Unwanted Gifts: Dealing With Your Cat’s Latest Kill

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Tired of waking up to severed body parts and the bloody mass of your cat’s most recent victim? Felines are known for their ferocious hunting skills, and they often like to produce the prize of their conquests by presenting their owners with the bodies of dead lizards, mice, bugs and birds. This often causes an unpleasant situation for the pet-parents that then need to deal with the mess, while hoping that their kitty won’t continue with the disgusting trend. Below are some observations about why cats like to bring us their prey, as well as how we can attempt to keep our porches corpse-free!

Why cats bring us the kill: There is a reason we are familiar with the phrase “look at what the cat dragged in.” Felines have been delivering messy post-mortem packages for centuries, and there are several possible reasons why they do this:

  • Instinct: Though not every cat will become an adept hunter, it is instinctive for felines to stalk and kill prey to survive. Most cats are trained from a young age watching their mothers engage with their victims, learning how to trap and kill by observation.
  • Some have surmised that cats also bring us their recent conquests to show evidence of their hard work. Felines like to prove to their masters that they earning their keep, conquering the vermin and keeping the house pest-free. Others believe that cats present their prize as a thank offering for the food the humans daily provide them; while some people suppose that owner approval has nothing to do with the presentation and that the cats merely pick the area of disposal based on comfort and safety.
  • Training. In instances where the cat will bring a live or wounded creature to their master, some pet owners believe their cat is trying to train THEM how to kill for survival.  Feline mothers model how to catch mice for their young, and at certain stages will bring the prey half-alive for their kittens to practice the hunting techniques they have learned. Similarly, it could be that our pets are giving us the same courtesy: a chance to finish off the mouse!

Avoiding the trauma

Stop your kitty from leaving dead animals indoors, by implementing several practical precautions to circumvent the undesirable circumstance.

  • Keep your cat inside. The best way to discourage your cat from sneaking out to find prey, is to simply keep your cat inside at all times. This will entirely eliminate the kitty’s accessibility to the wealth of critters outdoors. Only if a mouse is unlucky enough to get inside your house, will you have to worry about finding furry cadavers on your living room floor.
  • Engage his mind. Cats need mental stimulation, particularly in activities related to hunting. Felines enjoy climbing, prowling, chasing, biting and toying with their prey. If they are given interesting trinkets to play with, feathers to pounce on, and appealing objects to capture, their natural instincts and urges will be satisfied in playtime. If your cat seems to be a particularly motivated chaser, increase the level of interaction by bringing out a remote-control mouse, or an animated plush toy he can stay amused with for hours.
  • Don’t react strongly to the dead animal. Whenever you do you happen to stumble upon a fresh kill, try to abstain from dancing around in frantic horror, or screaming and running. This will communicate to your cat that this hunting business is very exciting for you!   Many pet owners have found that showing strong reactions usually result in more frequent deliveries. So, if you don’t want to encourage your cat, control your desire to screech and run so that the feline won’t misinterpret this for enthusiasm.
  • Give the prey a fair warning.   If your cat is an outside-only pet who is difficult to keep in the confines of your backyard, provide a warning signal. Add a bell to the cat’s collar so that the other animals will hear him approaching, and be able to escape. Though this is not a fool-proof method for skillful stalkers, it might decrease the number of your cat’s successful kills.


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