If someone were to ask you about the typical cartoon animal chain, you would likely say dogs-cats-mice.
It’s quite normal to see this in cartoons or in video games, and we just take this as truth.
Cat lovers will also have experienced dead mice in their house – probably due to their furry friend bringing them a gift!
But do cats actually eat mice?
This article seeks to find out what the deal is with cats and mice, answer if they indeed eat them or not, if this can be dangerous and if there’s something you can do about it!
So, snuggle in with your kitty and read on!
Cats And Mice: The Basics
The short answer is yes, cats certainly eat mice. In fact, it’s a normal part of their diet in the wild.
We sometimes forget that our adorable friends are hunters and this needs to be a part of our thinking sometimes when our buddy brings back a mouse.
Cats have it in their genes to hunt – it’s part of who they are and house cats are of course much smaller than wild big cats, so small prey to them is far easier and very attractive to them.
It’s also normal for cats to “play hunt”, like when they’re grabbing our moving hands – but this can be fatal to mice if they’re playing with them!
Felines use two standard methods for hunting; active and passive.
If they’re using active hunting methods, they’ll burst with energy and chase after their prey, whereas if they’re passively hunting, they’ll sit and wait patiently near their targets and wait for their meal to come to them.
It’s hunter instinct!
How Come Cats Eat Mice?
At its most basic, it’s a natural survival instinct.
If you have a cat, you’ll probably have noticed that they like to roam around at crazy times of the day and night, like 2am until 6am!
This is because cats become more active around nighttime and around dawn, and they will then utilize their time by hunting.
You might think to yourself – “but I fed my cat, why are they still hungry?”.
Well the truth is, they’ll hunt anyway, even if they’ve eaten! They might not necessarily eat their hunt if they’ve eaten, but they’ll certainly do the rest.
In fact, research suggests that cats will only eat their hunt about 30% of the time.
The same research stated that 20% of the time, cats returned their hunt back home – so if you were in that 20%, you’ll have seen an entire mouse in your house or in your yard!
Centuries ago, particularly in England, cats were used as pest control and were very handy for farmers to keep their grains and other stock from rotting or becoming contaminated.
Over the coming decades and centuries, cats became more and more domesticated and now, although they are solo beings, they need their humans for support and a healthy, long life.
So, as you can see – cats and mice go together perfectly and have done so for so long. It’s a natural part of their DNA and the instinct for cats is to hunt them.
Cats Bringing Home “Presents”
Of course, it’s common for your furry friend to bring you a “gift” back, by bringing wild mice back to the house.
This can sometimes be distressing, but they’re doing it for some natural reasons!
One of these reasons is because they want to bring their hunt back to the safest place possible, which just so happens to be yours and their home, but another reason is much more ingrained in their genetics.
Female cats in the wild will bring back their hunt to their young for them to eat, but if female cats don’t have young – they have you.
She just wants to provide for you and bring home the food!
So, even though it can be a distressing sight for us, they’re doing it out of love and a good place in their heart.
They’re showing you that they are part of your family, and you are part of theirs.
If your cat does this, try to avoid the urge to punish them or discourage this – it might psychologically damage them and make them feel as though you’re rejecting them.
Remember, it’s all part of their natural hunting instincts, and they can’t help that. We shouldn’t be punished for our natural dispositions and neither should they.
How Come Cats Play With Mice?
Remember we mentioned earlier that sometimes cats will “play hunt” or play with mice which can end up being fatal? Well there are a few reasons for this.
The first and most basic is that cats are simply having fun – it might seem mean or cruel, but that’s just what they do, unfortunately for the mouse.
The second is that they are testing their prey for danger.
Studies have suggested that cats will play with larger prey like rats for much longer to tire them out to avoid a struggle – and then they finish them off.
However, the same studies also show that if a cat is hungry, they will avoid playing entirely.
The third is they’re trying to assess their prey’s suitability for their young, checking for potential dangers on their might-be prey.
Is It Dangerous For Cats To Eat Mice?
If humans were to eat a raw mouse, we’d likely get sick.
Our system cannot process some insides of a mouse anyway, and we need bacteria to be cooked from the meat in order to avoid sickness.
Cats have evolved for centuries and beyond to process all of their prey, so they should not be in any danger if they’ve eaten a mouse.
However, there are a few caveats to this.
If a rat or mouse has already ingested rat poison and then your cat eats it, there is a very real chance your cat is going to get sick.
If you suspect this, you need to contact a vet immediately.
Mice also sometimes carry parasites and other undesirable bacteria and viruses.
Typically, your cat should be okay with this – but always keep an eye on them to check if they’re okay over the next few days.
Can I Stop My Cat From Hunting Mice?
You shouldn’t really prevent your cat from being a cat, but there are a few things you can do that will likely lessen the chances of your cat going out and hunting.
Try to keep your cat at home and inside at nighttime. The more this happens, the more likely it is for them to naturally stay in during hunting hours.
Feed your cat at regular times, so they don’t feel the need to seek out more meals.
Finally, play with your cat as much as you can and let them play out their hunting instincts safely that does not result in a dead mouse!
Cats do eat mice, and it’s part of who they are.
Sometimes it can be unpleasant if they bring their mice back to the house, but you shouldn’t punish them for it. Let your cat be a cat!