July 30, 2010

Cats Are Hunters

Filed under: Cat behavior — Dr. Amber Reed @ 8:27 am

All felines, even house cats, have evolved from a long line of predatory animals.  Indeed, many of your cat’s most famous attributes like soft, silent paws, sharp teeth, and superior night vision have evolved to make them better hunters.  As such, the natural instinct to hunt is incredibly difficult for a cat to shake.  Even more interesting, is the fact that the feline hunting abilities are what encouraged the Egyptians to domesticate them in the first place.  Cats were even used on sailing vessels from Europe and bound for the Americas for their ability to hunt and kill pesky mice.

Nevertheless, in the past hundred years or so, cats have gone from being prized as hunters to being loveable house pets.  As you can see, our expectations of cats have changed considerably.  Yet, while we hope to have cute, cuddly, and cherished companions our cats are still hard wired to hunt.  An obvious example of this deeply ingrained characteristic can be seen in the way your cat plays.  In many cases, hunting behavior and play behavior in cats cannot be distinguished.  Stalking, pouncing, scratching, and biting are all natural hunting behaviors.

Have you ever wondered why your cat is insistent upon delivering unwanted gifts to your door?  Just about the last thing any cat owner wants to see is a dead mouse or bird at their doorstep, but even this behavior is a clear indication that your cat is a predator.  Cats will capture and deliver dead animals for a number of reasons.  Some researchers believe it is because they are aware of our inferior hunting skills and that they’re treating us like kittens by delivering our food.  Most cat experts believe that capturing and delivering animals is simply an expression of your cat’s innate drive to hunt and kill prey and that scolding your cat for these efforts is futile.

About Dr. Amber Reed

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