Many people believe that cats are effective at keeping pests away. If you have a cat, it’s likely that you have been given a “gift” from their latest hunting expedition. While some cats may bring you a leaf or a bug, other cat owners are accustomed to receiving mice, rats, and other small creatures from their skilled hunters.
So, do cats actually prevent mice from coming around? Absolutely, cats are effective at keeping mice away. They actively hunt mice, rats, and other rodents. The presence of a cat in the house does deter mice from moving in.
However, cats are said to deter mice from entering homes not only through hunting but also through their scent. Many pet owners in suburban areas claim that the presence of their cat alone is enough to keep mice away, and the absence of dead mice is seen as evidence of their effectiveness. Let’s delve into the various methods cats employ to keep mice at bay.
How Cats Hunt Mice
Cats that stay indoors enjoy chasing laser pointers, bugs, and practically anything that moves, including mice. When a cat spots a mouse, it is highly likely that they will demonstrate their innate hunting skills and immediately spring into action.
It’s common to witness a cat running after a mouse on the ground, becoming instantly attentive when they detect a mouse making noise, or swatting at a mouse’s preferred hiding spot.
However, despite what people commonly think, the majority of cats that stay indoors all the time won’t actually catch and kill mice.
However, it doesn’t imply that they won’t try to get rid of it from the house.
Indoor cats don’t really have a need to eat mice, especially if they’ve never had one before, because they already have all the food and water they need.
Cats have a natural instinct to chase mice, similar to how they chase other things that move. However, they may not actually understand that mice can be food. To them, mice are more like a living toy – something interesting and fun to play with, but not something they see as a meal.
But if your indoor cat happens to catch or injure a mouse in a way that they can taste it, they will probably do it often. Once cats realize that they have a delicious meal, they will want to do it again.
However, cats that stay indoors may not be very tidy when it comes to eating, which could result in a small mess being left behind. In fact, some cats may even develop a liking for specific parts of their food, leading to a consistent presence of the same leftovers.
Indoor/Outdoor Cats and Working Cats
Certainly, not all cat owners choose to keep their cats indoors. Although it is advised to keep cats indoors at all times unless they are employed as barn or farm cats, we understand that this is not always the case.
Cats who spend a decent amount of time outdoors are usually better at hunting and have a higher chance of catching and eating their prey, even if they have enough food and water available.
If you notice any leftovers from these cats, it’s likely because they’re catching more mice than they can eat or they’re saving some food for later.
Does Cat Smell Really Keep Mice Away?
Definitely! The smell of a cat makes mice not want to be in that area. You will notice a decrease in the number of mice overall, and the chances of having a mouse problem are lower if you own cats.
However, simply having the smell of a cat around won’t completely deter mice. Even if you have cats in your home, there may still be instances where a mouse manages to enter. This is because living in a house offers numerous benefits for mice, such as warmth and easy access to nutritious and calorie-rich food.
Having a cat at home provides some level of safety compared to being outside all the time. Cats are skilled predators, but houses don’t have the same risks as the natural environment, such as owls, snakes, and other predators.
Certain locations are more prone to experiencing a problem with mice, regardless of whether or not there is a cat present:
- Any area that your cat cannot enter
- Storage areas, particularly those with unorganized paper, fabric, and other mess
- Rooms located on the ground floor or in the basement
- Any room in winter
- Spaces like rooms where there are frequently leftover food and crumbs
To prevent mice, it is important to give your cat full access to your entire house and avoid leaving any loose food, including their cat food. Keeping your cat confined to one room is not recommended if you want to keep mice at bay. Leaving a cat in one room is not an effective way to deter mice.
Why Do Cats Play With Mice?
When your cat hunts, it’s likely the closest thing to ‘fun’ for them. Although we’re not sure what exactly motivates them to play, chase, and swat at objects, it definitely seems like they enjoy themselves.
And they most likely feel something similar to enjoyment or satisfaction, as these emotions serve as strong motivation for engaging in activities that promote survival.
Cats, even though they are small, are apex predators. Hunting is crucial for their survival as it helps them stay in shape, get energy, and stay hydrated when they catch their prey.
It’s crucial because today’s pet cats come from desert cats, which is why they don’t have a strong natural urge to drink water. Throughout history, cats have obtained most of their hydration from their food.
Cats have the opportunity to showcase their mental and physical abilities through hunting. Because the majority of domestic cats are not typically hungry or thirsty, they lack the motivation to stop “playing” and start hunting.
In essence, for most cat owners, a mouse is seen as a source of entertainment and excitement rather than a source of food.
That’s why some cats may appear let down when they unintentionally catch and kill a mouse or bug they were playing with. The reason for their disappointment is that a deceased mouse is not as exciting as a live one.
However, it’s important not to give mice to your cat as a plaything. This is not only cruel to the mouse, but there’s also a risk that one might escape and settle in your home.
You can’t rely on a wild mouse to be in good health. The feeder mice available at the store are more suitable for lizards and snakes, rather than for your cat. You can find more information about this topic at this link.
Why Do Cats Bring You Dead Mice Or Animals
If you’ve ever received a trophy from your cat’s recent hunt, you’ve probably wondered why they do it.
There are a few ideas about this. The most popular one is that your cat wants to give you food. Even though you give them most (if not all) of their food, your cat doesn’t see you hunting and killing, so they don’t completely grasp where their food comes from.
There are experts who believe that cats try to show their owners what food is by bringing them injured animals, just like they would with their kittens. This behavior is similar to how they teach their kittens to hunt, starting with easier prey and gradually increasing the difficulty until the kittens can hunt and kill on their own.
Some people believe that cats like to show off and receive praise for their efforts. This could be the reason why some cats bring you the animals they catch, but don’t let go of them and leave once you acknowledge their accomplishment.
In that scenario, cats are not really providing you with food. Instead, they are demonstrating their abilities.
Just so you know, when your cat leaves dead mice lying around the house, it’s not because they think they’re trophies. They simply don’t care about them and don’t realize that it might bother you.
Will Getting A Cat Cure A Mice Infestation?
Not all cats will immediately go after a whole group of mice. If you have many mice, it might be a good idea to get some traps along with a cat. Stay away from using poison because it can harm birds and other wildlife that eat the poisoned mice.
However, your cat has the ability to get rid of infestations gradually if it is given enough time and freedom to do so.
Working cats and outdoor cats are the most effective at getting rid of mice, so your cat that stays indoors may not be as good at catching them.
If you choose to get a working cat, don’t expect it to be super friendly or give you a lot of attention. Working cats are usually not as used to being around people as indoor cats. This makes them better at catching mice, but they’re not as likely to want to snuggle with you.