If you’re the owner of a cat that ventures outdoors, you’ve probably come across a few interesting offerings left for you when they return home. Cats are natural hunters, stalking and playing with whatever small animal that they happen to capture. When you open your door in the morning, you might find that a victim has been left for you and not understand why your cat feels the need to do this. Hunting prey is one thing, but why do the cats have to bring it home? Why do they have to give it to you? What use does your cat think that you have for this?
There are many reasons. Most commonly, your cat is saying thank you and showing you their appreciation for everything that you do, giving them everything from shelter and food to love and affection. They want you to take this dead mouse as a token of your cat’s gratitude.
No matter the reason for the gifts, it doesn’t necessarily mean you enjoy this and want it to continue. Thankfully, there are a few ways to try to curb this behavior. Let’s look at six that you can try.
How to Stop a Cat From Bringing Dead Mice Home
1. Keep your cat inside.
It only makes sense that if cats kill things outside, preventing them from leaving the house will solve the problem. It also keeps your surrounding wildlife safe. Cats are just one more predator that mice and other wild animals have to worry about, and it doesn’t have to be that way for them. An enclosed pen is a way to give your cat outdoor time without letting them roam freely all over. Having a “catio”, an enclosed patio for cats with multiple levels, toys, litter, and water, is another fun solution and can keep your cat protected outdoors too. Just as your cat is a predator for wildlife, other animals like coyotes can prey on your cat. For everyone’s safety, keeping your cat inside or confined outdoors is best.
2. Put a bell on them.
If you let your cat outside and they are stalking wildlife, you should at least give the wildlife a chance to get away. If you’ve watched a cat stalk a toy inside the house, you know that they sneakily position themselves, readying for the pounce. They can remain quite still before they attack. The mouse likely won’t even hear them. By putting a collar with a bell on your cat, though, you are eliminating the element of surprise. No mouse is going to stick around long if they hear a bell jingling. Collars on outdoors cats can be dangerous, however. If the collar becomes snagged on a branch, nail, piece of wood, etc., it can trap or even strangle your cat. For these reasons, we only recommend breakaway collars. Even the slightest tug will cause the collar to break apart and fall right off.
3. Limit your cat’s time outdoors.
Mice are nocturnal, so they’re the most active overnight. That’s when they’ll come out to wander and search for food and water. If your cat is bringing home dead mice and leaving them for you to find first thing in the morning, consider switching up your cat’s routine. Don’t let them out all night to hunt mice and other nocturnal critters. Since most wildlife is active at dawn and dusk, avoid those times as well. Your cat can’t bring home dead animals if they can’t find any animals to hunt. A few hours in the afternoon may not produce the same number of prey as an all-day outing. Encourage your cat to stay inside during high-activity times for wildlife. Don’t open the door for them, and if you have a cat door, lock it. Use food, treats, and toys to distract them from wanting to go outside.
4. Appreciate the gift.
Though the sight of a dead or nearly-dead mouse might make you recoil, your cat is still offering you this gift for a reason. Whatever that reason may be, it makes sense to cats. If they see you dispose of this mouse in disgust, they may think that they didn’t do a good enough job. The obvious solution to them is to do better in the future. Next time, you might get two mice or a larger one or another animal altogether. Before you dispose of this creature, thank your cat. It may sound silly, but if you make a big deal about what a good job they did, they might feel that they succeeded at caring for you.
5. Wear your cat out.
Cats want to go out and roam because they’re energetic and ready for adventure. Their natural instinct to hunt and stalk is always with them, so wildlife can be victims even if your cat is well-fed and satisfied. They’re not always hunting and killing because they’re hungry. Sometimes, they could even be playing. By increasing the amount of time that you spend playing with your cat, you can eliminate some of their desire to go out and hunt. Toys that mimic the movements of animals are good for letting your cat give into their instincts without harming a living creature. Toys covered in feathers, toy mice, and cat dancers are all great options for playing with your cat and letting them burn off energy. A tired cat is much less likely to want to go roaming around the neighborhood.
5. Don’t make it easy for your cat to find mice.
If you have bird feeders on your property, this can attract rodents that eat the seed that falls on the ground. Additionally, old wood piles, uncut grass, overgrown weeds, and leaf piles make great homes for mice. Any trash or uneaten pet food should also be securely disposed of to avoid attracting rodents. Once your property is clear of anything that a mouse could call home, it’s time to inspect yours. If mice have any way of getting inside your house, your cat may not even have to go outside to find them. A mouse could be brought to you anywhere in the house at any time. Secure and patch any entrances that will give mice access to your home.
Cats hunt mice for many reasons, from instinct and prey drive to hunger. If your cat is bringing dead mice to you, we hope that the methods mentioned here will help you put a stop to this behavior or at least slow it down. Remember to thank your cat for the gift because above all else, your cat is giving you this dead mouse with love. Then try some of the other techniques. Hopefully, your doorstep will remain clear of rodents and other wildlife.
Featured Image Credit: Markos-Loizou, Shutterstock