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Blog - cat behaviour

​Why do cats bring back 'presents'?!

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It’s that time of year for many cat owners to see an increase in the number of unwanted presents brought into the home by the household cats. These gifts often include mice, voles, birds, and sometimes even larger animals such as rabbits. No one likes coming downstairs to see such presents and it can be even more stressful if the animal is still alive. So why do cats bring us these little gifts?

Your Cat’s Not Hungry

Some people think that perhaps the cat is hungry, that they go and hunt to fill their tummies, but this isn’t the case. Studies have shown that well fed cats will continue to hunt, it’s in their blood. These incredible creatures are born to hunt, they kill billions of small animals each year. They aren’t evil, they are carnivores that have retained their natural instincts despite being domesticated over 10,000 years ago.

However, rather than eating their prey, cats tend to hunt, play, and then kill (but not always) without eating. Instead, the prey is brought home and presented. Some cats will vocalise their arrival through the door when they have an animal to present as a gift. They are proud and they want you to see and for good reason. Cats are trying to pass down their skills like they would if they had offspring, but because they don’t have any, so they are teaching you instead, their family.

Your cat knows you don’t have these vital hunting skills, so they are trying to share their expertise, preventing you from starving to death by teaching you the way of the hunt. They are doing you a favour! Therefore, it’s wise not to get mad or angry at these unwanted gifts, remember your cat is doing what has been passed down to them for thousands and thousands of years.

Preventing Cats from Killing Wildlife

It is practically impossible to stop cats from killing other animals. Even cats in the home will find spiders, moths, and other household critters to pounce on and chew. There are ways you can limit their impact on your local wildlife, which are as follows:

  • 1.Reduce the size of your cat’s territory. Cat fencing, catios and enclosures help to reduce the number of wildlife that are hunted and killed in your neighbourhood. Your cat will be limited to only the wildlife that make it into your garden directly.
  • 2.Outdoor cats can wear a collar and bell. Although collars are not 100% ideal for cats and the use of the bell has been shown to be useful in studies. The RSPB undertook a study that showed cats wearing bells on their collars brought home 41% fewer birds and 34% fewer mammals that those not wearing a bell.
  • 3.Keep your cats indoors an hour before sunset and an hour after sunrise. This is particularly vital between March and July and December and January. The RSPCA also advise on keeping cats indoors after spells of bad weather as this is when birds are likely to come out to feed.

What’s the strangest unwanted gift your cat ever brought into your home? Come and tell us over on our Facebook page.

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