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?
Cat breeds and mousing
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.
Everything you need to know about cats and mice
- Your cat might be a good mouser if they carry toys in their mouth. This is especially true if they look like they “own” the toy.
- If your cat is curious, active, or persistent, they may be a good mouser. However, a good hunter will abandon an effort that’s gone on too long.
- Females may be better mousers than males, possibly because they teach their kittens to hunt.
- An older cat may be a better mouser than a kitten thanks to experience.
- Spayed or neutered cats may be better mousers. “Fixed” cats are able to focus on things other than mating.
- If your mouse problem is outside or in a barn, consider adopting a feral or semi-feral cat. They may not be a great companion cat, but they can deter mice.
- Never adopt a cat just to kill mice. If your problem is serious, consult a pest control service.
- 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.
- Reward your cat for leaving you a “present,” even if it’s disgusting. And keep plastic gloves handy for disposal!
- 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 see your vet regularly.
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.