If you allow your cats to roam freely outside, it is likely that they will catch mice and birds. You will likely wake up to find the remnants of various rodent and bird parts on your doorstep on many mornings. It is not a pleasant way to begin the day.
The best ways to stop your cat from catching birds and mice is fitting your cat with a bell collar or bird-safe collar. You could install a cat fence so that your feline friend is unable to leave the confines of your garden and frequent areas of abundant wildlife. A more restrictive option is to keep your cat in the patio area of your home. That way your cat can see the world, but will never be able to bring home unwanted ‘gifts.’
In this article, we will explain why it happens and how to stop cats from catching birds and mice.
Why Do Cats Catch Birds and Mice?
Cats are hunters and gatherers. They’re also crafty, so you may notice that they make chirping noises to trick birds. Although they have been domesticated for thousands of years, cats still have a natural instinct to hunt and provide food for their family.
While this is mainly done to feed kittens, cats will often catch birds, mice, and other prey and bring it to their owners as a gift. In the same way, your cat may also bring you stuffed toys as gifts.
While the reason why it happens is not 100% clear, it is primarily believed that cats bring humans prey as food. An owner feeds their cat, so the cat attempts to return the favor by bringing the owner food.
Although this is logically a sign of love and affection, most humans are displeased when it happens. If you let your cat inside without checking their mouth beforehand, or have a cat door fitted, you could be in store for some unpleasant surprises.
How to Stop Your Cats from Catching Birds and Mice
Prevention is usually two-fold. Stop your cat from catching prey and prevent it from bringing it to the back door or into the home.
Let’s explore the most common ways you can accomplish these goals:
1) Keep Your Cat Indoors
While this tactic is the most obvious, it can often be the most impractical and difficult to implement. Are you prepared to stop your cat from their enjoyment of the great outdoors because of this one issue? This may seem a little harsh.
But, if your cat brings prey to your home on a daily basis (perhaps more regularly), then it may be something that is essential. You may find that you have no other choice than to turn an outside cat into a house cat.
2) Bell Collar
Cats are the masters of the sneak attack. In most every capture situation, cats will utilize their natural “quiet stalk” techniques. However, stalking is foiled if a noisy bell clangs during most every move.
Alerting a cat’s prey of impending danger, a bell collar will help to keep mice on the run and birds in the air. Although this will serve as a great annoyance to your cat, the days of your cat catching most types of prey will be over for good.
Bell collars are a simple addition that can that serve a significant function. Although most standard bell collars are only equipped with one bell, you can add more bells if you are concerned that one is not enough.
- Remove your cat’s bell collar once inside for the day. This will allow your cat to relax and feel comfortable. You’ll also be spared the constant clanging noise every time your pet moves anywhere.
3) Bird-Safe Collar
Bright and easily spotted by songbirds, the introduction of a bird collar can prevent your cat from capturing birds. Allowing a bird to fly away at the mere sight of the collar, a bird-safe collar is a bright warning signal.
Shaped like a large tube, bird-safe collars are secure but easy to release under pressure. They contain a breakaway buckle that can allow your cat to get free if the collar somehow becomes snagged on a branch or bush.
Another advantage of this collar is that most brands are reflective. This can give your cat protection at night from passing vehicles. The collar can also make it easier to find your cat if they are hiding using a flashlight.
- Made of cotton fabric, bird-safe collars are comfortable and do not pose the same fur and skin irritation as some standard collars. Your cat should have no issues when grooming, sleeping, eating, and drinking.
4) Install a Cat Fence
Acting as a mesh dome for a large portion of your yard, a cat fence can serve as a covered playground for your pet.
The benefit of a cat fence is that it allows your cat to run around your yard while in a specific coverage area. This will prevent mice, rats, snakes, birds, etc. from penetrating the mesh.
Ranging from 800 square feet to upwards of 4,000 square feet, a cat fence can cover most any type of yard measurement and configuration.
This is a fantastic option if you have several cats who have a daily habit of bringing rodents and live critters onto your property.
5) Eliminate the Cat Flap
If you allow your cat to come and go using a cat flap, it is advised that you no longer allow that routine. While eliminating or locking the cat flap will not stop your cat from catching birds and mice it will prevent your cat from bringing them inside your home.
By letting your cat move in and out of your house without being able to see what is in their mouth is asking for trouble. You are allowing your cat to enter your property unsupervised at any time of the day or night.
Although you can purchase an anti-mouse cat flap, it is probably best to eliminate a flap entirely. If you have dealt with trying to catch a mouse or bird inside of your home, you know all about the damage that can be done to the interior.
Pay attention to what is in your cat’s mouth. Here are some quick tips…
- If your cat returns home under the cover of night, turn off the lights in the room nearest the door. This will allow you to see through the window and enjoy a clear view. Turning on patio, porch or yard lights can also be beneficial while keeping your inside lights off.
- Never blindly open your door to let your cat in, especially once it starts to get dark. If you take this approach without getting a clear view of your cat’s mouth, you could be letting a rodent inside. Just because you see your cat coming to the door, you should never assume that all is well.
What Should You Do if Your Cat Catches a Mouse?
If you notice that your cat has caught a mouse, make sure that every door entrance is kept closed.
Use play tactics to distract and separate your cat from the mouse. If you can distract your cat for long enough, the mouse may have enough time to scamper away.
In most cases, your cat will not kill the mouse as it is seen by them as a live toy. Once your cat has pawed the mouse on the head and chased it around the yard, they will become bored and walk away.
My Cat Ate a Mouse and is Vomiting
Mice can carry bacteria, parasites, toxins, and viruses. If your cat was to eat a mouse, sickness could easily occur. Vomiting is one of the many unpleasant symptoms that can arise from eating mice.
Can a Cat Get Worms from Eating a Mouse?
A cat could pick up worms (roundworm) or other nasty parasites from eating a mouse. Roundworm from an infected mouse will live inside your cat’s intestines, but the larvae of the roundworm can also be found in muscle tissue. If infected, you’ll need a worming treatment.
What If My Cat Ate a Poisoned Mouse?
There is a possibility that your cat has eaten a mouse that has been poisoned (secondary poisoning). The risk facing your cat will depend on how long it has been since the mouse ingested the poison and how much of the mouse the cat ingested.
If you have connected your cat’s vomiting to biting (drawing blood) or eating a mouse, you should consult your veterinarian without delay. Your vet will diagnose the problem and administer the appropriate drugs and antibiotics.
Do Mice Have Rabies?
Mice are not known to be a carrier of rabies. Although transmission is not impossible, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) notes that mice are almost never found to be infected with the disease.
Coyotes, foxes, raccoons, and skunks are the prime carriers of rabies within the United States.
While often overlooked, birds and mice can pose a significant health threat. Bacteria and disease can introduce sickness in your cat and members of your family.
Cats tend to mellow with age. The closer your cat reaches senior status, the less frequently that mouse and bird catching will occur.