ExcitedCats is reader-supported. When you buy via links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission at no extra cost to you. Learn more.

Why Do Cats Bring You Dead Animals? Cat Behaviour Explained

It may be a shock to find out your cat has bought you an unwanted ‘gift’, but what does this truly mean to your cat? Cats are smart and inquisitive creatures who still have many wild instincts even in captivity. Although it may be unpleasant to peer down upon the dead critter your cat has caught, it is important to understand why they do such things and if it has any positive benefits for your cat.

The main reason your cat may be bringing you dead animals is that it is their way of showing you that they consider you part of their family and this article will inform you of all the possible reasons and explanations this behavior has for our feline friends.


The 4 Possible Reasons Why Your Cat Brings You Dead Animals

These are the main reasons a cat will bring you a dead animal as a gift:

1. Prey Driven

When our feline friends see a bird, rodent, or other small creatures, the natural reaction is to hunt it.

thematic break

2. Instinct

Hunting is an instinct all captive and wild cats are born with. This is the same instinct that attracts them to toys and other objects that stimulate prey in the wild.

grey cat hunting mouse
Image Credit: Stefan_Sutka, Shutterstock
thematic break

3. Teaching Skills

Interestingly, cats in the wild will bring dead prey to their kittens. This is to show the kittens how to catch their prey. So, the next time your cat brings you a dead animal, it may be trying to teach you something!

thematic break

4. Boredom

Cats who do not get enough enrichment and mental stimulation through toys and human interaction may take to hunting animals to alleviate their boredom.

peaceful happy calico short hair cat with white stomach sleeping ground surface carpet
Image Credit: Kristi Blokhin, Shutterstock

cat paw divider

It’s the Thought That Counts

Cats do not just bring you dead animals for the shock factor, they genuinely feel you are part of their family, and it is meaningful for them to bring you dead animals as gifts. Cats may not understand your reaction of reprimanding or punishing them for what they have done. You see, cats do this out of love and intent as this is behavior they do for their babies in the wild. Even if you do not appreciate the gift, it is still reassuring to know that your cat is not doing it with ill intent, and this is a possible sign that they love you and feel you are an important part of their family.

How to Prevent This Behavior

You can effectively prevent this behavior by ensuring your cat receives enough human attention and has plenty of toys that they can interact with. Toys will avert your cat’s attention from hunting outdoors to rather finding enough mental stimulation by playing with toys indoors.

Avoid encouraging them to play with toys outside as it can stimulate hunting prey. When they no longer have toys outside, your cat may associate it with hunting other animals that enter the yard.

If it becomes a prolonged issue, you can use a collar with a bell to alert the animal that they are being hunted by your cat. The bell acts to stop your cat from finding comfort in hunting other animals because the sound of the bell will continuously make their hunting efforts useless, and their prey will run away. This will eventually discourage them from trying to kill other animals.

cat wearing red collar
Image Credit: bmf-foto.de, Shutterstock

Enrichment Ideas

Ensure your cat has plenty of toys to keep busy. Toys that are battery operated and have moving figurines are a good example of a toy that can help curb their hunting behavior. They will find indoor toys more entertaining than hunting small animals. You should also take a few minutes out of your day to play with them using handheld toys and ensure they are tired out before bedtime. You can also place treats in a toy and the cat will enjoy spending time trying to get the treats out.

3 cat face divider


If your cat decides to bring you a dead animal as a gift, it isn’t always a bad thing. Our feline friends find comfort and assurance in this situation. Never negatively try to stop your cat from displaying this behavior. It is more effective you use positive reinforcement in the form of toys and human affections. At the end of the day, your cat only has good intentions and just wants to show you affection.

thematic break

Featured Image Credit: Serenity Mitchell, Shutterstock