Cats and Wildlife in the Backyard
Nature vs Nurture
When it comes to wildlife in the backyard, is your cat as ruthless as a raging lion or timid as a mouse? We might want to believe that our cats wouldn’t hurt a fly, but cats are natural predators whether we like it or not, as descendants of their larger feline members of the family. However, do all cats need or want to kill, and can you stop them from hunting? Sadly, the answer is no, despite spoiling them rotten or pampering their every need, given the opportunity to go out and hunt, most cats will take it, purely because they have the animalistic instinct.
Hunter or Hunted?
We’ve established that even the most cuddly and affectionate cat can become a vicious killer, but they are not always the predator.
As nice as it is to allow your cat to roam freely in the great outdoors, it is not always the safest. Cats are solitary creatures and will hunt alone and are therefore more prone to attacks from larger predators such as dogs, foxes, mink, raccoons (depending on the country you are in), as well as getting into fights with other cats and more human threats like cars, poisoning or thieves.
As a predator our cats can impose a huge threat to our wildlife and nature’s neighbors, they kill wild animals, such as birds, reptiles, and small mammals. While they don’t always bring the kill home, there is every chance they are consumed or just left.
Can you stop cats from hunting?
The way you feed your cat will certainly have a difference in the way they might hunt, but hunting is not just motivated by hunger. Cats are opportunistic hunters and know that if they were to hunt only when they are hungry, they could risk starvation, purely because capturing prey isn’t always successful and isn’t always available. Cats have evolved to change their daily patterns depending on the food that is available to them.
The average well-fed pet cat partakes in approximately 3 hours of hunting each day, whereas a cat that is fed less will hunt more. Cats will feel the need to hunt whether they are hungry or not. If you’re worried about wildlife and don’t want your cat to hunt, there are a few changes to your cats’ life that could help! We have put together a few ideas below.
Our pussycats should be fed at regular intervals throughout the day to mimic their natural feeding patterns, and they also benefit from a meal rich in meat content.
Cats need variety
Cats are neophiliac, which means they absolutely love variety – especially when it comes to food! Regularly providing different foods may curb their hunting behavior as they don’t need to look elsewhere for new tasty treats.
More time to play
Similar to their food patterns, the way cats play can affect how they behave in the wild. Regularly play with your cat and offer them cat toys that resemble prey. We have all seen the way cats crouch down ready to pounce on a scrunched-up ball of newspaper. Entertain their curious minds and hunter instinct rather than try and diminish it, and it’s possible that your cat will have had enough of chasing after things when they go outside.
When not to hunt
Try to avoid dawn and dusk, prime hunting times. However, remember that changing a cat’s routine needs to be done slowly to ensure it’s not having a negative impact on the cat.
Sound the Alarm!
Adding a bell to the collar is certainly one way to alert prey that danger is coming, however, cats are incredibly intelligent. So, while it may seem to work to start with (and give you peace of mind), a cat will usually find a way to master this new skill of getting close without making a noise.
To really avoid the hunting impact that your cat has on the local wildlife or protect them from predators and human dangers introduce an Omlet Catio so that cats can play safely in the fresh air! The Catio can be extended and adapted in many ways to suit your cat! If you don’t have backyard space then we have another alternative for you, the Catio Balcony Enclosure. Now, cats get all the stimulation they need while both them and the wildlife in your backyard are safe.
How to exercise the inner hunter in a house cat
If your cat doesn’t go out and is purely an indoor cat, don’t worry, you are not depriving them of their ancestral hunting heritage. Hunting doesn’t necessarily mean killing prey, which is why it can be adapted to play.
If you regularly play with your cat and provide them with enough toys and accessories, this can certainly provide them with enough stimulation to emulate a hunt. You may have seen the way your cat crouches as though ready to pounce on a fly or a plant leaf (think Christmas tree decorations!). It is important to allow this form of play.
This entry was posted in Cats