Cat Adoption, Cat Behavior, Cat Foods, Cat Questions, Cats

Do Cats Eat Rats or Do Cats Just Kill Rats?


When we talk of cats, the first thing we think of is gentle, comfort animals. An animal who likes nothing other than purring endlessly and enjoy getting strokes and cuddles all the time. Many cat owners attest to the fact that being with their cats are their primary source of stress relief because of these felines’ natural calm disposition.

However, it is also a known fact that cats are also predatory by nature. Wildcats can survive and thrive by hunting prey and feeding on them. With domesticated cats, however, their hunting instincts have become less evident. It is mostly because the availability of food often makes it somewhat unnecessary to hunt prey.

But although the need to hunt for food is much less, cats are still cats, and both possess what we call “feline predatory behavior.”

But what happens when cats do catch rats? Do they have the same behavior patterns when it comes to how they will dispose of their catch? Do they go with their mechanical behavior and kill their prey? Or do cats go as far as eating rats?


Feline Predatory Behavior

Feline predatory behavior refers to the strategies, ways, and preferences of cats when it comes to hunting prey. Maybe, the most popular aspect of the cat’s chasing activities. It is sometimes appalling to some cat owners because cats appear to play with their prey after capture.

Generally, cats often do this to exhaust or weaken them before making the kill. It can be due to an inherent need to make sure that preys are feeble as much as necessary before they are killed so as not to put the cat in danger. This behavior is popularly called “cat and mouse.”

Cats are predatory animals who like to capture or trap their prey using stealth or strategy, rather than by speed or strength. They sit and wait for prey, hiding in a concealed position, before launching a surprise attack.

They prefer hunting smaller victims, such as birds and rodents. In the United States, the bulk of predation is done by about 80 million stray and feral cats.

Most members of the cat family hunt alone at night. It is a learned behavior that is mostly intuitive, and this kind of predatory aggression continue to provide valuable service. Kittens learn the skills of hunting by observing the hunting behavior and strategies of their mother.

They follow suit, and through trial and error, they can learn the art of perfecting the skill. When prey animals such as mice and rodents cross their path, most house cats react instinctively by going after the prey.


Why Do Cats Bring Prey to Their Owners?

Sometimes, cat owners feel upset when their feline baby suddenly presents them with a half-eaten rodent. It is another wrong concept of cat hunting behavior. Paul Leyhausen, who is a famous ethologist, says that cats do this because they adopt humans to their group, and so they share their killings.

In a 1986 book called ” cat watching,” zoologist and anthropologist Desmond Morris suggested that when cats bring home prey, they are teaching their humans to hunt. One other possibility is that they are trying to help their humans, much like feeding a sick or an elderly cat.


Why Do Cats Eat Rats?

Less than a century ago, the domestic cats which we have today, were mostly outdoor animals. Later on, people started keeping cats as pets to eradicate pests, because cats had the reputation of being excellent hunters. If you want to see evidence of this in action, you may want to observe the hunting behavior of an African wild cat. It is the closest cousin of today’s domestic cats.

African wildcats are nocturnal and prefer to hunt at night. They hunt mostly wild animals, including rats. They seldom drink water. Whatever moisture they have in their body, they get most of that from the prey they consume. So you see, getting moisture is just one reason why cats eat rats.

Apart from this, cats also consume prey to get a steady supply of Taurine. It is an essential amino acid which cats don’t produce enough on their own, so they get what they need from the prey that they consume.

Meat is the only kind of food which can supply enough Taurine to satisfy the demands of a cat’s body. For this reason, cats are an obligate carnivore. Domestic cats though are not obliged to consume meat or eat prey, since most commercial food contains enough taurine.

The most significant reason which why cats eat rats, is the need to survive. It especially applies to feral cats. Unlike domestic cats which have easy access to food, feral cats and wild cats need to catch and kill for food.

Also, cats have an inborn hunting instinct. They are born hunters. Even tiny kittens exhibit this behavior by pouncing on their menu.

All cats have the instinct to hunt, even though domestic cats tend to have less of this skill. It is because they have food available every time and less access to rats and other prey. Although they often fail to master this skill and might end up playing with their catch, still, the hunting behavior is there.



These facts all point out to the fact that yes, it’s perfectly reasonable for your feline friend to hunt and catch a rat and then eat it. For many cat lovers, this behavior might seem gross and appalling.

Well, from a cat’s point of view, this is not just normal, but fun! For pet owners, it’s best to remember that this is a natural cat hunting behavior. It’s vital that they get to exercise this natural process, regardless of the type of prey they choose to hunt.

For domestic cats who occasionally go outdoors to hunt, pet owners should make sure that they are properly vaccinated and dewormed. It should be done at least twice every year since most rats have intestinal parasites.

It’s always best to ensure that your cat does not catch it. Otherwise, just let them experience this natural process.

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