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Cats hunting keeping me awake at night

Discussion in 'Cat Training and Behaviour' started by TitanLoose, Mar 26, 2019.


  1. TitanLoose

    TitanLoose PetForums Newbie

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    Good afternoon all!

    Last night was absolute torture for me as my 2 year old female cat named Oreo decided to bring me 5 live mice over the period of the evening! Previously she's caught and left a single dead mouse in the lounge and a beetle or two but her hunting instinct has never been this strong. All 5 of the mice were fully alive (some more damaged than others) and I disposed of each one, making sure Oreo wouldn't find it again.

    Oreo has always gone outside during all times of the day and hasn't used a litter tray since we rescued her, so I feel like shutting her inside would be cruel and I know she would scratch and cry to be let outside. I couldn't relax and barely got any sleep last night as I was so worried about her bringing in a mouse and leaving it to bury itself in my sofa or wardrobe - thankfully I was awake as the last mouse was delivered around 04:00!!

    Anyone had any experience with this before? I fully appreciate and understand that cats are natural hunters and I expect a few trophies to be left around but surely not 5 in a single evening?! She's never been like this before and I wonder if there is anything I can do to ensure this doesn't become a frequent thing. A few points to note: 1) She rarely plays with anything despite how much we encourage it. 2) She eats plenty of food and has plenty of treats. 3) There is a cat flap in the kitchen which is open all day/night and the bedroom window is open all day/night.

    All help is appreciated! Thanks in advance
     
  2. chillminx

    chillminx PetForums VIP

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    Hi @TitanLoose and welcome :)

    5 live mice in one night is certainly a lot for most cats to bring home! If they were quite small mice they were possibly juveniles who had recently left the nest and had remained within the vicinity, so all Oreo had to do was pick them off one by one.

    A cat's hunting instinct is not triggered by their appetite. It is triggered by the movements and the sounds their prey make. This is why cats often catch prey and just play with it. Or in Oreo's case she brings it home to you as a gift. She is not hungry enough herself to eat it, so she thinks maybe you might like to eat the mice instead. It is quite endearing really, ;) Though it's no fun having to catch the mice if they are running around your home.

    I do have this problem with one of my cats bringing in a live mouse occasionally. I put down a humane mouse trap in the house, with a few pieces of cereal inside it. The mouse then enters the trap during the night and is ready next morning for being safely re-homed to my garden. (I put the mice in the top of one of my compost bins as there are nice tasty vegetable seeds for them to eat, and there is a channel running down the inside of the bin to a way out at the bottom.) The humane mouse traps do seem to work well.

    But my fear is of one of the cats bringing in an injured mouse, the mouse hiding under a kitchen unit and dying. So the first I will know about it will be the awful smell as the body decomposes! :( (This has happened a couple of times over the years, euggh!)

    Cats are crepuscular by nature which means they instinctively hunt most at dawn and dusk (though this is not exclusive). To reduce the amount of hunting Oreo does would mean keeping her shut indoors overnight and not letting her out until a couple of hours after dawn. Doing this would certainly help the young birds ( juveniles) when they start appearing soon, as the juveniles are very vulnerable to predators in the early morning hours when they (the birds) are busy searching for food.

    However as you have never kept Oreo indoors at night, then as you say, she is not going to like it one bit and she could become stressed by such a restriction. This kind of limit on their freedom is best imposed from the start when one first adopts the cat. It probably would have worked with Oreo as she was still young enough when you adopted her to adapt to being kept indoors at night.

    The RSPB says that putting a collar on the cat, with a bell on, helps save some birds from being caught, but of course a bell is not going to make any difference to Oreo catching mice. Only a collar with a safety snap release should be used, and Oreo may just pull the collar off.

    Cats are great opportunists, so a cat who goes out with a full belly may still catch prey but is less likely to eat it than if she/he hunts on an empty stomach. If you don't want Oreo bringing mice home perhaps you should feed her less so she will be hungry when she hunts, and will eat the mice she catches instead of bringing them home.

    I am not suggesting you starve her, but perhaps feed her 2 set meals of wet food a day and then let her supplement her diet the rest of the time by hunting. This is how most family cats were fed when I was a child. If you leave dry food out for Oreo, take it up, or she will always have a full belly from snacking constantly.

    Note, that if she starts eating her prey regularly she will need worming regularly too (every 3 months) in case she has tapeworm.
     
    TriTri, sandy-cat and TitanLoose like this.
  3. TitanLoose

    TitanLoose PetForums Newbie

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    Hi @chillminx , thanks for your reply. I found it really helpful!

    I'm thinking that if I lay a few humane mouse traps around the house it would capture any mice that I miss either during working hours or during the night. It's making me feel extremely stressed thinking that if 2/3 fall under my radar it wouldn't be long before they breed and I have a home infested with mice. It's quite strange that Oreo is acting this way as ever since Oreo was rescued we had two pet fancy rats who often ran around the house whilst Oreo was roaming free (under strict supervision of course!) and she never seemed bothered by them. Sadly the rats passed in November 2017 but it's strange how Oreo could tell they were a part of the household and not prey.

    I will try the feeding technique as you've suggested but I fear this won't make much difference as our 8 month old male cat Pumpkin (the rascal in my profile picture) ensures that he always finishes Oreo's food once he has finished with his bowl! Therefore I don't feel like she ever gets a full meal and besides this she is a very fussy eater, she won't eat anything that isn't her normal food so I can't ever imagine her eating a mouse o_O

    When Oreo was first rescued I tried a safety collar with a bell which lasted an afternoon before she went out and 'lost it'. I've tried since and she freaks whenever it's on her so I'd feel cruel trying it again. I worm both cats religiously alongside their flea treatments and touch wood we haven't had any problems for a long while.

    I am hoping that Oreo has finished off the litter of mice and there are no more to be hunted but I will try locking her in tonight to see how we get on. Thanks again for all your helpful advice and fingers crossed she's had her fair share of hunting for the year!!
     
    sandy-cat and chillminx like this.
  4. chillminx

    chillminx PetForums VIP

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    Hi again @TitanLoose - the mice Oreo is bringing in from outdoors are likely to be wood mice, or possibly voles, and neither of these will breed in your home. They may nest and breed near our homes, e.g. in outbuildings, sheds or garages perhaps, but not in the home itself.

    House mice breed in our homes but they arrive by getting in through pipes or gaps around pipes. They are not brought indoors by cats. They tend to live under the floorboards, or in the gap between the outer and inner walls of the house.

    You may never see house mice, but your cat may hear them (if you have them) and become attracted to the sounds. The chances are you don't have house mice anyway, not every home has them.

    EDIT: it was brave of you to allow your pet rats to run around with Oreo nearby! I wouldn't have trusted her an inch with those rats if you'd left her alone with them! Predator instinct is a powerful thing! ;)
     
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  5. chillminx

    chillminx PetForums VIP

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    TitanLoose likes this.
  6. TitanLoose

    TitanLoose PetForums Newbie

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    Hi @chillminx thanks again for your reply.

    That is excellent news! Hopefully if missed the mouse would find its way back out of the house. It wouldn't be nice to find a dead mouse under the fridge but at least they won't breed in the home.

    I would estimate that there are 20-30 cats in our local area so with a bit of team work I am sure they can remove whatever mice are left in the vicinity (and not leave it all up to Oreo to bring home to us :Arghh) Thank you for providing the mouse trap link, I will be sure to look into those if the problem persists again tonight.

    Thank you for your continued help, you have made me feel a lot more relaxed and hopefully I can grab some sleep tonight. Enjoy the rest of your day, let's hope this sunshine stays! :)
     
    chillminx likes this.
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