Do cats catch rats?

The hunting skills of cats are one of the reasons why these animals are comfortably ensconced in people’s homes. Ancestors of domestic cats have survived in the wild because of their prolific hunting abilities. Even during the ancient times, cats have been known for their predatory habits. Cats were domesticated but the instinct to hunt remained. Cats are people’s “mighty mouse hunters”. Cats hunt birds, lizards and other fast moving animals too. Aside from the companionship these animals offer, people would want to have cats to rid the home of rats. However, a lot of cat owners are now heard complaining that cats are no longer chasing rats. Apparently, cats have lost the inclination to catch rats. Do cats really turn their noses at the task of catching rats? Some cats would still chase rats …others would ignore these squeaking animals. Some very friendly cats are even seen playing with rats.

Cats are natural predators. These animals are obligate carnivores. Cats in the wild depend on the nutrients found in meat for their survival. Many domestic cats are not provided with an all-meat diet as cat food manufacturers are producing synthetic forms of the nutrients needed by cats. Cat owners ensure that the pet never go hungry. Pets are regularly provided with enough nutrient rich foods. Cats would not need to supplement the diet with the meat of prey. However, the instinct to hunt remained. Present day cats, similar to cats during the ancient times are still hunting rodents. Hundred years ago, cats have kept stables and barns vermin-free. Cat owners and cat behavior experts have noticed a change in these animals’ predatory habits. Compared to the cats of yesteryears, today’s cats, especially the pampered indoor pets are less inclined to chase rats. True, cats still consider mice, birds, and lizards as prey. Cats still enjoy chasing insects but a lot of these pets don’t catch rats anymore.

A lot of people are not aware that mice and rats are not one and the same. Mice and rats are not even related as they belong to different species. A mouse is the infamous little rodent in Tom and Jerry animated film. Mice are rodents with small bodies, long tails and big ears. Rats on the other hand have much larger bodies but smaller ears. Studies have proven that wild rats kill and eat mice. This is why the smell of rat urine will stress mice.

Rodents used to be the favorite prey of cats. Cats in the wild that managed to capture rats would kill the prey by biting the neck to sever the spinal cord. The rat will then be eaten. The hunting ability appears to have waned when cats were domesticated. Indoor cat are less agile and less aggressive in pursuing a prey. A cat may chase a mouse but would ignore a large rat even if the rodent is running back and forth right in front of the cat. Can this be due to the fact that rats, being much bigger that a mouse can put up a good fight? Or is it because domestic cats that never go hungry would have no use for the rats? Stray cats are still catching rats. A cat owner that has gotten a cat for the purpose of getting rid of the pesky rats may be in for disappointment.

Domestic cats are now valued as companions and less as rodent and vermin hunters. Cat owners these days don’t expect the pet to kill rats. Rats after all are yucky! Imagine a cat grooming the fur stained by the rat’s blood. Hunting may be a natural behavior of cats but pampered pets are noticed to be less inclined to catch rats.

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