Why do cats play with mice before eating them?

A very frequent behavior in cats is to hunt a mouse or some small animal and then spend a long time without killing it. Although at first glance it could pass for a somewhat gruesome and perhaps even cruel behavior, the reality is that cats play with mice as a way to exercise and develop their hunting skills.

Domestic cats still have within their nature a highly developed hunting instinct. That is, despite being pets and having access to their food on a regular basis, they will continue to practice hunting techniques throughout their lives.

Another aspect to take into consideration is that cats and mice are species that have been competing with each other for a long time. In fact, mice have been one of the main prey of cats for millennia.

They play with mice to exercise.

Cats tend to have very vivid feline instincts. Even if they don’t need to hunt for food at all, it is in their nature to know how to hunt, and of course, they will spend their lives exercising.

However, a distinction must be made between hunting and eating what they hunt. Domestic cats are usually well fed and do not really need to hunt to ensure their survival. That is why you will often see your cat frolicking with its prey and may not even eat it.

Why mice are not eaten

The reasons why cats play with mice after catching them and then do not eat them can be varied. For example:

  • Practice your hunting techniques. A cat hunting a mouse is perfecting its hunting techniques. These include stalking, chasing, trapping and striking. This will keep your skills in top form and keep you active.
  • Satisfying the hunting instinct. Chasing and hunting a mouse or other similar prey may be enough to satisfy your michi’s hunting instinct. He may not have the desire to eat his prey, but may find the act of hunting itself rewarding.
  • He considers it a toy. Domestic cats usually have their dietary needs fully met. This includes access to quality food at regular intervals. That’s why in many occasions, your kitty doesn’t consider its prey as a food source but as an object to exercise. In other words, just another toy.
  • Natural selection. Cats have been domestic animals for millennia and have accompanied humans. This has resulted in a variety of changes in hunting-related behaviors. That is probably why modern cats are no longer so interested in feeding with their prey and prefer, at most, to play with them for a while.

In any case, it is important to take into account that this is not a behavior that denotes some kind of cruelty in your kitten. It is simply in their nature.

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