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.
Most common opinions ranger 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, or just trying to mark her territory.
Why Does Your Cat Briny You Dead Animals?
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.
Here are the most common reasons why do cats bring you dead animals.
#1 Instinctual Hunting Behavior
Cats are natural hunters, and they have an innate drive to catch prey.
Even domesticated cats still have a strong hunting instinct that can be triggered by a variety of stimuli, such as movement or sounds.
Bringing their prey back to their human companions is a way of showing off their hunting prowess and seeking approval.
#2 Offering A Gift
Cats are social animals, and in the wild, they would share their kills with their family members.
When they bring dead animals to their human companions, they may be trying to share their bounty or offer a gift as a sign of affection.
#3 Marking Their Territory
Cats have scent glands on their paws and around their mouths, and they use these to mark their territory.
Bringing a dead animal into the house and displaying it is a way for a cat to mark its territory and show that it is in control of the space.
#4 Seeking Attention
Cats are social animals, and they crave attention from their human companions.
Bringing dead animals to their humans can be a way for them to get attention, especially if they feel neglected or ignored.
Sometimes, cats may bring their kill to their owners as a form of play.
They may see it as a toy and want to share the experience with their owners.
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.
#7 Sign Of Love
Finally, bringing a dead animal can also be a sign of love and trust from a cat to its owner.
They may see their owner as a part of their family and want to share their experiences with them.
Regardless of the reason behind your cat bringing you dead animals, try to react positively.
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.
Dr. Linda Simon MVB MRCVS is a locum veterinary surgeon who has worked in London for the past 8 years. She graduated top of her class in small animal medicine from UCD, Dublin. She is currently a member of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons. Linda is the resident vet for Woman magazine and a frequent contributor to People’s Friend Magazine, the Dogzone website, Vet Help Direct and Wag! Linda also writes content for the CVS veterinary group, Vetwriter and a number of other establishments.
So many people get grossed out when their cats bring them prey. I feel sad for the little critters, but it’s nice to know your pet cares enough to share.
LOL I wondered why our cats would do this. I guessed they thought they were giving me a gift. Now I know!
I have a Daschund that brings dead animals in through the doggy door, this is always eventful in my house because I freak out!!
Haha we have not had my cat give us a dead critter and I am glad! I know it’s their instinct but I doubt I would react positively when I first see the dead critter. Yuck! Silly kitties…
I remember growing up, my best friend’s cat used to always bring her mom dead birds! As a 10-year-old, it was the first time I ever witnessed it but the reasoning (much like yours) stuck with me ever since.
Cats are interesting creatures. What other animal brings a carcass to profess its love?
I never though of them doing that as a gift. That is very interesting and makes sense now that I an aware.
Every single morning I wake up to my cat making the strangest sounds … and he always has a mouse in his mouth!! I know he thinks he is being nice bringing me presents – but i do not want them!! haha
I am a cat person, love cats to bits but one thing I couldn’t stand is smelly poos in the litter trays and when they bring back rodents into the house, but they are still alive and then set them free in the house. Why do cat’s do this! It really cheeses me off! They dont kill them, they just want to play with them!
I actually learned about this awhile back. I realized that they’re doing it for a reason and usually that’s because they love you. It may be gross to us but it’s appreciation for them.
My cats are indoor and we don’t get many critters, but they have brought me dead spiders, which creeps me out to no end
We had a cat that did this all the time and it drove me crazy until I learned why he did it. It was thoughtful … but not necessarily a gift I wanted.
That is interesting! My husband used to have cats and I asked him if they brought him dead critters and he said they never did. Now I wonder why. 🙂