Cats love to hunt, it’s their thing, it’s what they do. As kittens they are taught hunting behaviours from their mother and practice them on their siblings. Cats are born to hunt, which isn’t ideal in modern day homes. Yes, some cats are brought in to help control and reduce pest problems, but most cat owners are not pleased to find injured or dead wildlife on the doorstep or in the home.
Playing with Prey
Often cats will bring home injured animals such as birds and small mammals. The reason why so many small animals is injured is because cats don’t go straight in for the kill, they like to ‘play’. There are a few suggested reasons for this. The first is that the cats are trying to reduce the risk of injury by practicing how to catch prey and manipulate it until it’s safe to kill. The second theory is because the cat is not an expert assassin at this stage and is still learning how to capture and secure the prey. Finally, cats may simply enjoy playing with their prey, they are having too much fun and see it as a game. It’s dark but a possibility.
Is it possible to stop a cat from hunting?
Cats are predators and they will naturally hunt and catch prey when they’re given the chance. It doesn’t matter how much food they are given, the natural hunting behaviour will pop up, even on full bellied kitties. They sometimes bring home the prey too. Cats that bring home prey do so because they feel the home is safe and secure, which is a good thing of course. However, cat owners will not be happy when discovering carcases that have been place in the home for safe keeping.
Tips to Stop Cats from Hunting
- Stop letting your cat go outside. This is the only way to really stop cats from killing wildlife (unless it enters the home). Cats that are kept indoors will still need to have opportunities to act out their hunting behaviours with toys and play time, but indoor cats will not be able to harm any outdoor animals.
- Keeping cats indoors isn’t always ideal and many owners hate the idea of restricting a natural predator. Therefore, another good option is to use cat fencing, catio or similar cat containment system. The cat is allowed outdoors but only in a confined area. Local wildlife is protected to some degree, but there is a risk to those entering the garden if the containment system has an opening, such as cat fencing. However, the number of animals hunted is greatly reduced if not eliminated with systems such as these.
- Give your cat a curfew that falls inline with when birds are at their most active, such as dawn and dusk. Additionally, take extra steps to reduce the time the cat spends outdoors when baby birds are at greater risk, between March and July.
- Try using a collar with a safe bell attached. Be sure to use quick release collars only to reduce the risk of injury and harm to the cat.
Cats love to hunt, so when taking any steps to prevent this behaviour it’s important to replace it with a safe activity to keep cats happy and healthy. Find out more about keeping cats happy, here.