For many cat owners, the sight of their beloved pet bringing home a dead bird or mouse can be unsettling. However, this behavior is common, and it is important to understand what compels domestic cats to hunt and share their prey.
Hunting is their instinct
When a cat brings a dead animal home, it’s likely instinctive behavior. Even domesticated cats retain the instincts of their wild ancestors, who relied on hunting to survive. In the wild, cats hunt to catch prey to eat, and they also bring dead prey back to their den or territory to share with other cats in their group. Even though domestic cats don’t need to hunt for food, the instinct to hunt is still present.
To keep you fed
Just as they hunt instinctually, domestic cats are likely instinctually compelled to share the fruits of their labor with their families. Female cats are typically the hunters of cat groups, and they bring their winnings home to feed their kittens and other members of the pack. Even though you aren’t a feline, your cat sees you as part of the group and is inclined to share their kills with you. After all, who wouldn’t appreciate a fresh rat?!
Can I stop my cat from bringing home dead animals?
Even though your cat’s intentions are good, discovering a dismembered rodent in your home is never ideal. Not to mention, if your cat eats their prey, there is an increased risk of them contracting parasites and illnesses or even ingesting poison. Fortunately, you can discourage your cat’s tendency to hunt in a few ways.
· Put a bell on their collar. A bell will help alert your cat’s prey that they are coming and make it more difficult for them to sneak up on critters like mice and birds.
· Keep your cat indoors. Keeping your cat indoors helps them stay safe and protects the wildlife in your immediate area. Cats are believed to be responsible for decimating songbird populations in the US, so keeping your cat indoors is a win for their prey and for you!
· Provide lots of toys. You won’t be able to curb your cat’s instinct to hunt, but you can help draw their attention away from live animals by providing a selection of compelling toys for them to play with.
The Bottom Line
Cats hunt and share their prey because it’s their instinct. While you may not be able to change their tendency to hunt, taking steps to discourage it will protect your cat, the wild animal population, and your own peace of mind!