Last Updated on: August 23, 2023 by Crystal Uys
If you find yourself in a situation where your cat has brought you a mouse, it’s important not to panic. This is perfectly normal behavior for cats, even if it can be a little unsettling for us humans. Your cat isn’t trying to upset you – on the contrary! They’re likely displaying their hunting instincts or even showing affection.
What to Do If Your Cat Brings You a Mouse
If your cat presents you with a mouse, your first reaction might be to freak out. However, it’s essential to remain calm. Remember, your cat isn’t trying to upset you or make a mess. Instead, they’re following their natural instincts or trying to show you affection. They don’t understand that you might find their gift unpleasant.
Don’t Punish Your Cat
It’s crucial not to punish your cat for bringing you a mouse. They’re simply acting on their natural instincts and punishing them could confuse them or damage your relationship. Your cat won’t understand why they’re being punished for something that, in their eyes, should be rewarded. Instead of punishment, try to redirect their energy towards toys and playtime.
Thank Them Gently
While you don’t want to encourage the behavior, it’s important to acknowledge your cat’s hard work. A simple, gentle “thank you” will suffice. This can help maintain your bond with your cat without necessarily encouraging more hunting.
What to Do With the Mouse
If the Mouse Is Alive…
If the mouse is still alive when your cat brings it to you, try to trap it if possible. You can use a towel or blanket to catch the mouse, then gently release it outside, far away from your home to prevent it from returning.
If the Mouse Is Dead…
If the mouse is already dead, use gloves to remove it to avoid any potential diseases or parasites the mouse might be carrying. Dispose of it safely by placing it in a bag and putting it in the trash.
Preventing Future Hunting
Keep Your Cat Indoors
One of the most effective ways to reduce hunting behavior is by keeping your cat indoors, particularly at dawn and dusk when mice are most active. This can significantly decrease their opportunities to hunt.
Ensure your cat has plenty of toys and stimulation indoors to distract them from hunting. Interactive toys, puzzle feeders, and regular playtime can help satisfy their hunting instincts in a safer and cleaner way.
Use Bells on Collars
Another strategy is to use a bell on your cat’s collar. The sound of the bell can warn potential prey of their approach, giving them a chance to escape before your cat can catch them. This can reduce the number of successful hunts, and subsequently, the number of ‘gifts’ you receive.
Tips to Prevent Your Cat from Bringing You Mice
You can’t keep both eyes on your cat all day, so here are some tips to help keep the dead mice off your doorstep.
- Keep your cat indoors, particularly at dawn and dusk when mice are most active.
- Provide plenty of toys and stimulation to satisfy their hunting instincts in a safer way.
- Use a bell on their collar to warn potential prey of their approach.
- Regularly check your home for any cracks or holes that could allow mice to enter.
- Keep your yard and home clean and tidy to help deter mice from entering the area.
- Don’t allow your cat to eat any mice they catch as this could potentially be dangerous for them.
- If your cat gets sick after eating a mouse, contact your vet immediately.
- Neutering or spaying won’t necessarily reduce hunting behaviors in cats.
The Hunting Instinct
Cats are natural hunters, a trait that’s been ingrained in them from their wild ancestors. This instinct doesn’t disappear just because they live indoors or are well-fed. Hunting is more than just a way to get food for cats; it’s also an important part of their behavior that allows them to express their natural instincts and keep their skills honed. Even when provided with plenty of food, cats might still hunt for sport, practicing their skills and keeping themselves mentally and physically stimulated. It’s an activity that involves stalking, pouncing, and playing with their prey, which cats find incredibly entertaining.
Another reason cats often bring their owners “gifts” like mice is as a sign of affection. In the wild, mother cats teach their kittens how to eat by bringing home dead or injured prey. Your cat might see you as part of their family and feel the need to share their successful hunt with you. It’s a way for them to take care of you, show you that they trust you, and even try to teach you to hunt. While this behavior can be a bit gruesome, it’s a significant compliment in the world of cats.
Q: Why do cats hunt, even when they’re not hungry?
A: Cats hunt due to their natural instincts, not necessarily because they’re hungry. They are predators and hunting allows them to express these instincts and keep their skills sharp.
Q: My cat is well-fed. Why does it still hunt?
A: Even well-fed cats will often engage in hunting behavior. This is due to their instinctual drive to hunt and doesn’t necessarily indicate that they are hungry.
Q: Is it safe for my cat to eat a mouse?
A: While cats are capable of eating mice, it’s not always safe. Mice can carry diseases and parasites which could potentially be harmful to your cat.
Q: Can I train my cat to stop hunting?
A: It’s challenging to train a cat to stop hunting completely as it’s a natural instinct. However, you can provide alternative forms of stimulation to help reduce the behavior.
Q: Is hunting behavior more common in certain breeds of cats?
A: Hunting behavior is common in all cats, but some breeds may have a stronger hunting instinct than others. For example, breeds like the Siamese and Bengal are known for their strong prey drive.
Q: Are indoor cats less likely to hunt?
A: Indoor cats have fewer opportunities to hunt real prey, but they might still exhibit hunting behaviors with toys or other objects in the house.
Q: How can I keep mice out of my home and yard?
A: Regular pest control, sealing any holes or cracks in your home’s exterior, and keeping your yard clean can help deter mice.
Q: Can neutering or spaying affect a cat’s hunting behavior?
A: Neutering or spaying can reduce certain behaviors in cats, but it usually doesn’t have a significant impact on their hunting instincts.
Cats are natural hunters, and hunting behaviors in cats are incredibly common. However, it’s important to be aware of the risks associated with allowing your cat to hunt outdoors. Keeping them indoors, providing plenty of stimulation, using a bell on their collar and taking steps to deter mice from your home can all help reduce their hunting behavior and keep them safe.
Featured Image Credit: Markos Loizou, Shutterstock
About the author
Cat mom to Ivy – a feisty little rescue kitten that is her one and only child. For now! Throughout her life, she has been introduced to the special love that can be found in the bond with a cat. Having owned multiple felines, she is more than certain that their love is unmatched, unconditional and unlike any other. With a passion to educate the public about everything, there is to know about felines, their behavior, and their unique personalities, Crystal is devoted to making sure that all cats and their owners know the importance of conscious living – and loving!