Q. We sometimes get field mice in the basement, and my cat has a habit of killing them, then bringing them upstairs and laying them at my feet. Is she trying to show me the incredible booty she has gathered? She doesn’t eat the mice — she just presents them, which makes it a little confusing.
Dear Ms. Pye,
A. It is not uncommon for cats, especially for those who are allowed to go outside (which we don’t recommend) to bring home dead prey and then drop it right in front of their owners. Some have wondered if the cat wants to demonstrate how proud they are of their conquest and even whether their pet is tying to taunt them by saying, “I’ve got something special, and you don’t.”
But it is more likely that the cat is displaying a misplaced instinct to teach her kittens how to eat prey. “I’ve prepared this for you. Now eat up.” The behavior, we should point out, is more common among females.
Another possible explanation is that the cat is experiencing some kind of inner conflict. Yes, she wants to capture the food, but she doesn’t want to eat it. Nonetheless, she feels compelled to bring it home to her “nest.”
Whatever the reason, your cat is not trying to ick you out. She’s just finding outlets for her natural proclivities.