Did you know that house cats and tigers share about 96% of their DNA? When you think of a tiger chances are, you’re thinking of a fierce predator. The same is true of most house cats. Domesticated house cats are direct descendants of big cats, tigers in particular, which means that the same genes that make tigers such effective hunters are present in your average house cat.
Cats are the original exterminators. These fierce pint-sized hunters have been proving their worth since the dawn of civilization by hunting, catching, and killing rodents. From 18th century pirate ships, to English castles and regular old barns, cats have been underfoot for thousands of years, taking rodent control into their own paws.
In this article we will discuss which cat breeds make the best mousers as well as how to train your cat to catch mice. We will also be talking about how to care for a cat that hunts mice and answering some frequently asked questions about these wonderful companions. Today, the goal is to tell you absolutely everything you need to know about the best cats for catching mice.
- 1 What Breed of Cat is Best for Catching Mice?
- 2 How Good Are Cats at Catching Mice?
- 3 How to Train Your Cat to Catch Mice
- 4 How to Care for a Cat That Catches Mice
- 5 Frequently Asked Questions
What Breed of Cat is Best for Catching Mice?
While almost any domestic house cat can be trained to hunt and catch mice there are a few cat breeds in particular that have better hunting skills than others. Here we will tell you about ten of the best cat breeds for catching mice.
Maine Coon: When it comes to choosing a cat breed for catching mice, a Maine Coon should be at the top of the list. These cats are exceptionally skillful hunters because of their large size (Maine coons can weigh over 20 pounds) and agility.
These cats originated in the United States in, you guessed it, Maine. They were kept on docks and ships to control the rodent population. A Maine Coon also has extremely good hearing and hunting instincts, making it the best cat breed for hunting mice.
Other great cat breeds for catching mice include:
- Persian: Persian cats are well known for their above average intelligence and strong natural hunting skills. While some Persians have a tendency to lie around, and may come off as lazy, they are extremely intelligent and observant which makes them great mousers.
- Turkish Angora: Turkish Angora cats are one of the oldest breeds around today, dating as far back as the 17th century. These cats are thought to be one of the most intelligent breeds in existence. This, coupled with their athleticism and energy, makes these cats incredibly good mousers.
- Siamese: Siamese cats are more muscular and energetic than many other breeds and are known for their exceptional hunting abilities. These cats are an ancient breed that were once worshiped and usually like to get a lot of attention.
- Manx: Manx cats were bred on the Isle of Man and were commonly used as ship or farm cats because of their skill in hunting mice. Manx cats are easily identified by their naturally short tails.
- Siberian: Siberian cats are known for being a fearless breed which makes them very capable mousers. These cats typically are not nervous or afraid of loud noises like many cat breeds. They are also well known for being one of the few allergenic cat breeds.
- American Shorthair: American Shorthair cats have been in the united states for centuries and were originally bred to be ship cats, helping to keep mice and rats away from valuable foodstuffs on traveling ships. These cats have a deep natural hunting instinct.
- Burmese: Burmese cats are specifically known to be extremely intelligent and expert mousers. These cats tend to act like dogs and can even be taught to play fetch.
- Japanese Bobtail: The Japanese Bobtail is another breed of cat that has been hunting mice for a long time. These friendly felines were originally used to keep silk factories rodent free.
- Chartreux: Chartreux cats have been helping to control the mouse population in France for centuries. These cats are unique mousers because they usually stalk their prey for long periods before catching it.
As with any animal, breed is not everything. While these ten particular cat breeds are specifically known for their skill in hunting mice, whether a cat will actually make a good mouser or not will still depend on how it was raised and if it was taught to hunt as a kitten.
There are some cats that just will not hunt period. A house cat is called a domestic cat for a reason and because they are so domesticated, sometimes a cat may not have hunting instincts. Sometimes even when a cat seems to exhibit predatory behavior it still will not hunt. Cat breeds that typically do not make good hunters include:
- Russian Blue
- Siberian Forest
- Selkirk Rex
These cat breeds tend to be lazy and low maintenance and will prefer curling up on the couch over any athletic activities including hunting mice.
How Good Are Cats at Catching Mice?
Cats have very acute senses, which is one of the many things that gives these cuddly cuties such great hunting skills. Mice and rats are typically not the cleanest of animals. They also have claws and tails that make scratching noises when they move around. Both of these factors make it easier for cats to smell and hear rodents.
How good a cat is at catching mice will depend on a number of factors. For example, if a house cat was never trained to hunt as a kitten it is less likely to be a good mouser. On the other hand, almost all cats are curious and playful by nature which means that even a cat with no training might go after a mouse. It is, however, unlikely that a cat who was never taught to hunt will manage to catch or kill their prey.
Cats that have been trained to hunt will typically be excellent mousers. Most cats are trained to hunt by their mothers when they are kittens, however, it is possible to train a cat to hunt mice yourself.
How to Train Your Cat to Catch Mice
Training your cat to catch mice can be done in a variety of ways depending on the breed of your cat and its experience with hunting of any kind. If your cat already chases mice but has not caught one yet, try getting a toy mouse for your cat to chase and give it praise or a treat once it catches it. Playing hunting games with your cat is another great way to train them to be good mousers.
If your cat seems to be afraid of mice or uninterested completely, you will need to start slower. Try to engage your cat with brightly colored, feathery cat toys or strings. Once you get your cat to interact with these you can introduce balls and toy mice for them to catch.
Always remember to praise your cat or give it a treat once it catches something. This lets your cat know that you are happy with them and will encourage them to repeat the behavior.
Because cats are usually taught how to hunt by their mother’s, one of the best ways to train any cat to hunt mice is to bring another cat around that already hunts. A cat that is a good hunter can teach your cat any tricks of the trade that it may have missed out on as a kitten.
Having another cat around to help train your furry friend will probably show results much faster than training with toys and treats.
How to Care for a Cat That Catches Mice
The best rule you can follow to take care of a cat that catches mice is to try to keep them from eating mice. There is a common misconception that if you don’t feed your cat it will make a better hunter. This is simply not true. In fact, the opposite is more accurate. You always want to make sure that your cat is well fed in order to give them as much energy as possible.
Cats that kill mice will sometimes bring you the dead rodent or leave it somewhere in plain sight for you to see. This is a completely normal behavior and is most likely just your cat wanting to show you what a great job they did. When this happens however, it is important that you always wear gloves when disposing of the dead rodent and try to discourage your cat from eating it. Also clean the area where the dead rat or mouse was with bleach or disinfectant spray.
Always be sure to watch your cat for any signs of illness after catching a mouse. Common signs of illnesses contracted by rodents are:
- Mobility Issues
- Changes in Behavior
- Unexplained Weight Loss or Gain
- Litter Box Issues
- Diarrhea or Constipation
- Blood in Urine, Stool, or Vomit
If your cat begins to display any of these symptoms take them to a veterinarian immediately. Remember rats alone once spread the black plague which killed around 25 million people in 4 years so the possibility that a rodent could pass disease on to your cat is not a stretch of the imagination.
Frequently Asked Questions
If you are considering the idea of getting a cat to help with pest control, chances are you have a few questions. Here we will answer some frequently asked questions about having a cat that hunts mice.
Why Do Cats Play With Mice Before Killing Them?
Why cats play with their prey before killing it is a question, we humans have been asking ourselves for centuries. Some people believe that because cats have such a playful nature, they simply want to make the thrill of the hunt last longer. Others even believe that cats are just cruel.
The truth behind this behavior is far less complicated. Cats play with their prey before killing it to protect themselves.
Rats and mice may be smaller than most cats, but they do have teeth and claws of their own that they can, and will, use to defend themselves against a feline attack. A cat may also hunt birds which have sharp beaks and talons.
By playing with their prey and tiring it out before going for the kill, cats minimize their own risk of injury.
Is it Dangerous for My Cat to Eat Mice?
It is dangerous for your cat to eat mice. Cats are natural hunters and have a digestive system more than capable of breaking down small bones and fur. The danger to your cat from eating mice or rats, is the risk of contracting diseases or parasites. Mice and rats are commonly associated with carrying disease and this applies to cats as much as humans.
If your cat eats a mouse that has a disease it will contract that disease as well. Rodents also carry parasites like fleas and ticks that can transfer to your cat. Another big concern here is poisons. Rat and mouse poisons usually take a few days to kill a rodent once they have been ingested. If your cat happens to eat a mouse that has been poisoned it can poison your cat as well.
The bottom line, is that while a cat that is a good mouser is more than capable of killing mice and preventing a mouse problem, allowing a cat to eat mice can cause serious health problems.
Can Mice Sense a Cat in The House?
A common question from people trying to find a popular breed of domestic cat for pest control is whether mice will be able to sense that a cat is around the house. The answer to this question is yes.
Cats release a chemical signal that will scare mice away when they smell it. If you have a litter box the smell of the cat waste inside a litter box will also send mice running in the opposite direction.