Why Cats Love Catching Mice

By Guest Author Jessica Loticus:

From Tom and Jerry to Stuart Little, we see that films, shows, and books love to portray the endless battle between cats and mice. But why do cats love catching mice?

First of all, it’s important to realize that despite being domesticated thousands of years ago, cats are nearly identical to their ancestors. Unlike dogs who have undergone significant changes from their wild counterparts, cats still retain a lot of the physical traits and behaviors of their wild ancestors. One of these traits is that they are full-on carnivores. Though dogs can survive on a vegetarian diet, cats need meat to survive as their bodies are incapable of producing a molecule called taurine, and they might die without enough of it. As a result, they’re always hunting to make sure they have an ample supply of fresh meat, even when full.

This means that feeding and hunting are two separate needs, which is why cats hunt despite having a bowl full of food nearby. The desire to hunt is so hardwired into their brains, that seeing a moving wire or string is enough to drive them nuts and makes them enter their hunt mode. This is why cats adore playing with toys, as it gives them the same excitement as hunting. In fact, it’s said that this separation of feeding and hunting is what allows cats to be domesticated and to habilitate to life at home.

Hunting isn’t the only habit that’s ingrained in every cat. They also love to bring us animals, be it dead or alive. This stems from their desire to feed their young and teach them to hunt as well. However, if you find your cat has delivered you a wild animal that is injured, it may be in your best and most humane interest to find a rehabilitator to help it. If this is the case, go here if you need to find a rehabilitator near you.

There are lots of potential creatures for a cat to hunt, from birds to small insects, so why do they love hunting mice specifically? This is because a mouse is a perfect target. It moves seemingly randomly and in an unpredictable fashion, which captivates the cat’s focus. Not only that, but they’re also the perfect size. They can easily be caught in the cat’s paws, and are neither too big nor too small. Also, unlike birds or some insects, they can’t fly away, so they are always within the cat’s reach.

Though people might think cats are just as adept at catching rats, this just isn’t the case. According to the Smithsonian, rats are too big and aggressive for a cat to catch. Unlike mice who can do nothing but squeal when caught, rats will readily fight back and try to bite or claw the cat. Thus cats will avoid them because the risk far outweighs the reward. For more information on contrasting between rats and mice, visit this site to tell the difference.

There you have it. Cats are natural predators and crave the feeling of being on the hunt, and mice just so happen to be the perfect prey, both in terms of size and their unlikeliness to fight back. Thus any cat will pounce on the opportunity to catch a mouse.

Sources

https://www.purina.co.uk/cats/behaviour-and-training/understanding-cat-behaviour/cat-hunting-behaviour

https://www.trueinstinct.com/en/dogs-cats-advices/hunting-and-feeding-behaviour-cats

https://www.battersea.org.uk/pet-advice/cat-advice/why-does-my-cat-hunt

https://www.hillspet.com/cat-care/behavior-appearance/cats-catching-mice

https://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/cats-are-surprisingly-ineffective-keeping-urban-rat-populations-check-180970428/

https://www.knowyourcat.info/info/catandmouse.htm

About the Author Jessica Loticus:
Jessica is a graduate student, environmentalist, and long-time animal-lover. She is an aspiring journalist whose work focuses on how people can best heal their relationship with animals.
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