Stop your cat hunting: two evidence based, science backed ways to reduce your cat's hunting behaviours
Cats are instinctive hunters. If they are allowed outside they will hunt birds and small mammals, and probably deposit them in your hallway for you! Whether you are concerned about the environmental impact of your cat, or just want to avoid your cat leaving you little mice presents, there are things you can do to stop your cat hunting and reduce your cat's hunting behaviours.
We have made this article into a quick video for you, which is posted below. If you prefer to watch videos, please click play on it. There is some extra info in the article, along with links to food reviews and our view on raw feeding so, please do read on....
How to stop your cat hunting
Today we are looking at how to stop your cat from hunting. If your cat regularly brings you gifts from outside then you need to watch this video! Maybe you are concerned about the environmental impact of your cats’ hunting, or perhaps you’d just rather not wake up to a mouse in your hallway! Either way, some exciting new research from the University of Exeter has discovered two ways to reduce your cats hunting behaviours.
Cats have natural predatory instincts and if they are allowed outdoors they will hunt: its their nature. Here are two evidence based, science backed ways to reduce your cat’s hunting:
Stop your cat hunting: Increased play
The first method is to play with your cat. Just 5-10 minutes of daily play resulted in a 25% reduction in the number of prey animals brought home by the resident cat. That’s a big reduction for just 5-10 minutes of your time, and play has a multitude of benefits for cats (maintaining a healthy weight and creating mental stimulation and bonding time).
The play has to be done in way that simulates hunting. Remember: your cat is an instinctive hunter, so the play must satisfy that hunting instinct. In the study they used wand toys and a feather on a string so that the cats could stalk, chase and pounce on the ‘prey’ toys. Once the cats had hunted and pounced on the prey, they were given a mouse toy so they could bite and kick it. So the play was simulating the hunting and catching of a bird or small mammal. When we play with our cats, we also give them a healthy, high protein treat once they have ‘caught’ their prey - so they get the full hunting experience!
Stop your cat hunting: High protein commercial diet
The second thing the researchers looked at was diet. They found that providing your cat with a meat based high protein diet resulted in a 36% reduction in hunting. That’s huge - 36% just for changing your cat’s diet! They are not talking about raw feeding here - they are talking about a high meat content, high protein commercial diet, readily available these days. Discover what we think of raw feeding here, and see our dry cat food reviews and wet cat food reviews.
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So there we have it - two evidence based, scientifically proven ways to drastically reduce your cat’s hunting behaviours. Better for wildlife and better for you! If you try this, make sure you let us know how you get on in the comments. We will be doing a new video soon about how to play with your cat, and how to get your kitten used to constructive play, so make sure you subscribe to our Channel and click the bell alert button to get those.
Extra info (not in the video!)
The researchers will be doing another study soon - examining whether the protein must be meat based rather than plant based to bring about a reduction in hunting. In this study, the researchers used animal based protein. Many cat foods use plant based proteins like pea protein instead of meat protein. They want to explore whether plant based protein has the same effect. We’ll update you as soon as that study concludes.
- Martina Cecchetti, Sarah L. Crowley, Cecily E.D. Goodwin, Robbie A. McDonald. Provision of High Meat Content Food and Object Play Reduce Predation of Wild Animals by Domestic Cats Felis catus. Current Biology, 2021; DOI: 10.1016/j.cub.12.044