I Was recently contacted by a friend and fellow funky family member who had just adopted the most beautiful cat. She invested in the best food, litter, and toys. This rescue kitty could want for nothing, however, he had what seemed to be a nasty habit of bringing in dead rats and leaving in the living room. This isn't the first time I've heard of this behavior so decided to learn more about why cats bring in dead animals. (Dogs do as well, but that’s for another blog!)
It turns out our cute house cats have retained their feral hunting instincts from thousands of years ago.
Statistically spayed female cats are most likely to bring home glory gifts to their owners. Their mothering instincts have kicked in and this is how they teach their kittens to hunt and eat.
First: they bring home a completely dead animal to teach the kittens how to eat it
Second:they bring almost dead animals so the kittens learn how to kill
Third: they finally bring back fully live Critters so the kittens can do the whole deal themselves.
Maybe look at it this way: you know your cat thinks of you as incompetent if they bring you dead critters. Kudos to you if they bring you live ones, your cat is confident you are competent and can get the job done!
There is also an element of bonding with their humans and that explains why male cats also bring in gifts.
So what to do about this?
- Put a bell on their collar. This alerts their prey and they are less likely to catch as many “gifts”
- Keep your cat home during sunrise and sunset, as these are the prime hunting times.
- Play with your cat more. Use a toy on a string to replicate a critter’s movements. Let your cat stalk, pounce and catch the toy.
- Dispose of the dead animal without a fuss. The more energy you give it, your cat will associate with attention. After you get rid of your well intended prize, replace it with a catnip filled toy. Your cat will most likely forget about the critter and associate fun with the toy.
Happy toy hunting!