At what age do cats hunt mice?

Do you think that cats’ drive to hunt is due exclusively to their need for food? Experts in feline behavior are clear: felines hunt by instinct, not hunger. For this reason, the domestic cats we live with also claim to display their hunting behaviors to stay balanced.

This is so because deep down they continue to think like their ancestors, they are still predators. Even if your kitten is well fed, it feels the urge to stalk and pounce on the objects it sees in its path. However, cats are not born knowing how to hunt. Find out everything about hunting in felines!

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Hunting in wild cats

It is evident that the need to survive has led cats that live in the wild or on the street to hunt small prey, especially rodents and small birds. Rodents are their favorite prey , as they have always been plentiful and their wingspan adjusts to the size of their mouth. They are also capable of hunting larger prey, such as pigeons.

They are also excellent fishermen. Thanks to the spoon technique they can fish their aquatic victims using one of the front legs as a hook. Whether on land or in the water, felines treasure a refined hunting technique, they act stealthily and with agility to go unnoticed and not give their prey room for maneuver.

The role of mothers

However, this mastery does not come as standard, they are not born knowing it. Mothers are in charge of teaching their young to hunt. At 5 weeks of age, when they are able to walk, they begin to become familiar. At 7 weeks the mother eats a prey in front of the kittens.

At 9 weeks he brings them a half-garden prey to play with before killing it. In this way, he teaches them how to complete the feat . When the kittens feel ready they will accompany their mother to hunt, for example, to the nests. At 8 weeks they already think like real hunters and at 6 months they can do it alone.

 

Hunting in domestic cats

Indoor cats, which are accustomed to living only inside a home, have different breeding and other living conditions, so it is possible that if they have not seen hunting before they will not be able to kill their prey or, having killed her, to eat her . The key lies in whether they were started between week 6 and 12.

Some cats that have access to a garden or the immediate vicinity of your home enjoy hunting immensely by throwing and pawing their prey before killing it. Others need to recover after the stress that hunting demands and others feel very insecure and the only thing they manage to do is hit it.

Regardless of their skill, hunting behaviors are part of their DNA and not allowing them to vent that instinct can lead to stress and depression, impairing their health and quality of life. Therefore, never miss the opportunity to play with your pet appealing to hunting.

The relevance of hunting toys

Toys and play routines that seek to mobilize the cat’s abilities to hunt are more than recommended. You don’t need to spend a lot of money, since you can make rods or pendants yourself. By attaching a mouse, colored feathers or a stuffed animal to a stick with an elastic band you will have it all done.

Attaching colored tapes to a sturdy surface is equally useful for this purpose. Your pet will struggle to reach for the ribbons and catch them. Although it is convenient to alternate the games so that you do not lose interest , as you can see, putting into practice game routines around hunting is easier than you think.

If you want to know more about this type of do it yourself toys, we invite you to consult our entry Homemade toys for kittens. Of course, remember to let him hunt on occasion, otherwise he could get stressed. Encourage your children to participate, as these types of toys are highly unlikely to hurt themselves.

 

Does castration inhibit these instincts?

There is a prejudice that the removal of sexual organs neutralizes the hunting instinct of felines. Nothing is further from reality. Neutered cats are used to giving their owners dead prey . Something that you should not suppress or scold, but also do not encourage.

 

Ethologists explain that they behave this way because they emulate what they have learned from their parents and because they want to care for their human guardian. They need to reciprocate the care provided by that being they consider to be in their family circle, providing them with food. Licking their hair is another manifestation of equalization and closeness.

In short, from an early age, kittens are familiar with hunting and although they have not had the opportunity to see it in situ during their breeding, you should not restrict this instinct for the good of their psychological health.

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