Getting a cat can be an effective way to deal with a mouse problem, and the same cats who are great at catching mice can make for great pets, including tabbies. But how effective are they at catching mice? Can they keep your home mouse-free?
Tabby cats are often good mousers. As a breed, they have strong predatory instincts. However, whether or not a cat will be effective at catching mice has to do with whether the cat is interested in mousing and how the cat was raised. Effective mousers are taught to catch mice from an early age.
Read on to learn more about what makes cats good mousers and why tabby cats can sometimes make great mousers.
Best Cat Breeds for Catching Mice
In general, how good a cat is at catching mice has more to do with the individual cat and its background than it has to do with the breed. However, some breeds are more likely than others to produce cats who make good mousers.
Top on the list of good mousing breeds includes the Maine Coons and American Shorthairs. American Shorthairs include tabby cats, which means that tabby cats are more likely than others to be good at catching mice.
Other cat breeds that are good at catching mice include:
- Siberian cats
Why Tabby Cats Are Occasionally Good Mousers
Tabby cats are more likely than other cats to be good mousers because the breed has strong instincts toward hunting. They have traditionally been used as a primary method to keep rodents away from food sources.
However, each cat only develops mousing skills, beyond their underlying instincts, if they are taught by an older cat, like a mother.
Check out the following YouTube video for more information on the best cat breeds for catching mice:
What Makes a Cat a Good Mouser?
Cats that are taught to kill and eat mice by their mothers from an early age make for the best mousers. However, it’s essential to keep in mind that some cats are more likely than others to develop hunting behaviors.
That said, all cats do have some instincts for chasing and catching prey. You can check out the following YouTube video for more information on how cats teach their kittens how to hunt:
How To Tell if a Cat Will Be a Good Mouser
Two of the most important things to do when determining whether a cat will be a good mouser are to ask about the cat’s history and watch the cat’s behavior. Cats raised outdoors during their early lives and cats who physically play with other cats are more likely to be good mousers.
Age is also a factor in determining whether a cat will be a good mouser.
Older cats tend to slow down and expend less energy with age, so finding a cat that’s an adult but not too old is your best bet for finding a good mouser.
Where To Find a Cat That’s Good at Catching Mice
Animal shelters are always a good place to check for adoptable cats, especially if they can clue you in as to the history of each cat.
If you live in a rural area, you may also have the option of adopting from a barn cat’s litter. In such cases, you’re very likely to receive a good mouser, as long as the kitten is not separated from its mother too early.
If a kitten is separated from its mother at a very young age, it’s less likely that it will have had the time to develop strong hunting skills.
Thankfully, most animal adoption agencies have limits on how young they’ll allow kittens to be adopted without their mothers. It’s rare to find a place that will give away kittens younger than 8 or 12 weeks old without also adopting out the mother to the same home.
Can You Teach Your Cat To Catch Mice?
You can teach your cat to catch mice. Some cats simply have more hunting instincts than others, but all cats can develop hunting skills given the right environment. With the right environment for learning hunting skills, you can also play a role in teaching your cat to catch mice.
It won’t be as effective as a mother cat’s lessons, but you can encourage speed and agility in your cat by playing with it with toys and rewarding it when it chases and catches things. If your cat does bring a mouse back, be sure to act excited and reward your cat for the behavior, rather than being put off and punishing the cat.
The younger a cat is, the easier it will learn and the more energy it will have for hunting.
Using Older Cats As Mousing Mentors
One effective way to teach cats to catch mice is to introduce a mousing mentor, an older cat with mousing skills who can teach younger cats how it’s done. Usually, the mother takes this role, but other cats can teach each other hunting skills, too.
In general, female cats make better teachers.
Best Toys for Teaching Cats Hunting Instincts
The best toys for cats to learn hunting instincts are those that mimic real prey as accurately as possible. These include the following, which are all found on Amazon.com:
- Cat feather wands, like the Hartz Just for Cats, Play Wand. This toy moves like prey if you twitch the wand along the ground. It’s best to drag the feathered end along the ground with small twitches, then suddenly pull it away to simulate a leap or a dash.
- Food-dispensing toys like the PetSafe SlimCat Interactive Cat Feeder. These toys teach your cat that food is a reward for hunting behavior.
- Mouse toys that squeak or make noise, like the SmartyKat Skitter Critters Mice Toys. These toys give cats the satisfying feel and sound of a kill.
Caring for a Mousing Cat
Cats who catch and eat mice regularly have different health needs than cats who do not. Eating rodents introduces the risk that your cat will ingest parasites or disease-causing pathogens, so you’ll need to make sure that your cat’s vaccinations are up to date.
You should also ensure that your cat won’t be exposed to rodents who have eaten rat poison, which can easily spread from prey to predator. Physical rodent traps can also pose a danger for curious cats.
If you’re planning to keep your mouser in a barn, make sure that you wait until it’s at least as big as a small rabbit before you allow it to be outside on its own. Otherwise, the kitten may be attacked and hurt by coyotes, owls, or hawks.
Remember that even outdoor cats need shelter, food, and water, as there may be times when prey is scarce, and you need to make sure that the cat trusts you enough to stay on the property.
Underfeeding a cat to encourage hunting is unlikely to be effective.
Experts recommend that outdoor cats be kept in a cage for a time when they’re first introduced to a new barn, with access to food, water, and a litter box. Then, let them out for the first time when the ground is dry. This will allow them to leave a scented trail that they can follow back home.
Tabby cats are often good mousers, but a cat’s skill at catching mice has more to do with its upbringing than its breed. The best mousers are cats who were brought up outdoors with their mother close by. Mother cats teach their young crucial skills in hunting, catching, and eating prey when they’re given the opportunity.
- Pet Helpful: How to Choose a Cat Who Will Kill Mice
- Purina: American Shorthair Cat Breed Profile
- Pest Kill: The Best Cats for Catching Mice: How to Choose The Right One
- The Nest: How Old Should a Kitten Be Before it Is Adopted?
- Tractor Supply: Use Mouser Cats to Get Rid of Mice and Rats
- Mom.com: How to Train a Cat to Kill Mice
- Pointe Pest Control: Can I Train my Cat to Catch Mice?
- PetMD: These Are the Best Cat Toys to Simulate Hunting Prey
Pam is a self-confessed cat lover and has experience of working with cats and owning cats for as long as she can remember. This website is where she gets to share her knowledge and interact with other cat lovers.