Several years ago, when I had my first Maine Coon (a naughty ginger cat called Oscar) a rather disturbing (but in hindsight, funny) thing happened. I was lying in bed, which was positioned less than a couple of feet away from a window. When it was hot I used to keep it open a bit and Oscar became accustomed to using it as a gateway to the outside world.
However, one day I left it open just a little and unfortunately for Oscar, he couldn’t quite squeeze through the gap. Unfortunately for me, it was a large enough gap for him to throw the little mouse he’d just caught through the gap and onto my pillow, about an inch from my mouth. It was the squishy thud that woke me, that and Oscar meowing in satisfaction – mission complete.
I appreciated the gesture. It was very kind of him to get me a midnight snack but unfortunately, I wasn’t that hungry. I let him in, gave him a cuddle and then discreetly got rid of the somewhat soggy remains of a mouse from my bed. I also changed my pillow.
Why do cats feel the need to bring you in mice?
Your cat brings you in mice because it is their natural instinct to do so. In the wild, they would have either provided for their young by doing this or would have had their mother provide for them in this way.
The reason behind your cat bringing you mice
What do you think your cat thinks every time you go out for a bit, leaving them home alone? Let’s think about that for a bit. You go out and on your return, often the first thing you do is feed them. It’s like you’ve been out, hunting for their food and brought them back something – it’s very kind of you!
So, you’re providing for them. Perhaps, not in exactly the same way as they are thinking, but providing for them none the less. In their head, they will also want to provide for you. You often bring home dinner for them, why can’t they bring home dinner for you? Admittedly, you might prefer a McDonalds or KFC, but it’s difficult for a cat to order these so you’ll have to make do with small creatures. Usually, it will be dead, but there are no guarantees.
It’s natural for cats to hunt. It’s also natural for mothers (cat mothers, not human mothers) to bring back small animals that they’d caught to their kittens. It’s a way the mothers demonstrate to their kittens what prey looks like. By bringing you back a dead (or dying) animal they are demonstrating their maternal instincts to you. Perhaps they think that you need a bit of help in that department?
Cats may bring back to you all kinds of little animals and actually a fair amount of research has been done about this. If you’d like to look at a paper on feline hunting behavior that’s quite interesting, then do check out the link.
Should you try and stop them bringing in mice?
It may not be the most pleasant experience in the world to be rewarded with a half-eaten mouse but don’t be too harsh on your little cat. Can you imagine how they would feel? They’ve hunted and captured a small creature from the vast outside world just for you. They bring it in to you, happy and excited to see your reaction – and all they get is shouted at by the big human! They are just doing what comes naturally to them.
So, no you should not try and stop your little furry friend from bringing you in a present. It’s the equivalent to them turning their nose up after you give them their favorite food. Oh, hold on, they actually do that, don’t they? Well, you know what I mean. Just don’t try and stop them doing what they naturally do.
How can you stop them?
You don’t have to be cruel to help with the solution here. What genuinely helps is interacting with them more. Now, I’m certainly not saying that you don’t spend enough time with them as that’s not always the case, however – if you notice that they’re spending a lot of their time outside hunting, then try and quench that desire inside.
So, how do you go about this? You play with them! You’re probably thinking that you already play with them quite a bit and I imagine you do! What you need to do though is play with them in a slightly different way. You should focus on their hunting skills so use toys such as Cat Charmers (click on the link to see the best one available on Amazon).
Make them hunt down the toy and get them to chase it around the house. Don’t make it too easy for them. Hide it under things and get it to wriggle around. Your cat will love it, they will stalk it and they will eventually pounce.
What you’re doing here is satisfying their urge to hunt, without necessarily doing it outside. Unfortunately, this doesn’t guarantee that they won’t still hunt outside and bring you in presents but if you persist, it will definitely help.
Just one other thing to consider when you’re playing with your cat. Try not to use your hands! They don’t understand that when they dig their rather sharp claws into them it hurts. Use some toys, there are thousands out there – take your pick. Also, if they are attacking your feet then check this post out!
Don’t punish your cat for bringing you a mouse
It is very natural for your cat to hunt and no matter what you do, it’s a natural instinct for them. For whatever reason, some cats have a desire to do it more than others and don’t think that just because they are neutered they will slow down. Being neutered does stop them from wandering usually but doesn’t do anything to prevent this instinct.
You have to ask why anyone would want a cat to stop hunting anyway. After all, it’s what a cat does. It’s like asking for a car with only three wheels, it just doesn’t make any sense. They go hand-in-hand.
Do you want to know the best thing you can do if your cat brings in a mouse? Praise them! Tell them how clever they are and thank them for the lovely food they’ve provided. Then, when they’re not looking, discreetly dispose of it somewhere outside. Don’t make the same mistake I did by just leaving it outside the front door. The next time our cat went outside, he brought it back in again, probably wondering how it got back outside!
Is it a problem if my cat doesn’t bring home mice?
If your cat doesn’t bring in mice it’s certainly not indicative of there being any kind of problem with them! As I said earlier, some cats just seem to hunt more than others. It is noticeable that as they enter their later years they do slow down. Because of this, they’re less likely to go outside for as long as they used to and therefore, they’re less likely to hunt and bring back little presents for you.
However, if your cat doesn’t want to play with you inside and appears to have no energy – then do consider taking them to see a professional. There’s no one who knows your cat like you so you will know best if something doesn’t feel right.
Conclusion – why does my cat bring in mice?
Hopefully, that’s cleared up for you the main reasons why cats like to bring in mice. It’s natural for them to hunt and they may sometimes want to bring it inside to show you what they’ve caught. Just remember that this is quite normal and although our natural instinct may be to scream and tell them off – try your best not to. Your cat won’t understand this behavior.
Try and make sure that when they do bring them in you handle it in the right way and also look at how much time you’re spending playing with them inside.