cat hunting instincts

Cat Hunting Behavior

Cats evolved into very effective hunters. Their breeding and instincts drive them to predatory behavior. It is normal and natural. Understand why your cat does what he does.

Hunting in Cats


Dear Simba - I am a long time cat owner but never had a problem like this before.
I am aware that a spayed female cat with no young of her own tends to bring unpleasant gifts home to her people (rodents, etc). My cat, a spayed female with no young of her own, has brought home 4 rodents in this past month alone. She tends to try to bring them into the house and into the kitchen where I keep her feeding trays.

I have read the books saying that I should not become angry at her for bringing these things home instead I should take the rodent and dispose of it. But I'm not really thrilled about having to constantly take road kill from her feeding tray and disposing of it.

Is there any way I can discourage this behavior? Gabby
Dear Gabby,
I wish there were a way to discourage this, but you can no more discourage her hunting and bringing home the catch than you can discourage her from being a cat.

Keepers of outdoor cats know one thing, kitty loves to bring in dead little animals. This is one of the more distressing things in kitty's bag of tricks.

So why does kitty do this?
Cats are predators by nature and are amongst the best hunters in nature. It is their hunting skills, especially their ability to kill mice, that brought cats & people together. Cats were domesticated by farmers thousands of years ago to help them protect their crops from rodents and other animals. This is augmented by the fact that cats hunt even when they are full. Because kitty views people as either parents or children that need help, he feels compelled to bring us food. In essence kitty is trying to do his "fair share" for the family. This is coupled with kitty's desire to save his 'earnings' makes it more of a problem. Cats have a natural desire to store food for more scarce times. An example in nature is that of the leopard placing a catch in a tree. To our cats, our homes are those trees and are thus the place where the catch is brought and stored.

Other than keeping kitty an indoor cat, there is little you can do. Continue disposing of the catch as you are doing (please rubber gloves while disposing of the catch and wash thoroughly after handling these animals). Consider moving the feeding tray to another area so that the kitchen does not become the central depository. Also, be aware that continued exposure to wilds of the outdoors puts your kitty at greater risk of injury and disease. - Simba


Hunting Breeds in Cats



Dear Simba,
I have been having some mouse problems and am considering getting a cat I have a couple of questions though. I heard that a spayed and neutered cats will not hunt as well as intact cats, is this true? Also is there a best "hunting" cat to get? Leeta

Dear Leeta,
The spaying/neutering does not affect a cat's natural instinct to hunt and kill prey. Cats are prolific hunters and a feline in your home will reduce the incidents of mice. So what breed to get?

Aside from the Norwegian Forest Cat(a large, furry creature), the American and British Shorthair cats are the best hunter cats out there. The British Shorthairs are healthy felines that have a calm, loyal and playful personality. They are thick-legged, heavyweight cats that can hunt very well. The American Shorthair is a descendent of the British version the pilgrims brought over in their voyage to the New World. The American version is natural hunters and cheerful lap cats. They have an even-temper and can be independent. Their natural agility makes them keen hunters. American shorthairs have a short, thick coat with a coarse texture. The most popular pattern is the tabby, with clear, dark stripes on a lighter background (this helps camouflage kitty). There are some things you need to be aware of.
  • Rodent Spray Common household sprays and pest control products can kill your kitty. If you have used any, be sure to clean thoroughly and remove any traces of mouse spray or poison before letting kitty loose in the house. Eliminate all traps as well.

  • Nutrition While catching mice is natural, do not rely on these critters to be the source of nutrition for your cat. Be sure to feed him a good nutritious diet(see Feeding & Weight Issues for tips). Mice are his hobby (he will enjoy it and do it well), but only a good round diet will keep him healthy.

  • Rodents Carry Parasites Rodents have all sorts of Fleas & Parasites that can affect your cat. Be sure to keep all his Kitten Vaccine Schedule up to date and give use a flea collar. I recommend also that you keep him an indoor cat, and let him attack those critters that make it inside. See Outdoors for more information on this.
In addition to a hunter, you will gain a friend. Take care of him. Keep me posted. Simba