People love cats for their independent and slightly wild nature. With their coolness and panther-like walks it’s easy to see their close connections with their bigger and far more dangerous cousins, but often we forget this and see them as one of the family and very much like us. Most cat owners will have come home at some point to find a dead or dying animal in their home, often while the guilty predator stands by purring. Our reactions can be mixed, some will be pleased that a mouse has been eliminated from the home, while others will be upset that a fledgling bird has been killed.
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To paraphrase a common saying, you can take the cat out of the wild but you can’t take the wild out of the cat. A cat simply has a powerful hunting instinct, even though very few of your cat’s recent ancestors will have had to catch their own food to survive. Whether it is hungry or not, any small moving animal is a target for your cat.
We tend to think of cats as solitary animals, but many cats live in groups in the wild. In these groups cats share their food and they may either be succumbing to another subconscious instinct to feed others in their group, or may be consciously going out to get you some food. Mother cats bring dead animals to their offspring first and then animals that are still alive to ingrain the hunting instinct in kittens.
Some animal experts believe that cats are simply using their hunting instinct to show off to you. Leaving a dead animal in the kitchen and then hanging around to watch your reaction enables them to show you how good a hunter they are. The “gift,” as many people choose to think of it, is therefore a lot more about them than it is about you.
Whatever the precise reason behind the dead animals, you cat is likely looking for a positive reaction of some kind. Often they are disappointed, and will be confused at a hostile response from you. Vets say there is little you can do to stop your cat depositing dead animals in your house and some cats are simply more likely to do it than others.
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