How to Stop Cats Bringing Dead Rats into the House

Cats are natural predators. In the wild, they will hunt small rodents, small animals, and small birds. They will watch, stalk, jump, and kill their prey. While you may be feeding them two meals a day, regular snacks, and plenty of time and attention with a fake bird over a rubber band at home, this isn’t always enough to quell the cat’s instinct to hunt.

If your cat is carrying dead or half-dead mice and other animals, it could be for a variety of reasons. However, if you don’t enjoy receiving these “gifts,” there are steps you can take to minimize how often they occur or even prevent them from happening in the future.

Read on to learn more about this interesting habit and learn if there are actions you can take to help prevent it.

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Why Does My Cat Keep Bringing Me Dead Animals?

Before you determine the best way to stop your cat from bringing you dead mice, you should determine why he is taking part in this funny habit. No one really knows what goes through a cat’s mind, but possible reasons for bringing in a dead mouse include:

  • The Thrill Of The Hunt – Cats observe, stalk, pounce and kill prey in the wild. They are instinctive hunters. Even though your cat’s closest to a necessary hunt is finding a food bowl under the kitchen unit, it’s still an instinctive reaction. This was evident in kittens who never left the house but still twitched when they saw birds and other potential prey out the window. Effectively, your cat might bring you a dead animal because they can’t hold it in, that’s instinctive.

  • Safety – If your cat is a natural hunter, and enjoys eating the food it catches, it may just be looking for the safest place to eat its prey. If you find prey near the back doorway or elsewhere around the park, it’s possible that your cat brought the catch back to a place where they know they can safely eat it without losing it.

  • Lesson – Your cat may view you as an inferior hunter. They can catch birds and small animals, but all you can catch are shopping bags. They may take you home a dead animal in an attempt to show you how it’s done: as a teaching exercise, not as a reward.

  • Gift Giving – While your cat may not see you as a hunter, they may see you as a provider because you can make food appear in their bowl. You also give them love and attention when they want it and provide for all of your cat’s other needs. A dead mouse at the door can be your cat’s way of showing how grateful they are for your efforts. After all, they were trying to stalk and hunt the rat.

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Neighbor’s Cat Leaves Dead Animals

Your neighbor’s cat has the same possible motivation for bringing you a dead animal. If you don’t have much contact with cats, chances are your doorstep is a convenient, food-stealing location.

If you feed your neighbor’s cat, they may return the favor, and if you let them in, they may realize your inefficiency as a hunter and try to give you the essential skills you need.

Stray Cats Leave Animals Dead

Similarly, a stray cat leaves food on your doorstep for one of these reasons. Stray cats tend to be more protective of food, and are more likely to eat the small animals they hunt. Safety and comfort, therefore, are the most likely. If they leave a catch as a gift, remember that feral cats don’t know where their next meal will come from, so leaving food for you is something the cat can risk.

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How to Stop Cats Bringing Dead Rats Home:

If your cat does carry a dead mouse, you should avoid the temptation to get angry. You should try to thank the cat for the gift and try the following steps to help, at a minimum, minimize the number of dead mice that are presented to you in the future.

1. Collar With Bell

Put a bell around your cat’s neck and it will warn its prey when your cat comes. This essentially eliminates one of your cat’s greatest weapons: stealth.

When buying a collar for a cat, keep safety in mind. A rigid collar that fits tightly and securely around the neck can catch on branches and other surfaces. This can trap the cat and prevent it from coming home. Worse, it can tighten and prevent your cat from breathing. Make sure the collar is removed quickly.


2. Dictating Outdoor Time

One way to prevent your cat from hunting for prey is to keep it out. However, if you still want your cat to enjoy time outside but want to prevent the capture and killing of animals, limit their time outdoors.

Birds are more susceptible to attack before sunset and after sunrise. They are a little dizzy, and their senses are not as sharp as during the day, so they are more likely to be pounced on by your cat. Mice tend to come out at night, so this is when they are more likely to be caught by your cat. This is why you are more likely to find a dead mouse on your back door in the morning.

Consider when your cat brings gifts most of the time, and then stop him from spending too much time outdoors during this time. Set mealtimes and activities to encourage your cat to stay home during these intervals.

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3. Don’t be easy to fall prey to

Dining tables and bird baths are beneficial for wild birds as they provide a regular source of food and a place to sit and bathe. They can also be very beneficial to your cat because they provide a definite place where birds will congregate, and where they don’t need to pay attention.

Similarly, feeders can attract other animals, such as mice that eat food debris found on the floor around the base of the feeder. Even if you keep bird food in a shed or garage, there’s a good chance that mice will find it and your cat will know where they’re going.

Keep feeding areas out of reach of cats, use bathtubs that cats can’t easily enter, and protect small animals from cat hunters.


4. Play again

No matter how often and how often you play, your cat may still go out and enjoy the local wildlife. However, if your cat has started to bring a lot of dead animals, it could be that he catches mice and other animals just as a means of entertainment. Even if that’s not the case, if you play with your cat more often, he can satisfy his cat’s desire to get out and chase something.

Interactive toys, such as fishing rods with a pretend bird on the end of a piece of rubber, are especially attractive to hunting cats. The bird’s movements mimic the erratic movements of wild animals, and since toys are usually plastered with catnip, they will appeal to your pet’s senses.

Laser pointers are another popular toy and are not only fun for your cat, but also super easy for you to play with. You can sit in your favorite chair and gently encourage your cat to burn off energy while charging around the room.

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5. Training

This particular option may fall under the heading “wish but not possible,” but you can train your cat to perform the desired action and prevent it from performing the unwanted action.

Training your cat to stop bringing you dead gifts can be difficult, not least because you’re trying to stop your cat from doing something natural to them and ingrained in their behavior. But also because cats are very independent.

When your feline friend brings you a dead mouse, say thank you and provide a catnip-scented toy to play with before throwing away the dead mouse when your cat’s attention wanders. Keep doing this and, in the end, your cat may choose to bring you a catnip toy instead of a dead mouse toy.

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Dead Cat and Mouse

Cats are excellent hunters. They especially excel at observing, stalking, preying, and stealth jumping over their prey. They will hunt mice, small birds, and even animals such as frogs and butterflies. They may bring some of these animals to you, as a gift or as a training aid, and it may be difficult to convince them to stop. Above are five techniques you can use to try and stop your cat from bringing in dead mice.


Featured Image Credit: B_kowsky, Pixabay

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