Dome cat owners may be wondering why their beloved pet feline loves to eat mice, even if they have provided it with a bowl filled with commercial cat food. They could look into the cat’s ancestry, biology and hard-wiring to find the answer.
Nearly a century ago, cats were mostly outdoor animals. Since cats have the tendency to be exceptional hunters, people keep them to control pests. Those who want to see them hunt in action can observe the behavior of African wildcats, their closest wild cousins. These nocturnal animals hunt primarily during nighttime. They have very accurate hearing that enables them to find their prey based only on auditory clues. African wildcats hunt mainly birds, insects, mice, rats and small reptiles. They seldom drink water, and just get moisture from the prey they consume.
Cats devour their prey so they can get an essential amino acid called taurine. Unlike other animals, the taurine that cats produce is not sufficient, and that is why they need to take it in their diet. Meat has the right amount of taurine to meet the needs of a cat’s body, making them a so-called “obligate carnivore”. The cat foods available in the market contain taurine.
Though domestic cats behave in a similar manner, human protection has encouraged them and managed the ability to hunt during the day and at night. In general, cats are born to hunt. As early as 6 weeks old, kittens already pounce on their food. Hunting is a cat’s natural survival instinct. Cats usually hunt with caution, slowly approaching their prey by crawling on their bellies towards them before they pounce.
Domestic cats that stay indoors hunt less than those that live outdoors since there are no mice to catch. In the wild, the mothers of feral kittens teach them how to kill their prey. Domestic cats seldom develop this skill. For this reason, they are seen playing with what they catch or bringing a mouse to their owner like an “offering” since most of them do not know how to kill one.
Cat lovers have to understand that it is just normal for their favorite pet to hunt a mouse and eat it. Though this may seem to be gross to them, for cats it is a normal thing to do, and most of all, it is fun. Hunting is a natural behavior among cats, and they need to exercise this skill even though they are hunting their toys or some feathered fishing pole. In case domestic cats go out to hunt, their owners should remember to deworm them two times a year, since rodents are carriers of intestinal parasites that can infect them as well as humans.