Q My cat, Lucy, uses the doggy door to go into our fenced backyard. We have a bird feeder out there, and every once in a while, I discover a dead bird on my pillow. I almost faint at the sight. I want to scold Lucy, but she looks at me with such pride. Lucy is about eight years old, but she is as healthy as a kitten. Why is she doing this?
A Cats have novel ways of showing that they love us and that they are worth hunters. My Callie once presented me with a huge dead rat – like you, I nearly fainted. Whether these “gifts” are dead birds, rats, or crickets, our cats are displaying their hunting instincts. We may keep their food bowls full, but our domesticated cats are not hunting out of hunger.
Some cats do bring their prey back home with plans to snack later, but most just leave the carcass lying around. Experts in feline behavior speculate that cats may bring us these “gifts” in an effort to train us. Perhaps they have realized what lousy hunters we are. Or maybe they do it because they want our approval. They can’t go out and buy expensive gifts on charge cards, so they hunt and offer us what they view as valued presents.
In any case, you can’t snuff out Lucy’s need to hunt. It’s hardwired in her brain. Instead, give those prey critters more of a fighting chance by putting a bell on Lucy’s collar. If your cat goes outdoors, you probably shouldn’t put up bird feeders – keep those for indoor cats to enjoy watching from the window. As an alternative, offer Lucy some fake prey to stalk and chase in your home, such as battery-operated toy mice that move erratically. Happy hunting!
To learn more about your cat’s behavior, purchase The Cat Behavior Answer Book from Catnip.