Last Updated: 2 months ago

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 range from these “gifts” to the highest praise your cat can give you, proof of their undying love, all the way to your cat feeling pity for you with your lack of hunting prowess or just trying to mark her territory.

Why Does Your Cat Bring 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

cat hunting

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

cat marking 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.

#5 Play

cat playing with mouse

Sometimes, cats may bring their kills to their owners as a form of play.

They may see it as a toy and want to share the experience with their owners.

#6 Feeding

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

cat bringing mouse

Finally, bringing a dead animal home 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.

Wrap-Up

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 belongs, hopefully.

cat hunting
Linda
Linda

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.