Why Bring Dead Animals as "Gifts" to Cats?

Orange and black cat behind a green toy mouse on gray rug

Although cats have been domesticated for 10,000 years, they still have a strong hunting instinct. That's wonderful news for folks who use cats as a pest management method, but it's not so nice if your fuzzy indoor snuggle buddy discovers a lizard someplace in the home and brings it to the foot of your bed. Cats' natural need to seek prey and provide for their loved ones explains why they often leave dead animals as "gifts" for their owners.

The Thought Behind the 'Gift'

Cats are bred to be hunters. Domestic cats can't help the impulse to hunt and love the pursuit even if they are aware they don't need to catch their own food to survive. Some predator-hunting cats may return their prey to their owners' homes either dead or, perhaps more unpleasantly, occasionally still alive, in order to display their prized catch for later eating, as a teaching tool, or as a present.

Cats are pack animals, thus they frequently wish to share their bounty with their family because of this. Female cats, who often teach their kittens how to hunt and feed, are especially guilty of this. This implies that a cat will consider you a member of their family if they bring you an animal they have caught, whether it is alive or dead. Their instincts are telling them that they must do this in order to survive and that they must teach their family these crucial, life-saving skills.

There is no connection between being hungry and this prey-catching behavior. Instead, the "prey" that indoor cats are most frequently catching is toy mice, balls, and trash that they mistakenly believe they are "hunting." Even though they are inedible, these things could be given to you as presents.

Redirecting Prey Drive With Toys

Although a cat's inherent prey drive cannot be stopped, it may be focused on instead of hunting. Play doesn't reinforce prey drive; on the contrary, it fulfills a cat's want to hunt. Feather wands, laser pointers, moving toys, and other objects that your cat simply cannot resist attempting to grab are all examples of toys that intellectually stimulate its innate prey drive.

A cat needs cerebral exercise, particularly if it appears to have a high hunting drive. It will find anything to satisfy its prey drive if there is nothing to hunt, chase, or catch. As you pass, they could jump on your feet or scale the drapes in an attempt to grab fictitious prey.

Play with your cat frequently each day to refocus their natural hunting instincts. This not only lessens the likelihood of cats or lizards to your door due to behavioral issues, but it also gives the cat exercise. Indoor cats are frequently overweight and might use a little assistance with weight loss through activity.

Many cats are content to chase a laser pointer, but some also need to practice "killing" their victim. If your cat often tries to destroy anything it finds on the ground, like a single shoe, or is irritated, give it something it can "kill," such a tiny stuffed animal.


Sparing Outdoor Wildlife

Outdoor cats are so skilled at hunting and killing local animals that they are regarded as invasive species and harmful to local bird populations. By fastening bells to an outdoor cat's breakaway collar, you may warn animals of an oncoming cat assault.