Although cats have many traits that their owners enjoy, there are a few that make us wonder why they do some of the things they do. One of those habits that cat owners wonder about is their habit of hunting and bringing us dead animals.
Why do cats bring you dead animals? Cats bring their owner’s dead animals act on their natural instincts and try to provide for us, whom they see as part of their families.
This video demonstrates how even an inside cat will hunt mice when necessary. These instincts are highly developed in cats.
- 1 Why Do Pet Cats Hunt?
- 2 How Does Social Structure Make Cats Bring You Dead Animals?
- 3 Is Your Cat Looking for a Food Change When Bringing You Dead Animals?
- 4 Do Cats Ever Bring Home Animals That Are Still Alive?
- 5 How Do I Stop a Cat From Killing Animals?
- 6 Will Keeping a Cat in the House Eliminate Hunting?
- 7 Cats Have Reasons for Bringing You Dead Animals
Why Do Pet Cats Hunt?
Cats have strong hunting instincts that are no reflection of their temperaments as pets. The desire to hunt is instinctual and has helped cats survive for thousands of years. Because cats were initially used for mousing, they retain hunting instincts.
According to PetFirst Pet Insurance, these instincts can’t be trained out of a cat. Most kittens learn to hunt “prey” from their mothers.
Although animal behaviorists have differing opinions, the common belief is that cats see humans as a part of their family, possibly even as parent figures. However, cats are believed to regard us as being poor or inadequate hunters.
When a cat brings back a kill, it may be signaling that it thinks poorly of your hunting skills and is trying to show you what to do. This behavior helps show your rank in the cat’s family.
Some experts see its hunting activities as a way of bringing you a treat. Although seeing a dead mouse or bird on your doorstep might be jarring, avoid correcting your cat because it won’t understand why you are doing so.
How Does Social Structure Make Cats Bring You Dead Animals?
According to Anja H. of Pettsie, cats often bring you dead animals for reasons that have nothing to do with your perceived lack of hunting abilities.
Cats will often bring owners their kills as a way of showing appreciation. Bringing a dead bird, mouse, or another small animal can be their way of trying to take care of you. Because cats don’t see humans hunting, the assumption is that you need care.
Although not as common in cats as in dogs, some cats are responsive to praise from their humans. Bringing you something that your cat thinks you might eat is a common way to look for positive attention.
If your cat is a female, she might see you as a sort of surrogate kitten. Bringing dead animals to you is a part of this behavior, which is sometimes common in spayed females who have never had a litter.
Sometimes cats will bring back kills as a type of trophy. A cat that has such strong hunting skills is one that is a hunter to be reckoned with. Cats that successfully kill prey are likely to gain the respect of other household cats.
Is Your Cat Looking for a Food Change When Bringing You Dead Animals?
Many wonders if a cat that keeps bringing its owner dead animals has become bored with its diet and is looking for something new. Although raw meat without any other ingredients is not the best for your cat, there are benefits to raw diets.
Margaret Gates emphasizes that raw diets offer a lot of unique benefits for your cats. A raw diet commercial food can provide a needed change for your cat.
Regardless of whether you go to a raw diet or not, using minimally processed food is always a winning solution for your cat. Remember that cats have gone through life with humans for centuries without processed foods.
If you think your cat might be craving more meat, there are a couple of changes you can make. Consider adding some more wet food to your cat’s diet. Alternately, you might consider adding freshly cooked meat, like chicken, turkey, or fish.
Do Cats Ever Bring Home Animals That Are Still Alive?
According to Morgan Cutolo, cats will sometimes bring home animals that aren’t dead. Although there is a reason for this that makes sense to cats, it can be a bit unnerving.
A cat that brings you an animal without killing it might be looking for playtime. When cats are still kittens, this is one of the ways their mothers teach them how to hunt. Even when cats have never loved outside, these are instincts likely to be retained.
When your cat initiates play, it is showing that its respects your place in its family. Scolding your cat for bringing you the prey is inappropriate. The cat won’t understand why you are correcting it for something that comes naturally.
If your cat’s prey is still alive but appears uninjured, consider confining it to a container to transport it outside for release. Should the animal have injuries that make its release outside impossible, contact a wildlife rehabilitator for guidance?
Consider getting your cat some toys that help stimulate its prey drive when indoors. If your cat has toys to play with that simulate hunting, it will be less likely to hunt prey outdoors. You’ll be less likely to see “gifts” brought to your doorstep.
Catnip-filled and wand toys are ideal for giving your cat the proper stimulation. One of the advantages of interactive play is that the cat will associate these activities with time spent with you. The less reward for hunting outside, the better.
How Do I Stop a Cat From Killing Animals?
The Healthy Pet Club highlights a few steps cat owners can take to cut down on the number of animals that cats kill outside.
Hang birdfeeders high enough that they are out of reach of ledges and other objects that a cat can access. If possible and appropriate for the birds you feed, consider mounting the feeder on a pole. Poles are also good for keeping squirrels out.
Consider keeping your cat indoors around sunrise and sunset. These are the times of day that birds and rodents are the most likely to feed. Your cat is most likely to get hold of small animals during this time.
Use a collar with a bell to scare off animals your cat is stalking. When using one of these collars, consider a safety collar that breaks off if it gets caught. You may also want to consider a cat bib, which disrupts hunting movements.
Will Keeping a Cat in the House Eliminate Hunting?
According to American Humane, there are many health issues that can affect outside cats, as well as other hazards. Cats that live inside skip these.
Cats that are allowed outside, unless vaccinated, can catch contagious diseases. Birds and rodents like mice also carry viruses and other diseases that can spread to people. You can avoid the risk of infection by limiting your cat’s access to the outdoors.
Cats who are hunters can quickly become the hunted if their prey attracts loose dogs or other animals. In areas with foxes, coyotes, or bobcats, large numbers of birds or rodents are likely to attract these predators, risking your cat’s safety.
Many people use toxins to get rid of rodents and some birds. The problem is that cats can end up ingesting these toxins if they eat birds that have eaten them. Some of these poisons do not show symptoms until a lot of damage is done.
Keeping your car indoors eliminates all of these problems. If you should allow your cat to enjoy outdoor time, consider keeping it leashed or using a cat enclosure. You will be able to stop your cat’s kills and keep it safer.
Cats Have Reasons for Bringing You Dead Animals
Even though this may seem like a nuisance behavior, it helps demonstrate your cat’s ability to take care of itself. When your cat brings you a “gift,” it is demonstrating its concern for and acceptance of you.