A lot of people believe that owning a cat is enough to not only keep mice out of their home, but get rid of them all together. A lot of these beliefs stem from some facts but mostly fictional characters we often see in children’s cartoons. I am going to share personal experience with my own two completely different cats and having mice in my house. Don’t be fooled by believing owning a cat will end your problems. They are not tools and never should be owned as one.
Lets get some myths out of the way…
The scent of a cat will keep mice from nesting near by : This is a MYTH
I can tell you first hand, my one cat spends most of his time in my bed and mice were nesting only feet from it.
The smell of cat urine will keep mice out of your home : This is a MYTH
Not only do I have two male cats, but one has a peeing problem outside of the box and will pee just about anywhere there is a soft surface. Yup, still got mice here!
All cats instinctively go after mice : This is a MYTH
Some cats do not learn to hunt properly and will often lose interest in catching a mouse or not be bothered to begin with.
All mice are scared of cats and know when they are near by : This is a MYTH
Seeing a mouse on my bed didn’t shock me, what did was seeing one of my cats sleeping with in two feet of it and the mouse not even caring.
There are three different kinds of cats when it comes to “hunting”. Some will only do it when or if they are ever in the mood, some will do it just for fun, and others actually look to hunt and kill their prey. I have the two polar opposites of this spectrum. I will explain what each cat does differently knowing mice are near by. You will see what I mean.
Joey – A slightly more active Garfield.
- He will only play when he is not preoccupied with sleeping, wanting food, eating food, or cleaning himself.
- When he hunts something down, be it mouse or spider, he loses interest with in 5 minutes.
- He sleeps most of his time, the rest is spent lounging around with his eyes closed.
- It takes a lot to make him wake up, a mouse can crawl on him and he will not notice.
- Rarely reacts to insects or small moving objects.
Twiggy – Tom, with a shot-gun.
- He will play at any opportunity given and will often hiss and get mad when he can’t destroy the toy.
- When he hunts something down, he not only kills it, he eats it.
- He spends a lot of time watching animals outside, playing with my German Shepherds, and trying to pick fights with Joey.
- He will wake up from a pin hitting the floor two rooms away and run to it to investigate.
- Always hunts down and kills insects… then eats them.
Watching the two react to a tiny mouse running loose on the floor I learned two things… One is that Joey will go after it initially, but the second I walk away, he will follow me expecting food. Two is that Twiggy will turn down food, treats, you name it if he thinks he has a mouse cornered. He will spend hours if he knows it is close by. Joey will spend minutes and be done with it. So what about the middle cat? Well, this cat will likely hunt down the mice but he/she will rarely kill it. Instead, they will catch and release it several times for fun. This is the kind of cat that may discourage mice but it certainly wont solve the problem. It will likely just leave you with a mess of mouse turds all over your house.
The issue I see most is that people assume owning a cat or a few cats will always keep mice away. It doesn’t matter how many cats you own, if a mouse finds a safe place and easy access to food, it will go right in. If you want to end a mouse problem with the help of a cat it will have to be one that goes both in and outdoors, or you will have to own a few barn cats. I never advise people to allow their cats to run freely outdoors without supervision, this is just not safe. If you know there is a local feral cat near your home, you can encourage it to stay around your home by offering food, water and shelter but there are down sides to this. It may lead to unwanted breeding, fighting, and spraying. You will want to catch it and have it fixed, then release it back outside. When I say feral, I mean unfit to EVER live with humans not just some homeless cat who desires human affection and food.
The bottom line is this : Yes, cats can and may help cut back on mice in your house but it is very unlikely they will solve the problem. If you have a mouse problem, you will want to take the precautions yourself in order to get rid of them. This includes…
- Cleaning every room in your home, yes I do mean the basement and the attic.
- You will want to keep all food sealed air tight and pay special attention to spills and crumbs on the floor.
- Never plant bushes, shrubs, or bushy plants close to your home and avoid stacking wood within 20 feet from your home.
- Look for access holes and seal them from the inside out.
- If all else fails, you may need to hire a professional to help you.