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Why Cats Bring Live Prey Home

Updated on August 9, 2009

The following scenario often takes place in a cat occupied dwelling: an owner is sitting down on the sofa, enjoying the tranquil evening and possibly reading a book or knitting. Suddenly in comes kitty with something in its mouth. The owner is unsure of what it is until kitty willingly deposits the soft item right at the owner's feet. Startled, the owner starts screaming as she notices that the soft item was a mouse and worse, the mouse is still alive! So she shoos kitty away and chases the mouse with a broom. Poor kitty hides under the bed, startled by the owner's reaction and with its feelings slightly hurt.

Reasons why cats bring live prey at home

  • The Ultimate Gift

In the cat owner's eye, the cat was being naughty in deciding to bring live prey in the living room. In the kitty's eyes, the owner instead was being quite rude in refusing, the ultimate gift of love. Indeed, kitty in this scenario hunted that prey with its owner primarily in mind.  The cat worked hard  to get the prey, dazed it enough so to carry it in its mouth and ultimately carried it this way up to the home to display it at the owner's feet. 

  • A Lesson of Life

This behavior is quite common in a cat's world. In particular, it can be seen in mother cats which will bring live prey to their kittens so to show them how to hunt. The kittens therefore will watch their mom pounce at it and daze it enough so to deliver the final bite that will kill it. So kitty perhaps was simply trying to give the owners an important life lesson. 

  • A Safer Place

When kitty is not offering its owners the live prey it is really simply looking for a safe corner. The cat instinctively knows that if he or she brings the live prey in the home, there are lower chances for it to escape. Therefore, the cat will enter the home with the prey in its mouth and very likely will head quickly towards a small room or a corner.

Owners of cats at times may be surprised how the cat plays with their prey. The methods of tossing and turning the prey may appear like a ''corrida style'' torture. Yet, there is a natural explanation as to why the cat may engage is such sadistic behaviors. In reality the cat is trying to daze the prey as much as possible in order to deliver the deadly bite. 

When dealing with rodents and birds, the cat risks getting bit if the prey is strong enough. This bite may easily get  cats infected putting a cat in the wild at risk of sepsis and death. So the cat may appear to be playing with the prey while in reality he or she is working on getting the prey dazed and exhausted. It all really comes down to instinctive behaviors, applied in domestic settings. 


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      7 years ago

      you are all fools. cats are one of the top reasons the world's finest wild animals are on decline. Cats kill native species that play vital roles in ecosystems. All for what? so humans can have pets to pet. If this does not make sense to you, your worthless. Keep your cats inside.

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      8 years ago

      My cat leo keeps bringing in huge horrible slugs and putting them in his bowl! He does this about 3-4 times a week! I don't know what to do about it, its quite funny behaviour

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      9 years ago

      Awwww, my kitty brought me home a baby bunny Saturday. It happened just the way the story read. I was lying on the couch watching TV when she came trotting onto the patio with it and dropped it at the screen door. I behaved just as the story said, yelled at Zoey and shooed the bunny away. Then Zoey after and caught it again and brought it right back. This time I made Zoey come in and shooed the bunny away. Ever since Zoey has been screaming at me. I feel bad now. Thanks to your article now I know to thank her instead of yell at her.

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      9 years ago

      My kitty "Elvis" brought me a gift last night...A beautiful flower from the nieghbors garden..After I thanked him, he was so pleased with my response he went out for more. I now have a nice bouquet.

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      johnnie scott 

      9 years ago

      my cat has just brought in what we thought was a mouse.but on closer inspection it had wings .then it started to flap about .and to my amazemet found out it was a very small BAT . how the hell did she catch that ?

    • profile image

      Phobos and Tina 

      10 years ago

      Our kitties are great mousers! The problem is when They let that mouse or rat loose in the house to play with and the damn thing makes its self at home in the kitchen. They are hard to get rid of and seem to be experts at extracting peanut butter from the traps without getting caught.

    • Tigermadstanley profile image

      Amanda Davey 

      10 years ago from Canterbury, Kent, UK

      Over the years we've had lots of presents from our various cats. Goldfish that have lived for years. Mice, voles, baby rabbits, birds of various sizes and breeds, frogs, toads, slugs, worms and even a squirrel! We always say 'thank you' and try and save the gift whenever we can.

      The strangest gift we were given was a very solid piece of yorkshire pudding deposited through the cat flap one evening.

      Thanks for taking the time to write such an informative hub.


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