If you’re a cat parent, you probably have come across more than one instance when you are about to serve a meal to your cat and it brings you a ‘gift’ in the form of a lizard, squirrel, or other animal. Sometimes, the gift is dead, or sometimes it is still alive. Your first reaction when your cat brings you a ‘gift’ probably isn’t to say ‘thank you’.
Why do cats do this? The right answer might come as a surprise to you. Cats are carnivores and they have a natural instinct to kill their prey. Your cat bringing you a dead animal is a way of saying “thank you.”
Cats kill billions of small animals every year in the USA alone.
Top Reasons Why Cats Kill Animals
Killing is a Natural Instinct for Cats
Why cats kill small animals is because of many reasons but the main one is because it’s a natural instinct for them. Although cats were domesticated thousands of years back, they still cannot resist the urge and love to hunt and kill their prey.
The reason why they bring dead animals to you is that they treat you like family and attempt to teach you how to hunt as they do.
Cat See You as Their Surrogate Kids
When a mother cat kills an animal they bring their prey home to show their kids ‘this is how it is done’. A cat projects this inherent behavior as she sees you as her family. She is trying to show you her love as a part of the family.
They Bring you a Gift as a Sign of Love
Cats are so much different than dogs and the way they tell us that they love us is so unique. Unlike dogs, who lick us to tell us that they love us, cats bring dead animals as a ‘gift’ to show us that they love us. Bringing you dead animals is their way of telling you that they love you and care for you.
To Teach you How to Hunt
Your cat sees you as an inexperienced hunter and that’s why bring dead animals to you to teach you to hunt as they do. Cats are often raised by their mothers who bring dead or barely alive animals home to teach their kids how to kill on their own. Once kids are old enough, they go on their own to hunt other small animals.
It’s a Part of Their Play
Cats love to run, chase, and hunt things. Not only do they bring you dead animals, but cats also love to bring their favorite toys as a part of the play. Cats love toys like stuffed mice, moving toys, feather wands, and laser pointers. That’s why you often see them bringing you their favorite toys.
Do Cats Eat Animals That They Kill?
Many people ask do cats eat birds or mice that they kill? The answer is No. Cats are definitely hunters and killers but they don’t usually eat their prey. The chances of your cat eating an animal that it kills are very less. Feral cats do sometimes eat what they kill but that doesn’t happen many times.
Though a cat’s killing behavior might be a little unacceptable for you as a cat owner, the good news is that cats are more interested in chasing and hunting their prey rather than eating them.
Is There Anything You Can do to Stop Your Cat From Killing Other Animals?
Killing is in the cat’s DNA so you can’t really stop them from killing other animals altogether. Though, there are certain things you can do to reduce their chances of killing.
- You can put up a small bell on your cat’s collar to scare animals away before your cat gets to them.
- There are a variety of cat bibs available in the market that you can put on your cat when they’re outside.
- Use a leash or harness to restrict the ability to roam and hunt
- Keep your cat indoors before sunrise and after sunset
Also, there are certain things you can do to minimize the need for your cat to hunt whilst keeping your cat occupied with other things. These are-
- Feed food with high nutrient and meat content to your cats.
- Do not stick to just one type of food as they will get bored of it.
- Keep your cat entertained and occupied when you take them outside.
- Indulge your cat in games, training, etc especially around dusk and dawn
- Encourage your cat to play more often.
- Buy interactive toys for your cats that encourage them to jump, chase, grab, and bite.
What to do if my Cat Brings Home Dead ‘Gifts’?
Being the natural predators, your cat would hunt small animals, birds, and rodents and bring them to you as a ‘Gift’. Here’s how to deal with a dead animal that your cat brings to you:
- Make sure your cat is outside when you decide to clean the room.
- Wear gloves before picking up the dead animal and put it in a plastic bag.
- Throw the plastic bag in the outside trash can.
- Use a disinfectant to clean the area where the dead animal was placed.
- If the dead animal was placed on carpet or upholstered furniture, clean and shampoo the area properly.
Conclusion – Cats will be Cats and You Can’t Really do Much About it
Hunting and killing small animals is in the DNA of cats and you can’t really do much about it. So, next time your cat brings you a ‘Gift’ do not get angry as a cat can read your body language.
Thank your cat for the gift it brings to you and throw it out later on. And remember, your cat loves you and by bringing you a dead or barely alive animal, they are just trying to awake the inner predator in you. This is just their way of showing they care for you.