If you own a female cat who you let outdoors on a regular basis, you will likely be all too familiar with this one. You open your front door to go retrieve the mail and there it is, a dead rodent laying at your feet. You may have also had the privilege of having to chase a baby squirrel or chipmunk out of the house. Why does your cat bring in dead animals?
What Causes This Behavior?
To understand why your cat does this, you have to remember what your cat’s basic instinct is: To hunt. While it is rare for an indoor/outdoor male cat to have this habit, it can happen however, it is far more common among females. If you observe wild female cats of all breeds and sizes in the wild, you will find that the female is usually the more dominant hunter.
Cats were only ever partially domesticated almost 10,000 years ago and this is why they have not lost their hunger and instincts to be hunters. They also still have the ability to digest raw meat as well which is common among feral cats. When it comes to semi-domestication, they don’t hunt wild creatures for the meal. You will find many times they don’t even kill insects that they find indoors. Much of a semi-domesticated cat’s playing relies on its prey staying alive. Hunting is a game to them and yet we still find female cats killing or injuring wild creatures and bringing them home.
It’s a common misconception to say house cats are domesticated. They are and will only ever be semi-domesticated at best.
If you would like to learn more about this, read: Why Cats Will NEVER Be Domesticated.
You Are Family
When a female cat brings home a dead or half-living rodent it is not a bad behavior. In the wild, the mother teaches the young how to kill and eat by retrieving wild creatures and bringing them home. It is a female’s natural instinct to do this. For spayed and domesticated females, they likely haven’t been trained to do this so, where did the habit come from? They look to you as their primary giver, their parent. We must keep in mind that no cat is ever fully domesticated and natural instincts don’t die out. So to them, they are merely acting out motherly instincts. By bringing you home dead or partially injured rodents, they are saying that you are their family and just as you adopted them, they have adopted you too.
With that being said, before you scold your cat for bringing home dead creatures, keep in mind just why she does it. It’s certainly not to make a mess of things. She is just showing you that you are her family and she cares for you. She simply wants to bring you food, just as you bring her food. Bon appetit!