They may be slightly less offensive than rats, but mice are still unwelcome in the home. An infestation of mice can be unhygienic and destructive. This is why many people look to adopt cats to control their rodent population.
Mice have enough self-preservation instincts to avoid your cat. This means they’ll stay out of open, communal areas. They could still congregate in basements, attics, crawlspaces and other areas inaccessible to your cat, though.
Bringing a cat into your family can be an excellent mouse deterrent. There are many things that you will need to know. This guide will discuss the logistics of using a cat to keep mice away.
Can Mice Sense a Cat in the House?
Mice will only build nests somewhere they feel safe and secure. Bringing a cat into your home can prevent this from happening, as mice can sense cats.
This sense stems from the vomeronasal organ inside a mouse. In many respects, it’s an enhanced sense of smell. A mouse will pick up a predator scent, and instinct will take over.
This smell often comes from cat urine. However, the vomeronasal organ can also detect pheromones from hunting animals. This means that a sleeping cat will not necessarily register as a threat to a mouse. If your feline predator is housebroken, they need to stay sharp to appear on rodent radar.
Will Mice Stay Away if You Have Cats?
If a mouse senses a cat, instinct tells them to flee. Mice are seeking places to procreate and build a nest, so this fear benefits you. Without a cat to deter them, mice may make your house their home.
Unfortunately, it’s not quite as simple as getting a cat and relaxing. The presence of a predator will keep mice out of communal areas that your cat patrols.
That means that your kitchen cupboards, living rooms, and bedrooms should be safe. Cats cannot be everywhere though, and mice know this. Rodents are smarter than we give them credit for.
Mice may work out areas of the house that your cat cannot reach, and stay there. This could be in a crawlspace, or maybe an attic. As long as they are warm and protected from predators, mice will make a home. The presence of a cat in other areas may not be enough to drive them away.
Also, we have to remember just how quickly mice reproduce. Rodents birth litters of 30-60, and these young can reproduce themselves after just six weeks. Your cat may have their work cut out for them to deal with all of those invaders.
The scent of a cat can be an aphrodisiac for male mice. It’s a Darwinian instinct. The mouse will fear for its life, and feel it should quickly make more babies.
Is Borrowing a Cat to Get Rid of Mice a Good Idea?
You may consider borrowing a cat from a friend to deal with a mouse infestation. This could work, but there are many stumbling blocks:
- It may take the cat a while to get the lay of the land. Given how quickly mice reproduce, time can be of the essence when dealing with an infestation.
- Do you know where the mice are living? If they are camped in an area the cat can’t access, it will make no difference.
- Is the cat in question a natural hunter? Some cats are more predatory than others.
- If the cat is a hunter, will it upset the natural ecosystem of your home? Do you have other pets, or wild birds that like to visit your backyard?
- How will the cat feel about being temporarily rehomed? If they grow stressed, they are unlikely to hunt. Do you know their routines regarding feeding and playtimes?
- Is your home cat-friendly? Do you live near the main road? Is the feline prone to wandering? You don’t want anything terrible to happen to the cat, especially when it’s under your care. That would be a very awkward, and potentially friendship-ending, conversation.
- Eventually, you’ll have to return the cat. This could mean that the mice will quickly emerge from their hiding places and return.
Borrowing somebody else’s cat is never more than a temporary solution. It’s like using a Band-Aid when you need stitches from the hospital. If you have an immediate and urgent situation that needs addressing, then it’s worth considering.
You will need also to think longer term, however, and plan for life after the cat has returned home. Borrowing somebody else’s cat is never a sustainable solution for a rodent infestation.
Will My Cat Tell Me if I Have Mice?
Cats are territorial, so they will never take kindly to an intruder. This means that they will often inform you of the presence of mice, whether you realize it or not.
As Petful explains, your cat has a fantastic sense of smell. This means they’ll be able to pick up scents of mice in the walls. How about sound, though – can a cat hear a mouse? A cat hissing at a wall with their hackles up is warning of unwelcome houseguests.
A cat that seems to be on constant alert is also a sign that you have rodents. If your cat won’t relax, it’s because they are waiting for a mouse to appear.
Take the time to learn the difference between your cat’s different meows, too. Every communication is unique. “I’m hungry!” will sound subtly different to, “can you hear that scratching sound in the basement?”
Mice are Hiding from My Cat
When mice learn of a cat’s presence, they may hide. Hiding is not the same as fleeing, though. Mice won’t pack up and leave your property, but stay out of the cat’s way.
If you are looking to entice mice so your cat can catch them, consider these techniques.
- Mice are food-focused, so leave this around. The problem you will have is convincing your cat not to eat the bait. Cheese is a feline favorite, and while mice are tempted by chocolate, it’s lethal to cats. Try sweet fresh fruit instead. Cats are indifferent to sweet food as they can’t taste it. Mice, however, will be drawn out by the smell.
- Apply smells that deter mice to areas that you know they are living in. Mice hate the scent of garlic, onion, alcohol, and peppermint. They are also instinctively afraid of the smell of ammonia. This is due to the presence of ammonia in cat urine. If you spray any of these smells in a mouse nest, they’ll move somewhere else.
Naturally, neither of these plans are foolproof. Rodents can be smart, and they may wait for your cat to leave before claiming their prize. They can also sense your cat. This will encourage them to keep their distance. If your cat is patient and attentive, however, they will usually win the battle of wits.
How Do Cats Catch Mice?
The term “cat and mouse” to describe a hunter stalking prey is borne of accuracy. Watching a feline hunt and catch a mouse is a marvel to behold.
Typically, cats use their potent senses of hearing and smell to detect mice. When they are confident that they have the lay of the land, the cat will lie flat. While lying on their belly, the cat will remain deathly silent. They will then crawl, ever so slowly, toward the mouse. The cat is waiting for the chance to pounce.
This is a real balancing act. The cat knows that the mouse will sense them sooner or later, and make a run for it. If the cat pounces too soon, they may miss the mouse.
This will spook them, and they’ll get away. Likewise, however, if the cat waits too long, the mouse will know they’re coming and get away. When the cat manages to time their pounce to perfection, however, a kill quickly follows.
How Do Cats Kill Mice?
Cats often kill their prey with their mouths. It doesn’t mean they will eat them. They use their jaws to break the neck of the prey. Alternatively, cats may nip the base of the rodent’s spine with their teeth. This will paralyze the prey, and leave it at the cat’s mercy.
Another favorite technique for cats is to play with their prey. This involves batting the mouse around with their paws.
Think about the proportionate strength of a cat compared to that of a mouse. This will cause all kinds of broken bones and internal bleeding.
It looks like your cat is needlessly torturing a smaller animal, but its all part of predatory instinct. Hunters feel obliged to enjoy their trophy, and play with their kill.
Sometimes, biology cuts mice a break, though. These small animals have weak hearts. This means that they often die of shock when a cat first catches them. This is a quick and painless way to go for the mouse. It’s certainly more appealing than the alternative.
Do Cats Eat the Mice That They Catch?
You may consider a cat eating a mouse to be the best outcome. Your cat is getting an extra protein fix, and there is no mess to clean up. What’s not to love?
What we need to remember is that rodents carry all kinds of disease. If your cat eats a mouse, they are opening themselves up to all kinds of infection risks.
There is also a big risk that the rodent ate rat poison. This could expose your cat to secondary poisoning. Toxoplasmosis and other parasitic infections are also big concerns.
The good news is that it’s rare for cats to eat their kill. Feline instinct is to hunt and chase, but not necessary devour. This is why your cat tends to present you with dead mice and birds.
In your cat’s mind, they are returning a trophy as a token of their affection. Try not to let on to your pet that you find the whole thing gross. You’ll hurt their feelings.
What To Do When Your Cat Catches a Mouse
When a cat catches a mouse, that’s only half the story. You will then need to know what to do with the corpse.
Praise your cat, and wait for them to turn their back. Put on some gloves and wrap the catch in something to mask the potentially upsetting visual. Then toss it straight into the garbage.
Don’t leave it in the house trashcan; it will smell pretty foul. Also, don’t bury it as your cat will dig it up. Cats bury food to avoid detection from predators. Place it in a bin with a very secure lid, and your cat will soon forget all about it.
Of course, an indoor cat presenting you with a mouse suggests that you have a problem. If you are extremely lucky, it is a one-off, and a mouse accidentally wandered onto your property.
What is more likely, however, is that you have an infestation. Watch your cat’s behavior carefully in the following days. They may be hunting more rodent infiltrators.
What are the Best Cats for Catching Mice?
Some breeds are more attuned to hunting than others, as we will discuss in just a moment. In the meantime, however, there are certain characteristics to define an excellent feline hunter:
- Attentiveness. If you are considering a cat primarily as a mouser, they will need to be alert. While visiting a cat at a shelter, check how easy it is to get their attention. Even if the cat seems aloof, they may react to sudden movements. If the ears are up and the eyes follow the movement, you are looking at a hunter.
- Hunting Behaviors, Instincts are one thing – acting upon them is quite another. If you expect your cat to catch mice, you will need to ensure they enjoy doing so. Buy a toy mouse on a string, a laser pointer or use string. If your cat gleefully chases these targets you can be assured that they will hunt.
- Backstory. Take the time to learn about your cat, and how they ended up in a shelter. Some cats lived a cozy life in the suburbs, never having a care in the world. These felines will be great companions, but potentially not very impressive hunters. A working cat that grew up in the country, however, may have experience of hunting rodents. The same goes for a formerly stray cat, which could have been forced to hunt to eat.
It’s not just nature, though. Nature also plays a part in whether a cat is a natural-born hunter. Common consensus has it that the following breeds make the best mousers:
- American Shorthair. These cats have long histories as mousers. Legend has it they were even aboard the Mayflower.
- Japanese Bobtail. Don’t be fooled by the name as these cats hail from Korea. However, they have been bred as mouse hunters. This makes them excellent predators.
- Burmese. This breed of cat is arguably the most food-driven of them all. They will relish the chance to hunt and eat mice in exchange for shelter and affection.
- Maine Coon. These large cats have been hunting rodents for longer than anybody can remember.
- Persian. Persian cats may look elegant and – we’ll say it – lazy. Despite this, they can leap into action when the mood strikes. Female Persians, in particular, are adept mouse hunters.
- Siamese. A purebred Siamese cat will always relish a good rodent hunt.
There is not necessarily a hard and fast rule about whether a cat will hunt and catch mice. Remember that all cats are individuals.
Expecting any of the above breeds to hunt ‘just because they’re cats’ may end in disappointment. You are, however, more likely to find a mouser among these breeds. Conduct some of the tests that we profiled, and bring a new mouse hunter into your home.
My Cat Will Not Hunt Mice
Some cats are not interested in hunting mice and no amount of coercion will change that. There are many possible explanations:
- Your cat never learned how. If a mother does not teach her kittens how to hunt, some young cats never learn. Sure cats have instincts, but they still need to know what to do with them.
- Your cat is anxious. Hunting mice can be great therapy for a nervous cat – until the rodent fights back. It’s possible that your cat was bitten on their first hunt, and remains nervous of mice. Have you ever heard the phrase, “fighting like a cornered rat?” If your cat refused to hunt rodents, they might have actually lived it.
- Your cat’s instincts have dulled. Even the most predatory felines lose their thrill of the hunt when they become indoor cats. If the cat you have adopted rarely left the sofa, they may have lost their desire.
- It’s just not their nature. Some cats are bloodthirsty, belying their cute appearance to bring home trophy kills constantly. Other felines are big softies, and don’t want to hurt any other living creature. If this applies to your cat, don’t try to change them. It won’t work, and you’ll just both end up being upset.
It can be frustrating to have a cat that won’t hunt mice, but it does happen. Enjoy your cat’s company as a loving pet, as opposed to pest control, in such instances. They cannot change their nature any more than the mice that are causing you such consternation.
Is it Safe to Have Mouse Traps with Cats in the House?
If you have a cat, or any other pet, mousetraps must be considered carefully. Dengarden recommends an electronic trap, which is largely cat-safe. This is not a humane trap and will kill the mouse, though. If you want to scare the mice away rather than kill them, this is not the solution.
You could always work with your cat. Have your feline tempt the mouse and corner them, before applying a humane trap. You can even place a saucepan over the mouse and release them into the wild. This could end up being a lot of work if you have a complete infestation, though.
If you do have a cat, you’ll need to avoid using rat poison. While this will kill rodents, it will also make your cat extremely sick, potentially fatally. Snapping and glue-based mousetraps should also be avoided. Cats can easily get themselves trapped by these, especially if the bait contained within intrigues them. If you are in any doubt, call in the help of a professional exterminator.
Cats and mice will always be natural enemies, so a feline family member should deter rodents. You will not be able to rely on your cat to do all the work, though. You’ll need to check that infestation has been cleared from every part of your home. Cats can’t be everywhere. You’ll also need to make sure that every mouse has cleared out. It only takes two to procreate, and it all starts again.
If your cat enjoys hunting mice, it can be beneficial for all concerned. Having a cat in the house can keep mice away.