What could be more natural than a cat hunting mice? Farmers used to –and some still do – keep cats in their barn to keep their grain silos mouse-free.
But your cat is not a barn cat. Many barn cats are actually strays that just hang around barns because of the availability of mice, warm boughs of hay, and the occasional plate of table scraps. They actually don’t live the best lives.
Your cat deserves better. If you want your cat to live a long, happy life, you’re going to have to make sure they don’t hunt mice.
Why You Shouldn’t Let Your Cat Hunt Mice
Even if your cat does not eat their kill, they can get sick or injured from hunting. Not all mice are easy prey. Bites and scratches from prey can get infected.
If your cat does eat mice, they’re at even greater risk for contracting toxoplasmosis or parasites. They could also eat a mouse that has been poisoned.
Indoor-outdoor cats tend to bring “gifts” of dead mice to their favorite humans. But the mouse might not be entirely dead when it lands at your feet. Your cat could also leave the mouse in your bed, or on your kitchen counter. Gross!
How to Safely Keep Your Cat from Hunting Mice
If your cat is hunting outdoors, the easiest solution is to simply keep your cat inside. Outdoor cats are vulnerable to getting hit by cars, getting into fights with other cats, ingesting poison, and other outdoor hazards.
When keeping your cat indoors isn’t an option, you may want to try a cat bib. As it turns out, bells with collars are not very effective at sabotaging a cat’s hunt. Prey animals do not realize that the tinkle of a bell means that a cat is near. The cat bib gets in the way at the moment the cat lunges for the prey, plus makes the cat more visible.
Another fix is to get rid of mice that live in and around your home. Just make sure you do not harm your cat in the process. Many poisons and traps are deadly to pets, too. Even essential oils can be harmful to cats, especially when concentrated.
Keep Your Little Hunter From Getting Bored
Now that your cat can’t hunt mice, they might make it known that they’re bored. Some cats will complain loudly at the door to be let out onto their hunting grounds.
You can take your cat for leashed walks so they can safely enjoy the breeze on their whiskers. An enclosed “catio” space is an increasingly popular fixture for feline-friendly homes.
Cats get great satisfaction from working for their food. Try thinking outside the bowl. You can create homemade puzzles with modified water bottles and boxes, or purchase a puzzle toy like the NoBowl System, a set of toy mice that your cat has to bat around to release dry food.