Since longer than anybody can recall, cats and mice have been natural enemies. Cats that catch rodents are called mousers, and are vital to many homes and trades. Some breeds of cat are more inclined to hunt mice than others, though.
American Shorthairs, Siamese, Maine Coons, Chartreux, and Burmese are all renowned mousers. However, the cat’s age, temperament, and background need to be considered. Every cat is unique based on their personality and experience.
If you want a cat to deal with mice, you should know the animal’s limits. Unfortunately, mice are smarter than we give them credit for. Cats are clever creatures, and natural born hunters, but no feline has a magic wand. This guide explains what to expect from mousers, and which breeds are best for the job.
- 1 What are the Best Cats at Catching Mice?
- 1.1 What Personality Traits Should I Look for in a Mouser?
- 1.2 Where Would I Find a Good Mouser?
- 1.3 Will a Cat Get Rid of Mice in My House?
- 1.4 How Do Cats Keep Mice Away?
- 1.5 Are Cats Good for Mice Control?
- 1.6 How Do Cats Catch Mice?
- 1.7 Will Multiple Cats Capture More Mice?
- 1.8 Will Cats Eat Mice That Have Been Poisoned?
- 1.9 Is it Dangerous to Let My Cat Hunt Mice?
- 1.10 Feral Cats are Great Mousers, Should I Adopt One?
- 1.11 Will Spaying or Neutering My Cat Affect Its Hunting?
- 1.12 Other Related Articles:
What are the Best Cats at Catching Mice?
Some breeds of cat are more natural mousers than others. This does not mean you can unleash one of these breeds and put your feet up. Nature and nurture play just as prominent a role in a cat’s personality as their genes.
However, picking a hunting breed can sometimes go a long way to helping you out.
These breeds are considered to be natural mousers:
- American Shorthair. The American Shorthair has a history with the country that almost dates back to its birth. These cats have been used as mousers for centuries, first working on boats and ships. Younger shorthairs can have wanderlust, but they will keep a wild rodent population under control. Slightly older shorthairs will make a great indoor cat. They will keep you company, and drive away any mice that dare enter your property. You will not struggle to find an American Shorthair, as they are among the most popular pets in the nation.
- Chartreux. These felines are native to France. They are beautiful to look at, and very striking in physique. Their broad shoulders and substantial muscle mass makes them a rodent’s nightmare. Don’t be fooled by their playful, laid-back demeanor. Chartreux cats love their owners, but they hate mice. The main obstacle with this breed is their rarity in the U.S.
- Maine Coon. This breed is hugely popular throughout the country for a reason. Maine Coons are incredibly loyal, easily trainable, and very hunt-focused. They’re dogs in cat’s clothing. Bringing a Maine Coon into your home will likely make mice a thing of the past. Just be aware that these cats are pretty bulky and heavy. This means that they’re a little more expensive to feed and maintain.
- Burmese. These cats are great companions, as they actively enjoy human company. What’s more, they are extremely food-focused. This means that they will always hunt a potential snack – such as a mouse. The fact that Burmese eat their prey also means less mess for you to clean up. Just be aware that eating mice is not always a healthy choice. You’ll have to watch the weight of your Burmese, and take them for regular vet check-ups.
- Siamese. These cats may look like the picture of laid-back elegance, but they are established hunters. Mice will not stand a chance if you have a Siamese – or, better yet, two. Unlike most cats, this breed does not like to be left alone. This means that you should get them a feline companion, or stay home with them. This is something that needs to be taken into consideration if you adopt a Siamese. They are excellent mousers, but a big commitment.
If you bring a cat to your home, your mouse population may quickly decline. Don’t be angry, or punish the cat, if this is not the case though.
What Personality Traits Should I Look for in a Mouser?
As we have established, just picking a breed that is known as a mouser in not enough. You will need to study the cat itself, and confirm they are up to the job.
PetHelpful lists some of the traits that you should look for in a potential mouser. These include:
- Age. Older cats are not as mobile as they once were. This means that they may not be inclined to chase a swift and limber mouse.
- Attentiveness. A good mouser will always be on high alert. This means that will have bright, wide eyes and ears pointed upward. If the cat ignores any stimulation around them, they are unlikely to react to mice.
- Energy Level. Interact with the cat, and see how they react. If they lie still and ask to be petted, they are likely sedentary by nature. This is not a trait that makes for an effective mouser.
- Play Style. Throw some toys around and play with the cat. Watch how they interact. If the cat slowly stalks the toy and pounces, they will be a natural hunter. If they ignore it, or are very gentle, they probably lack killer instinct.
- Background. Talk to a shelter about where the cat came from. If they spent years as an indoor cat providing companionship, their hunting instincts would have dulled. Ideally, you are looking for a working cat from a rural background, such as a farm.
- Parentage. Kittens learn how to hunt from their mothers. If their mother rejected the cat in question, they might never have been taught this skill. Find out about the cat’s family tree, if at all possible.
Just about any breed of cat is capable of being a killing machine. Equally, some felines have no interest in the act. Don’t blindly adopt a cat based on their breed and hope for the best. Spend time with them, and ensure that you are a good fit for each other.
Where Would I Find a Good Mouser?
We have mentioned cat shelters many times already. These are always ideal places to begin your search. The staff at such as establishment will have a good knowledge of every cat in residence. This will help them pair you up with the perfect feline.
You could also approach farms and ranches though, and enquire whether their cats have kittens. This will likely provide you with a cat that has been taught how to hunt. The problem with kittens is their playful nature and unrefined instincts. You may need to be patient, and not expect instant results.
Will a Cat Get Rid of Mice in My House?
Bringing a cat into a home with an established problem will not make a huge difference. If you want to get rid of one or two mice, however, a cat will help. Likewise, a cat will capture any solitary mice that may make their way into your home.
Another problem is that mice do not always dwell where a cat can reach them. Mice are smart. If they learn that hiding in walls and crawlspaces keeps them safe, that’s where they’ll stay.
They may venture out to seek food every now and again, and a cat will attack. Mice breed faster than cats can kill them off, though. If you have a serious problem, you need to eradicate the source first. A cat will then help prevent mice from returning.
This is partly because a cat will often deter mice. If you have had one curious visitor, the presence of a cat will send them packing.
How Do Cats Keep Mice Away?
Like all prey animals, mice have a healthy survival drive. They fully understand that bigger animals, including cats, spell trouble for them. This means that mice instinctively fear cats, and hide.
What it doesn’t mean is that mice will entirely leave your home. If they have built a nest and feel comfortable, rodents could stay put. They will avoid areas that they know the cat patrols.
This may be through trial and error. A few mice might learn the hard way where cats can reach them. Alternatively, their nose may guide a mouse. If they smell the presence of a cat, they will stay away.
Are Cats Good for Mice Control?
Cats can be both good and bad for controlling mice populations. There is only so much they can with an existing problem. They will only be able to deal with one mouse at a time. If you have sporadic visits, however, cats will chase them off at worst.
Unfortunately, one of the biggest deterrents to mice is also an aphrodisiac. Namely, cat urine. Ammonia is a scent that mice cannot stand, and it’s prominent in cat pee. That means that, if a mouse smells a cat’s urine, they will likely move on quickly.
However, this scent also activates mating instincts in male mice. Think of it as a survival reflex. The male mouse will fear a predator, and seek to impregnate a female to ensure the survival of the species. It’s a matter of numbers, as mice birth litters of up to 30 at a time.
In summary, a cat that loves to hunt will control the mouse population in your property. Part of this will be due to the mice that they kill, and partly simple deterrence. Make no mistake – mice are terrified of cats. Just don’t be surprised if you find that the population of mice falls then rises. In these instances, call an exterminator and let your cat work from a blank slate.
How Do Cats Catch Mice?
A cat hunting a mouse is very rarely a straight-up brawl. The cat will very carefully stalk the mouse and attack from behind.
Cats usually detect mice by scent and sound. Cats have considerably more sensitive noses and ears than humans. Felines often switch from purring in your lap to a state of high alert. If their eyes widen, nose twitches and ears shoot up, they have probably detected a mouse.
Your cat will drop to its belly and quietly hunt. They will, in short, silent movements, staying close to the ground. If the mouse doesn’t sense the cat and flee, the cat will keep getting nearer. Eventually, when the mouse is within pouncing range, the cat will leap upon them.
From here, the sight is not suitable for anybody squeamish. The cat will usually break the mouse’s neck by biting it. Alternatively, they may bat the mouse around with their paws. This will cause the mouse internal damage, or they will have a heart attack. The cat will then play with their trophy by tossing it around. If your cat has caught a mouse, keep one eye on your pet.
Will Multiple Cats Capture More Mice?
In theory, the more cats that you keep in your home, the more mice they’ll capture. For this to work though, ensure that all the cats in question are accomplished mousers.
Domestic felines sometimes take their cues from each other. Pairing a docile cat with a mouser may turn the former a hunter. Alternatively, it may dull the predatory instincts of the mouser.
There is also a possibility of the cats competing over the same mouse. When a cat traps and kills a mouse, it’s a trophy. One cat may not take kindly to a rival attempting to steal their glory. If you are going to use multiple mousers, try to ensure that they get along.
Will Cats Eat Mice That Have Been Poisoned?
One thing that a cat owner will need to be cautious of is rodent poison. Cats are not discerning, and could experience secondary poisoning. If you have a cat in your home, you should certainly never lay down mouse poison.
Thankfully, a cat eating a poisoned mouse is comparatively unlikely for two reasons:
If a mouse has been poisoned, it will probably already be dead. Cats rarely hunt dead animals. Put simply, there is no sport in it for them. If your cat spots a dead mouse, it may investigate. It will probably poke and prod it for a while. When the mouse does not respond, however, the cat will usually lose interest. There is no fun in tackling prey that doesn’t run away.
Cats also rarely eat mice. This is not a universal rule, of course. Some cats are led by their stomachs, and will anything. A housecat, however, is usually well fed. They will also often lack the stomach for live prey. Their taste buds will have adapted to tinned food.
It’s the hunt that excites a cat, not the prospect of a snack. Once they have killed and played with a mouse, cats usually present it to their owners. Your cat intends this as a present, so don’t let on if you are disgusted! You’ll inadvertently hurt your pet’s feelings.
Is it Dangerous to Let My Cat Hunt Mice?
If your cat does like to capture mice, keep an eye on their general health and demeanor. As Vet Street explains, poison is not the only potential danger. Mice also tend to carry disease and parasites.
If a mouse has intestinal worms, for example, your cat will eat them by proxy. Many mice also carry fleas. Ensure that your mouser is always up to date with their preventative treatments.
You’ll also have to ensure that your cat only picks fights that it can win. It’s rare, but a mouse may fight back. Cats usually paralyze a mouse as their first action to prevent this from happening.
Although they are much smaller, a mouse can damage a cat by biting and clawing. If your feline looks like they have been through war, they may need a veterinary once-over.
Feral Cats are Great Mousers, Should I Adopt One?
You may well notice feral cats patrolling. These felines are indeed excellent mousers. As they are not domesticated, they rely on catching wild prey for sustenance.
Feral cats cannot be adopted, however. A feral cat will have been born wild, and thus never socialized. This means that they lack the basic skills required to be a pet. Unless they are young kittens, they will be too old to teach. They could also be carrying any number of diseases.
Feral cats can be very useful for catching mice outside your home, but leave them there. Attempting to domesticate such an animal is potentially very dangerous.
Will Spaying or Neutering My Cat Affect Its Hunting?
No, this will not make any difference. If anything, it will stop them being distracted. You also won’t need to worry about switching a mouse infestation for a litter of kittens.
If you want to bring a cat into your home, do so as a pet. While catching and deterring mice is a bonus, cats have much more to offer. You will also need to accept that there will be limits to what a cat can do. If you have a real problem with mice, a professional exterminator will be required.
Overall, though, cats will aid with a mouse problem. They are safer deterrents than mousetraps. What begins as a working animal will quickly become a pet and part of your family. That’s a great way of dealing with a pest control problem.