s a valuable pet, she
might also be the reason behind why you don’t have a mouse
More on Cat Behaviors
5 Tips to Calm an Aggressive
The Benefits of a Playful
This information is for informational
purposes only and is not meant as a substitute for the
professional advice of, or diagnosis or treatment by, your
veterinarian with respect to your pet. It has, however, been
verified by a licensed veterinarian for accuracy.