When your cat curls up on your lap, gives you a quiet mew and purrs himself to sleep, you may find it hard to picture him as a predator. Introduce a mouse into the picture and your sweetheart will most likely spring into an alert, curious stance.
The common domesticated cat comes for a long line of predators that had to hunt to survive. Their natural prey included birds, reptiles and small rodents, including mice. This inner predator is why your cat perks up when birds fly by the window and small cat toys to bat around are so fascinating. With sharp teeth and claws, a strong jaw and lightning fast reflexes, your pet is designed to succeed as a killer.
Feral, or wild, cats with no humans to take care of them survive by scavenging through trash bins, stealing food left outdoors for other pets and hunting down field mice, birds, rabbits and any other small creatures that come close enough to be nabbed. They become skilled hunters out of necessity and their territory is as endless as they need to stay fed.
Most house cats are less likely to kill mice than feral cats because they neither have to hunt any further than their food bowls to survive nor do they have access to many small creatures. Kittens can be taught to hunt mice, but the natural inclination of house cats to actually kill is diminished. That said, it is not unusual for cats with access to the indoors and outdoors to bring home live toys and play with them until they lose interest or their new toy's "battery" dies.
Avoid adopting a cat to kill mice in the home. Not all cats will kill and those that do cannot get into the walls and other hiding places where mice hide. You also endanger your new pet when you turn him into a mouser because he may kill a diseased rodent and contract the disease himself. If you are combining his skills as a mouser with pesticide usage, you could indirectly poison your pet in your attempts to control the mouse population. Another problem with intentionally using domesticated cats to control mice in the home is the mouse may escape injured and end up dying in the walls of your home. Finding and removing the carcass can be a costly and time-consuming process.
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