For millennia cats and humans have lived together in the same homes; one of the many reasons for this is rodent control. Cats are often applauded for their mice hunting skills, but is this true of all cats? The answer is yes, it’s true that all cats can kill mice, but not for the reasons you may think.
Why Do Cats Kill Mice?
Cats were domesticated around 12,000 years ago, which is a relatively short amount of time. When humans began settling and building agricultural communities, they also began storing grain. The grain attracted rats, and the rats attracted cats. People provided a steady food source, and cats provided pest control, so the cats stuck around.
Cats used to hunt mice for food, but modern domestic cats hunt for fun. Cats are born with natural hunting instincts that they enjoy using; they love the thrill of the hunt and not necessarily the end product. In fact, most of the time, a cat won’t even eat the mouse after finishing it off; they’ll leave it there or sometimes bring it back to their owners.
Cats tend to hunt smaller creatures like birds, lizards, and mice because of their rapid movements. The animals create a fast-paced chase that the cat enjoys. Rats are larger and may opt to fight instead of run, which may make for a less-than-ideal chase for some cats.
Do Cats Keep Mice Away?
Cats keep mice under control by hunting, but do they act as repellants? Yes, and studies have shown that the smell of a cat is enough to keep mice at bay. If mice smell a cat on your property, they will likely avoid it. Even if your cat isn’t a very good hunter, their presence alone might still be enough to keep mice away.
Is it Safe for Cats to Eat Mice?
Cats rarely eat mice they’ve hunted, but if you see your cat eating a mouse, should you stop them? Ideally you should due to the possible risks associated with their consumption.
Mouse bones can quickly get stuck in your cat’s throat, and it’s best to ensure they don’t eat their latest kill. Removing a bone requires a vet visit, but preventing your pet from consuming mice is a safer option.
Rat poison can be a big threat to cats; if you haven’t put out rat poison, your neighbors might have. If a cat ingests a poisoned mouse, it can be poisoned. If you think your cat has eaten a poisoned mouse, immediately take them to the vet.
Mouse bones are tiny and, once chewed up, become sharp. Once your cat swallows them, they can cut your cat’s intestinal tract; this is rare but still a possibility.
Mice can have parasites that they transmit to cats when they eat them. Your cat can wind up with Toxoplasmosis or roundworms.
Symptoms of Toxoplasmosis include weight loss, lethargy, fever, loss of appetite, and pneumonia. Roundworms can cause vomiting, dull coats, worms in their feces, weight loss, and diarrhea.
If you believe your cat has contracted a parasite after eating a mouse, get them examined by the vet.
All cats are capable of killing mice; it’s likely the primary reason they became domesticated in the first place. Cats naturally enjoy hunting prey for the chase itself and typically won’t eat their prey. If you see your cat eating a mouse, the best practice is to try to stop them from continuing so as to prevent various medical problems.
Featured Image Credit: Stefan_Sutka, Shutterstock