If you’ve got a pet cat that you share your warm, comfortable home with, feed generously and provide love and attention when (and only when) it calls for it, you might ask why that same cat feels the need to prowl outside hunting for extra meals, or even meals for you, brought into the house still alive!
If you’ve had to clean up after your cat vomiting and diarrhea too, when it’s managed to upset its stomach eating something other than the expensive, nutritionally balanced cat food you buy, then that question might be even more pointed.
Today we’re looking at this question so you can understand your friendly, furry predator a little better.
Do All Cats Hunt?
While there is a degree of instinct that underlies the stalking and pouncing behaviour your cat may show – whether that’s staring fixedly at birds in the garden, or playing with cat toys you’ve bought for the purpose – killing and eating prey is believed by some to be more of a learned behaviour. If you’ve adopted an older cat, it may have had more of an opportunity to pick up these behaviours. If you have had your cat from a kitten it may not!
Why Does My Cat Hunt Even Though I Feed It?
Hunting isn’t related to feeling full – cats that are well fed may hunt less frequently or with less intensity, but it can’t quash that instinct altogether. Keeping your cat healthily fed might help to reduce the chances of them eating food they catch (or, worse, find) for themselves, but you cannot eliminate the chance they might, and therefore the chance that might pick up parasites or a bug that could cause a bout of vomiting.
Why Does My Cat Bring Food Home?
If you’ve ever had to deal with a not quite completely hunted mouse – or even a bird – brought into your house and released by a pet cat, then you’ve actually been given a compliment!
Hunting cats frequently bring their prey to a place they feel secure to finish the kill and eat in peace. It might not be convenient (or indeed desired) but it shows you’ve created a home where your cat feels safe – and considers you part of the family. That half dead mouse could be a gift, intended for you to finish off…
Can I Stop My Cat Hunting?
Whether it’s out of concern for your cat or for the local wildlife, you might want to try and stop your cat from hunting.
There’s one very important thing to note first – overfeeding your cat will not work! They’ll still exercise their hunting instincts, and too much food can be very unhealthy – as it is for humans.
A bell with a collar on it can help frustrate your cat’s desire to silently stalk prey, but it’s important to make sure you replace the stimulation they get from hunting – it’s important for their mental health.
You can use toys to replicate the hunting experience – even something as simple as a piece of string can become part of a game simulating the experience of stalking prey for your cat. You could also try hiding food and snacks for your cat to find in the house. Helping your cat keep stimulated like this lets them exercise their hunting instinct harmlessly, leaving them with less energy and desire to go after living prey! In addition to these games, try keeping your cat indoors at key times: around sunrise and sunset, and the hour after heavy rainfall stops are when birds and wildlife are most active.