Why Does My Cat Bring Home Her Prey?
Have you ever had the nasty experience of finding some poor little dead creature slap-bang in the middle of your kitchen floor? Or, worse yet, has your 'oh so innocent looking cat' dropped a mutilated prey right at your feet and acted as if you should be pleased about it?
If things like the above have happened to you, you must have wondered why your cat does that. After all you feed her, and feed her well, don't you? So why does she feel the need to hunt wildlife, let alone bring the corpses or injured but still living creatures back home?
A well cared for domestic cat does not hunt through hunger. Just because she does not have the need to hunt doesn't mean that she doesn't have the instinct.
Cats are predators. When cats first moved in with humans thousands of years ago it was because of their proficient hunting skills. The cats learnt that where there were humans there were also rodents. The humans learnt just how accomplished cats are at catching and killing, thereby keeping the rodent population down. It was to be many years later that felines became thought of as pets and were kept primarily for their companionship.
"So OK, cats are natural born hunters, but why do they have to bring their catch home?"
There is more than one theory on this, but the most likely explanation is that your cat views you as an incompetent kitten who needs schooling in the ways of hunting. Spayed females are the most likely to bring home their catch. Kitty may be deprived of the ability to reproduce, but she does retain maternal instincts it seems.
"So she thinks I need to learn to go out and hunt food. But why does she bring back half-dead mice and other creatures?"
Usually the first catch a mother cat brings to her kittens will be dead. She will eat the prey in front of the kittens - this is food, and this is how you eat it. Then mom moves on to bringing home prey that she has injured and mangled. She will finish off her catch in front of her kittens - this is prey, and this is how you kill it. Finally she will start to bring home captured but unharmed creatures. Mom will let the prey go in front of her young ones and demonstrate to them how she stalks, pounces and catches - this is prey, and this is what you have to do before you can kill it and eat it.
"Well OK, my cat thinks that it is not enough that I know how to use a can opener, she thinks I should know how to hunt. It's nice of her to look after my interest but dead, half eaten or mutilated little animals disgust me. And I don't like her killing wildlife especially birds. How can I stop her?"
You can't take away her hunting instinct. Punishing her in any way would be futile. Even showing your distaste at her activities will probably confuse her, she has done you a service and you are unhappy about it!
Cats will hunt. Some more successfully than others but they will do it. The only way you can prevent them from hunting wildlife is to keep them indoors. If you prefer your cat to enjoy the outdoors fitting her out with a bell (attached to a breakaway collar for your cat's safety,) will go a long way in preventing her destroying wild birds.
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