Do all cats hunt?
Yesterday I was speaking with my friend Olivia and the question came up ‘do all cats hunt?’ We both knew the correct answer, and yet I realized that many don’t, so I decided to write this article.
As most of you (my followers) know, I have a cat named “Lynx”. I had gotten “Lynx” at my local rescue mission last year. “Lynx” was about a year and a half (and I say “about” because I missed placed her paperwork when moving, just after I got her).
Part of my original motivation to get her was that I lived in a place infested with mice (and I’m a cat person), and although some mice are cute, these weren’t. When “Lynx” was brought into the home she needed some time to adjust to her surroundings, yet within a month I got to see why I instinctively choose her. She was a fabulous hunter! She had killed at least three mice (within that short span of time), and had been staking their hiding places by the time we had moved out!
So why was “Lynx” such a great hunter? Was it something innate? Or was it taught?
Actually, cats are taught at a young age how to hunt by their mothers. From the time the kittens are up and playing (between the ages of 5 weeks and 6 months) the mother cat is usually bringing dead mice to them. In the beginning the kittens may think the mice are play things and will paw at them and even play with the dead mice, but they will eventually lose interest once they are hungry and go to their mother’s milk.
Soon the mother cat will bring live mice and kill the mice in front of the kittens; or bring a half dead mouse to her kittens and allow them to kill the mouse. The Mother will continue to do this until the kittens are not only killing the mice, but eating them on their own. Although it would appear that all cats know how to hunt, the truth is that this usually is not the case.
There is also the fact to take into consideration regarding the type of breed of cat with which you are dealing. Some cats have been domesticated for so long that the skill of hunting has become dormant.
There are specific types of cats which were not used for hunting but rather for their beauty; and this has continued for many centuries. Cats like the Persians, and some claim the Siamese cats are examples. We currently have breeds which have been said (by their owners) to have become “too laid back or mellow” to hunt. For those who wish to know, these breeds are as follows: Persians, Manx, Maine Coon, and the Ragdoll. This may not be altogether accurate, (although I thought it important to mention) being that we now know that the true meaning of a hunter has not so much to do with the breed as much as it has to do with weather or not the cat was taught to hunt by it’s Mother.
The beauty of having a cat which has been taught to hunt is that he or she is your own personal pest control agent! For those who have pest problems, finding a cat that has been taught to hunt is a must. You can try going by the cat breed for which there are lists of the different types of mouse hunters available.
Or you could go to your local adoption agency or pet rescue mission and find a barn cat or pound kitten and find yourself a #1 hunter! These cats have been trained from birth by their Mothers and will not disappoint you but will instead keep your home free of mice and other unwanted critters like rats, birds hiding in your walls, bats, raccoons, possums, snakes, reptiles, bugs, and probably more. Your cat will show you his or her love by taking care of your pest problem, and you will build a bond for life.
Now-a-days, it is becoming more difficult for cats to be cats, as humans impose their life styles and living conditions upon their feline pets, and although this is not to say there aren’t benefits to your feline friends being catered to, or to overindulging your beautiful little friends, some of our felines are losing their very desires to hunt or to do much of anything! The problem with teaching your cat to depend solely on you for all of its needs is that the cat eventually becomes lazy, lethargic, inactive, and often times this will lead to depression or gluttony. By the time most cat owners realize what is happening, their little feline friend has developed behavioral issues or patterns which eventually have to be addressed and reversed.
A better idea is to become a friend to your cat. Learn to become more of an active part in your cats lives by becoming their playmate. Just as we get bored and turn to our feline friends for stimulation, so do our cats! By playing with them we help them to avoid becoming lethargic. You will need to learn your feline friend in order to optimize your playtime. Try new things to discover what he or she finds to be fun. Remember your cats true nature as a hunter. This will give you insight into which types of cat toys your domestic cat will most enjoy during playtime with you.
What I have learned with “Lynx” is that she isn’t as receptive to cat toys that appear to flutter in the air, as much as she enjoys chasing a string around the house.
While our male feline “Mojo” prefers the fluttering of a toy that he will leap in the air to catch and pin down. Every cat is different and the only true way to know your cat is to become its friend. This leads up to my firm opinion that you should pick a cat that reflects your personality. Not all cats like to be held, cuddled, and fussed over; and if that is something you like to do, it could cause an issue for you when your feline rejects such treatment. There are also cats who prefer to be treated as babies and be pampered; and if that is something that you do not like to do (or have the time for) then your cat’s neediness will eventually become an issue, thus possibly leading to the need for a new home for the cat. Do your research; and help yourself and a homeless feline by providing them with a new home and living arrangement that benefits the both of you. Also if a hunter isn’t what you want, please do not get one because those cats need to hunt and play in order to be healthy; and their hunting abilities are still needed around the world.