10 Facts About Cats And Mice

(Picture Credit: Getty Images)

(Picture Credit: Getty Images)

In ancient Egypt, the cat was first valued for devouring rodents that infested the village grain bins. Eventually, people began to admire their other traits, and cats became helpers as well as beloved members of the family. But as they became “domesticated,” prey drive and hunting skills declined, and today not all cats are automatically suited for “mousing.” So, how do you find a modern-day cat with an old soul for hunting?

Most agree breed doesn’t matter as much as temperament and upbringing. The popular Maine Coon, originally bred for mousing, has pretty much lost her reputation as a hunter, and breeds like Manx, Persian, and Ragdoll are said to be too “mellow” or “laid back.” Breeds that do seem to have a reputation for mousing include the American Shorthair, British Shorthair, and American Polydactyl. Athletic breeds like the Bengal and Abyssinian may have the stamina for hunting, but that alone doesn’t guarantee a “good mouser.” Many owners say their best mousers are “pound kitties,” who were adopted from a shelter. Here are some things to consider:

  1. Does the cat carry toys in its mouth — and look like she “owns” the toy?
  2. Is the cat curious, active, or persistent? Some enjoy batting at toys for a few minutes before losing interest. Good mousers have longer attention spans when hunting. Interestingly, a good hunter will abandon an effort that’s gone on too long — saving energy for the next opportunity.
  3. Females may be better mousers than males, possibly because they teach their kittens to hunt; however, many famous mousers in history were male.
  4. Many people feel a slightly older cat may be a better choice than a kitten who is still honing her hunting skills.
  5. Make sure your cat is spayed or neutered. It’s healthier, prevents overpopulation, and a “fixed” cat can focus on things other than mating.
  6. If your mouse problem is outside or in a barn, consider adopting a feral or semi-feral cat from a shelter. Many will provide a spayed or neutered and vaccinated cat at little or no cost. These cats probably won’t become true “pets,” but when you provide supplemental food, water, warmth, and safety, many will stay around for years. In a house, the mere presence of a cat can deter mice.
  7. Never adopt a cat just to kill mice; if your problem is serious, consider consulting pest control or professional extermination services.
  8. A well-fed cat will hunt for entertainment and catch more prey than a hungry cat; never withhold food from any cat in your care.
  9. Reward your cat for leaving you a “present,” even if it’s disgusting…and keep plastic gloves handy for disposal.
  10. Cats who hunt are more susceptible to certain diseases. Experts recommend you worm your cat every six months, research the health concerns in your area (like hantavirus), and have a good relationship with your vet.

Cats are wonderful companions, as our ancestors in the East knew. Having a cat who is also a good mouser is just an added blessing.

  • Pyra Gorgon

    Why not adopt a cat for mouse problems? In the country, cats are needed to keep rodent populations down

    Why should I spay or neuter my cats? Again, super stupid. If they are sterilized then how are they to reproduce when their population numbers are diminished from predators like coyotes, dogs, raccoons, etc?

    This article is useless fluff for any other than cat worshipers living in city space apartments.

    • sharon sampson

      Oh, I have just a little time here. Animals that are domestic means they are NOT wild and management of them (dogs, cats, ferrets, parakeets, cattle, llamas…etc) IS OUR RESPONSIBILITY. I guess you don’t know about how prolific most of these species can be especially cats and bunnies. 4 litters per year? Oh shoot I have a great tale to tell. But all domestic animals should be fixed or controlled!! That is a flat out truth!! Every baby one allows to be born means thousands die from hunger, disease…not just from the wild predators out there.

      Oh I shall be back!! This is a very very big deal!!


      • Pyra Gorgon


        • sharon sampson

          okeedokie….ouch. Thought you were interested in learning.

          • sharon sampson

            This is a huge topic on my plate so you aren’t going to get away with ‘Nevermind’…I am not happy with your attitude and it is only because you don’t understand the environment nor the flora and fauna around you. Let me paint a picture for you…

            I live in redneck land, sigh. Feral cats are everywhere. I had a major love affair (keep it cool) with this gorgeous male pure siamese cat. I got pretty carved up but he was working his butt off to hang out with me…followed me and the dogs and the horses everywhere. Can’t believe the…’love’ we had. A year ago my neighbor shot this cat, tried to save him at the vets but he died.

            Then the bunny and mice population boomed… but soon I’ve got 2 new ferals taking care of bunnies (ouch) and mice. They have their own ‘territory’…cats that aren’t fixed live a very short life. Fighting is a big deal out there in feral cat land. Testosterone.

            There is a difference between ‘feral’, ‘stray’ and someone else’s kitty. Ferals only know the world they were dumped into…lots of ferals were brand new kittens DUMPED off a country road somewhere. To die. This killing of animals when they become INCONVENIENT really really pisses me off. My siamese guy (Romeo) was definitely a feral. Gorgeous male cat. I’ve never known a real ‘male’ cat as most people get it to spay/neuter their cats/dogs because they CARE for their animals. Or I will be in their face with all the reasons it is critical to give initial vaccinations (don’t go crazy) and fixed. I almost married this guy who got a gorgeous yellow lab male and wouldn’t fix him because…well, he did what most males do…imagine the dog’s stuff is his stuff…bad bad bad. One day this well trained lab smelt a female’s sex scents and he jumped the fence, this guy’s younger son went after him and they got hit by a truck right in front of their home in front of me and Daddy. Both survived but guess what? Doggy got his balls removed and lived happily ever after. This guy also wanted to do a mink farm…and I dumped his ass finally and for good. Otherwise he was an incredible man…

            I got two kittens a few years ago, a male and female to take care of mice in my RV. Will never use traps again, especially those horrible sticky traps! I killed a few mice with traps and one day I discovered their babies in one of my speakers. Looking out to see where the hell mom or dad was. So, I collected these babies and raised them and released them far away…I know! how sick is that?! No way would I allow any animal to suffer if at all possible. Cats are brutal! If you are caring for your cats like family, feeding them will mean they will play with the fun mice and not eat them. Reducing their food to once per day will help them kill faster and start eating the mice.

            My cats are indoor cats. Period. My kittens got preggo at 7 months old!! Because I made that mistake I punished myself by keeping all the kittens…no way was I going to allow these babies to take up spaces for other kittens (lets talk about numbers…millions that need homes) and it was the best punishment I’ve ever known. Got them all fixed by trading a parade saddle for a promotion event for a local humane society. Mom and 4 kittens. They came back with their ears lopped off…shows a feral that has been fixed. Right for female, left for male. HORRORS!! Why didn’t someone say they weren’t ferals arrrggghhh?? I finally got over it but clipping the ears saves ferals from being captured and cut open again. You can see at a distance who and what they are as well as that they have had their shots (this is a big deal) and won’t be fighting and pooping out all these kittens that face almost certain death…slowly.

            To imagine cats being enslaved to HAVE to do work (mice) with no protections from virulent diseases and to HAVE to raise kittens, feed kittens…is just WRONG. You can put money down that people who get ferals for mice have got major forgotten mice poisons everywhere. Cats if they don’t eat the poison directly will get very sick and die after eating a mouse that has partaken of the poisons…or a hawk or an eagle or a fisher or a raccoon…etc.

            Lots of feral cats. Never ever worry that you’ll never get anymore cats to replace your ‘enslaved killer kitties’ as they get sick, get shot, get eaten, get made into road pizza!! There are plenty. To imagine the convenience of keeping a population of ‘enslaved killer kitties’ by allowing them to procreate is just simply ignorance…possibly by urban type people that know nothing about animals, harmony and worse they don’t ever plan on becoming part of any ecosystem!

            That damn bible telling us we are SPECIAL we are ABOVE reproach we are better than all other life on this planet and that all these plants and animals are here for us to do with as we please??!! Religions would be far more productive at making GOOD HUMANS by teaching the necessity of humility and couriosity. We are all a part of the life on this planet and if we don’t get our shit together we shall become extinct and I for one would be first if I knew that would clean our genome off the face of this planet. So sad! This world would never miss us…in fact it would be a relief us humans weren’t around anymore… Otherwise I am just not seeing ANY value to believing in any GOD…just does nothing for humans…oh maybe the value of a good bingo game…getting together. But making humans more a part of this world versus separate from this world just ain’t happening because of religion. Any flavor of Religion separates us. (Cept for the bingo game thing every Sunday) Religion is the reason for wars even though wars are really made to MAKE money. Get stock in WAR, you will get very very rich with money…

            Each to his own!! But I am starting to get sick of this religious stuff constipating any real discussions. People are all so ANGRY. Actually they are so very AFRAID…of death, of not keeping up with the new age Joneses. If we could keep sex, religion, and private affiliations PRIVATE, we’d all be able to learn more.

            I am a very country gal…very. I even learned Wilderness Awareness…tracking (the language of the forests), what is what out there, how not to get lost, how to survive without any human niceties around…such a peaceful yet raw place. Definitely humbling…

    • Lisa N Maine

      we are over populated from unwanted cats and dogs… These cats are dying in and out of shelters. How can anyone be so stupid NOT To spay or neuter there animal. Do some research on how many stray and feral cats there are out in the world due to people NOT spaying or neutering!!

      • Pyra Gorgon

        No. Try again. YOU ARE OVER-POPULATED with cats n dogs. Not my area. Here we are over-populated with mice and other vermin.

        I don’t care about cats dying at a shelter, nor do I want any of those psycho-cats in shelters that were abused by whomever or whatever. I care about cats dying before they have done their job of catching the vermin God made them to catch in the first place.

        I got a litter of 5 from a neighbor down the road that were freshly weaned when I received them and another kittie from another neighbor’s litter. After front lining/ a tick and flea dip and a dewormer, they are happy and just beginning their illustrious careers devouring rodents and noxious birds.

        • sharon sampson

          Pyra, ouch. It is OUR fault kitties are dying in shelters AND being tossed back into the wild or even urban areas to die long, painful deaths. Each one of those kitties has a personality such as your own cats. You could always get a kittie to replace the ones you ARE going to lose by being run over, big predators…are they vaccinated with the basics? Noxious birds…perhaps you include ravens? They keep the owls and hawks and eagles away. But I’ve recently watched a raven (having decapitated a baby bunny) try to fly away and actually run into my horse fence…boiiiiinnnnng.

          Noxious birds…no such thing and for someone who is religious that is quite bothersome to me anyway. No life is noxious. We just do not know the ramifications if a particular life disappeared.

          God did NOT make domestic cats, sweetie, oxymoron. I kept the entire liter that I was responsible for allowing to happen and I love each one, each one has their own identities and couldn’t imagine one never coming home.

          Spaying and neutering is our true responsibility for these animals WE created. They are not wild, in anyway shape or fashion. All pets are our responsibility and to allow them to be subject to NATURE’S culling is irresponsible.

        • sewducky

          Best cat, and mouser coincidentally, was a rescue. 5 years old and the owners didn’t want it anymore. Not only was he a good cat, but one of the most balanced and un-psycho cats ever and after about 6 months, the signs of abuse were gone and never did return.

          I had him for a too short decade. And today, I am in no loss of cats…I have a feral who I feed who keeps bringing friends. Last count, my barn had 8 of them, 2 that I can say think this is their house. Plus the cat I saved as a kitten for a pet and the kitten dropped on the road at about 15 days old.

          Fix them. They magically multiply anyway.

  • sharon sampson

    I always tried to rescue the dang mouse. Maybe he’d go and tell the others that cats were indoors! A big log home with big logs has lots of ways for mice to get in…if you feed your cats they will play with the mice until they get away or are…beheaded and the body thrown up against a wall making a headless rorshach blob without the head. The head I then stepped on…the body must’ve gotten eaten. Cruel. If you want them to get better at mousing don’t feed them but once a day…dry food. They’ll be far quicker and catmane?? Hey, the mice are out there and the tide goes out and the tide will come in. Just HAVING cats in your home does the most work!! If you’ve got sweetie pies you cuddle DO NOT ALLOW THEM OUT OF DOORS. I’ve learned the hard way. It is ok by the way to ‘save the mice’ when you can…we humans live more and more in a transition zone where we are a part of the ecosystem. I’ve got 4 cats in a yurt of 720 sq. ft….plus 2 big dogs, an African Grey Parrot (who has made it clear to the cats she’s not to be messed with), 2 feral cats, 12 bunnies (wild and so much fun, I make sure I don’t name them anymore) and 2 gorgeous horses. And this is probably the least amount of animals I’ve taken in…can’t go anywhere until I find a decent babysitter around here…sighs.

    When your cats start bringing in snakes, spiders…just know they love you so much that they are bringing you food. So don’t go crazy, just take anything you don’t want in the house out of the house. I LOVE cats…all animals…but especially cats. I’ve been involved with cougars and bobcats! Gorgeous animals, but predators in a big way. They are everywhere but you’ll never see them…even in the greenways in developments! I am a landscape architect and I can’t tell you how many people I made to understand that one does not put the play areas next to a greenway. I showed them track, hair and scat right there on their property line….next to the play equipment area. I have saved many babies, just wish people would understand cats do not do well by themselves out of doors. Tough to make an outdoor cat into an indoor cat. I get that. But get them to come in regularly at night!!

    I am assuming the shelter got your cat fixed, yes??? If not, she is a gonner sooner than later. Seriously.

  • sharon sampson

    Great article…did you read it Ms. Gorgon? Grins!! Look I do not want to alienate you…you are a super thinker. But PETA be damned….shouldn’t even need a PETA. Animals are so pure of heart, they will love you unconditionally and will not be discouraged if you show you are tired of their loving. Our human drives are artificial and quite sick. One takes a pet they need to know what they are in for and prepared to go the distance, NO MATTER WHAT! Gee, one has to find a cheaper apartment? The animals aren’t allowed? ONE DOES NOT GET RID OF THEIR ANIMAL…NO SIRREEE!! If animals become ‘inconvenient’…and one drags their baby to a shelter and walks away…that person SHOULD NEVER EVER OWN OR TAKE CARE OF AN ANIMAL AGAIN. PERIOD. I just want humans to be more like the animals that love them no matter what. A human dumping kittens/puppies off by the side of the road needs to be exterminated. Or shaken so hard, made to watch what they did to their charges once they dumped them…people who treat animals less than they do their furniture are plainly sick. Why oh why doesn’t a religion worth its salt teach this to their constituents? People are far too removed from the real world. I am embarrassed to be a human…plain and simple. Please! tell me why any human should be proud to be a human!? Please.

    • Pyra Gorgon

      I dunno about the whole hating being human (there are pretty convincing arguments for that, but not going there), but I will share what’s going on with the kitties…

      I have six now: Elijah (yellow and white male), Enoch (black white grey male), Hosea (brother of Enoch and similar markings), Leah the runt female black and striped white, Jael a long haired calico patterned female with pink hint to her yellow gold eyes, and Hagar a black and grey striped topside with black and white checkerboard belly female. In my mind, none are expendable.

      Elijah is teaching the others how to snag mice; Enoch eats anything including frogs (yuck!), Hosea is the fastest runner and one of the best play fighters, Jael sucks at climbing trees but she is sneaky and loves to stalk, Hagar is all attitude and is ready to fight anything despite her half-pint size. Leah is a home body and loves to hide a lot. She and Hagar will eat bugs, but only certain ones. I have fed all my cats freshly killed stuff to whet their appetites for what they are intended to control: squirrel, rabbit, noxious birds (robins, starlings, crows) voles, mice, and moles.

      God has blessed me with a great batch of kitties. None are so nasty spirited or destructive to make keeping them a chore. They crave attention, come to their names now, and follow me into the woods like a lil troop. While out there they expose themselves to natures dangers and are getting valuable experience about good and bad while I am present. The neighbor dog (a wild beagle named Zeke) came upon us out there but he miraculously decided to be quiet and just back off and head home as the kitties were romping around and playing. Maybe Zeke saw I had boots on and attitude in my eyes…

      As for breeding, I think Elijah will mate with Jael and Hosea with Hagar because they already display affection and closeness between them currently. Leah is a runt and it is unclear if she will make a go or not. Enoch seems to have some wanderlust. He can’t go far, though. lol

      I seriously do not want them to become ‘indoor pets’ as they need to do work outside eating vermin, but they are heart stealers. I need to stop playing and talking to them so much, but it gets lonely on a farm. They are forbidden from the home and have their nesting spot in the north shed. So far the coyotes and other vermin of larger size have been staying away but that will change come fall harvest time. I expect about a 50% loss rate from future kitten litters due to predator issues out here. I do not expect to lose my primary six right now because I have been mother cat to them but as they get older I cannot keep doing that. They will have to make a go of it on their own.

      But anyways, yes, I think these kitties will do nicely! They are developing in a perfectly natural environment God made them to inhabit and they LOVE IT. Happy kitties. Yeah…these kittens are sooooooo mistreated. NOT! They’re even getting a bit fat! LOL

      • sharon sampson

        One more thing that you should know…when a population of rodents is stressed by poison or predators…this INCREASES THE numbers per female as well as being more ‘promiscuous’…we humans are so arrogant that we can imagine controlling anything…no kitties, no traps, no poison…you’ll never notice rodents. There are plenty of predators for rodents naturally.

      • sharon sampson

        Pyra, do yourself and your kitties a big favor…dang, just go get them fixed. And initial vaccinations. Being horny in the wild is NOT CONDUSIVE to health or longevity. Cats that are fixed and vaccinated (just the once) will live twice as long and live more healthily, happily.

        Otherwise, my dear, you shall have to learn the hard way. Sexually viable domestic cats are screwed. It will hurt like hell to know if only you had followed my advice…as well it should. That is WHY all us animal lovers out here (the ones that know biology and animal husbandry) try to teach this stuff. From what I have learned about you and your biases this makes no sense whatsoever. This is animal cruelty, plain and simple. I know that is not what you think you are doing but it is. Just wait until you come across one of your beloved felines dead in the midst of giving birth. Seriously a game changer. Your males ripped to shreds, dead because they go hide when they are dying from septicemia. Just trying to warn you.

        • Pyra Gorgon

          Sharon, again, my kitties are NOT GOING TO BE PETS. They are workers here in my orchards and gardens to EAT VERMIN. That is why they are around, this is why I spend what little money I have on some dry food to get them to maturity so they can eat vermin.

          If one dies, I will have to get another. If a litter is lost to coyotes or whatnots, then hopefully one of hte other females will have a litter that makes it. Did I mention we have owls? And I cannot play big predator-keeping-away-mommy for them forever. I have stuff to do! I expect to lose some, and some might abscond also. My one female, Jael, has an upper respiratory infection that I am treating. This comes after I had already given them vaccination against distemper. (I wish I could get them the other vax’es but they are unavailable out here) If she dies, I will not be happy, but I can manage and get another female from the vet shelter clinic. (they have a lot of kittens in there but I really don’t want any of them. they act psycho in those cages and I bet they are emotionally traumatized for life. I don’t need a mental cat from being traumatized at a shelter.)

          Our philosophy on animals is 180 from each other, Sharon. You think I am animal cruel, but I think you lack all perspective and are mental over animals, putting them on a pedestal as if in some nature worship thing. And you KNOW who I worship and He is not nature but the Creator of nature. It is intelligent, sensible, right and proper to respect and love your CREATOR rather than His creation. Because if you cannot love the Creator, then how meaningful is your love for anything created by that Creator? It’s stupid to be anything else. Maybe look into that inverted belief you have.
          God gave dominion to us, not to animals. Yes, it is imperative to be good stewards and to not be cruel which would be a sin. Putting animals into their God-given roles in a natural environment for them IS NOT CRUEL. These cats are doing what God designed them to do and breeding and making more of themselves is what God meant when He said to all creation: “BE FRUITFUL AND MULTIPLY”. Hard for them to do that if you are cutting their nuts off or junking up the female so she cannot conceive. I think that is demonic to do to my kitties. I do not hate them. God did not design cats to be eunuchs in a concrete jungle eating feed pellet nibbles and sleeping in a window all day.

          These cats are in a dangerous environment filled with all sorts of nasty things. Lucky for them they were designed for just that! And they get to explore, climb trees, explore lil animal holes, be lazy laying under a bush or balling up in the crotch of a tree. They get to fully express their predator sides and EAT RAW FLESH and FIGHT. They pounce, play, kill, leave lil piles of ick on the porch…they are just cats, Sharon. Not human children. Keep perspective, please.

          • sharon sampson

            Well I gave it a go. I have to tell you that I was raised on a wilderness cattle ranch and I’ve always had lots of animals so I am pretty familiar with real life…and death. Most of my animals found me. Yes we are 180 apart on this issue…agree to disagree, yes? Huggs!

          • Pyra Gorgon

            Absolutely Sharon! I do respect that you stand on what you feel is most pressing to you. I appreciate your candor and time you give as you present your opinion on this. We do disagree, but not in an ugly or hateful way. And I am big enough to say to you, “You were right…” if I am wrong on this.

            You mention growing up on wilderness cattle ranch….oh? Both my east and west immediate neighbors are cattle ranchers. One, the older, knows his trade well. The other…let’s just say he is a younger man with less notches in his whatever. Question for ya….the younger cattleman often lets his calves and 3rd yearlings get under fence between us (he is terrible at fence maintenance)…how do I drive them back under fence? I always have to call him and then he gets some other fella to do it while riding a Gator. Is there a special Hiyah! hiyah! or something to get em to go where I need them to return? (this happens at least once a month at minimum around here with his cattle)

          • sharon sampson

            There is no excuse for bad fence maint. Sigh. I have no idea of the length but it is so dang cheap to string electric wire…gosh five miles is nothing. Requires weedwacker once a year, good for the kids…just one strand 2′ off the ground would work. Whose property owns that fence? Have you had it surveyed? After 5 years (in my experience), if that fence is on your land then the neighbors own the land on their side of the fence. Just fyi. Are you amiable with your neighbors? Really, 5 miles of electric fence could cost less than $100. Not a big deal. Is that fence barbed wire? Arghhhh. Metal or wood or both posts?

          • Pyra Gorgon

            One mile of barbed wire fencing is approximately $200 because each 1/4 mile roll runs between $40-$55 and you include those wire loops to fasten to the T-post. Drive is .4 mile long. There used to be many hedgewood fence posts that have rotted off or broke that needs replacing, about 30 of them. Each T-post is $4.55 for a 6′ post.

          • sharon sampson

            You don’t need t-posts, the posts already there will work fine with the insulators (not wire loops), probably the 6″ length. If the posts are rotted, oh well, THEY have to fix that fence! Prices change but $200 bucks wouldn’t replace a single one of those calves. Those neighbors need to be sat down and made friends (sorta kinda they don’t need to know that). You could easily SUE them for any hassel, time spent correcting their problems…and they HAVE TO upgrade and fix those fences! If you get hurt (use this in your discussion) what kind of insurance have they in place? Big bucks. You can easily help them to understand you are trying to save them from disaster. The charger will be at least $200-300, the wire, ok 200, insulators another couple hundred? Still, your time dealing with their inventory, your risk of injury (not so much but don’t say I said that I used to ride pissed off dehorned, deballed calves for fun)…(oh and I had to eat a calf ball or a Rocky Mountain Oyster to become a verified BUCKAROO) GRINS…your job is to make nice with your neighbors a vital thing in any day and age. They have to do the upgrades, they have to come and get their precious baby beefs off your property. They’ll be impressed that you know the figures, that is for sure.

          • sharon sampson

            My voice is HAAAUTTTSZAAAHHH. Main thing is to relax, no running, no stress. Just standing still will get those babies to move away. Now if you had horses, easy peasy to traverse, slowly and peacefully behind the calves to move them. Before pushing I would have tried to open a big hole in the fence( and later install a ‘gate’ ,cheap thing to do and important for your neighbors to install if they have any kind of herd they are restricting…you know like a 3 string wire gate with a few cross bars and one wood post at the end? Using a gator is well, has it worked for them? And, sweetie, THEY should always be the one to do the work. This is their problem that magnanimously, you MIGHT possibly help with…when one calf tries a new trick the others watching will do so as well. Including mommies. Is your grass better than theirs? Hummmm.

          • sharon sampson

            Can’t resist…I’ve got a great grandson of Peppy San Badger…the greatest cow cutting horse ever! Cutting calves is for ranches to get all their calves nutted and dehorned. There is always one or two cowboys with these horses that are totally tuned into the calves they are sicced upon. One of the most athletic of any horse event…jumping and dressage is mind boggling and cutting is just as thrilling and taxing.

          • Pyra Gorgon

            Thank you for good advice. Grass is always greener on the other side of the fence, I ‘spose. You’re right, not my job and I don’t want to get trampled by those things.