Why does your cat bring you dead critters? Just picture it – you’re getting ready to leave for work. You are dressed all spiffy, you give your cat a pat on the head on your way out the door, and you’re stopped short as you realize there is a dead mouse on your front step. Kitty strikes again!
If you have a cat who spends any time outdoors, this little anecdote is probably something you’ve experienced at least once. Why does your cat bring you dead critters? I have to say – this is quite the topic to research online. The opinions out there range from these “gifts” are the highest praise your cat can give you, proof of their undying love, all the way to your cat feels pity for you with your lack of hunting prowess. There was even one person whose opinion was more or less that your cat doesn’t care about you and is simply trying to mark her territory.
Why Does Your Cat Bring You Dead Critters?
I think it’s important to keep in mind that cats are hunters by nature; just because a domestic housecat may spend a great deal of time indoors and typically gets his food from a can doesn’t make his hunter instincts any less profound. Cats are likely to bring prey indoors or where you will otherwise see it (like your front step), and according to International Cat Care, their hunting behavior peaks between 1 and 3 years of age.
A post on Animal Planet’s website supports that the lovely dead bird is actually a gift – “a gift offered by a cat, whether a mole, bird or unidentified critter part [ew!], is the highest tribute it can pay, proof of devotion to you.” The experts at International Cat Care bring it down a notch to say that your cat choosing to bring her prey to your home is a sign that she feels secure there and it’s a safe place to eat her kill now or later.
If you have a female cat, she has another layer associated with her instinct – feeding her young. A mother cat teaches her kittens to eat by bringing them her dead or almost-dead prey. This explanation also supports the idea that your cat feels that your home is a safe place for her to return with her food.
Regardless of the reason behind your cat bringing you dead animals, try to react positively (hard, I know). Your cat is behaving on instinct, and there is nothing ill-willed in his delivering his prey to you. If you want to encourage him toward leaving his “gift” in a specific location, like the front porch, you may consider relocating the critter to that area while praising your cat for a job well-done. If you do this enough times, he may make the positive association that the porch is where his prey belong… hopefully.