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Cat Bringing ‘Gifts’? Tricks to Save Mice or Birds Your Cat Brings You

May 19 2023.

If your cat spends time outdoors, or your is going outside for the first time, you may be worried about them bringing you ‘gifts’. Felines are natural hunters, and it’s normal for a cat to bring mice or birds to their paw parents. Not sure what to do when your cat brings home mice or birds? Below, Cat in a Flat dives into your feline’s hunting instincts, and what you can do when your cat ‘gifts’ you mice or birds. 

Why your cat brings you mice or birds 

Your fur friend may look cute and cuddly most of the time, but cats are actually tiny predators. This isn’t surprising considering that the domesticated feline is a distant cousin to the mighty African big cats! 

When your cat brings you mice or birds, they are using their natural survival instincts to hunt. Since our fur friends never became completely domesticated, they still feel the need to hunt for food in order to survive. With spaying and neutering cats becoming more and more common, another theory is that kitties are trying to pass their hunting knowledge onto their humans because they aren’t producing offspring to share it with. 

How to stop my cat from bringing me gifts

As much as possible, you want to prevent your cat from bringing mice and birds home. As avid hunters, felines can have an extremely negative effect on wildlife. In some cases, they’ve even contributed to the extinction of native species. Of course, it’s not your kitty’s fault, they’re simply doing what they’re programmed to do! The behavior is so ingrained, that you can’t train it out of them. However, there are a few steps you can take to protect the wildlife in your area and stop your cat from bringing home mice and birds. 

  • Put a bell on their collar. If your cat is okay with wearing a collar, attach a small bell to it. The bell will warn wildlife of your feline’s approach. This gives mice and birds a chance to scurry or fly to safety. Always use a quick-release collar so if it gets stuck to something the collar will come off. 
  • Find good places for bird feeders. A bird feeder can be a great addition to your garden and Mr Whiskers might enjoy watching the birds from the window (sort of like cat television!). However, be careful about where you place the feeders. Don’t place them too close to the ground, or attach them to anything your cat will easily be able to climb. If you can’t find a safe spot out of paw’s reach, it’s best to avoid bird feeders in your garden altogether. 
  • Avoid letting your cat out in the early mornings or at night. Small mammals tend to be most active at dawn and dusk. One way to avoid your cat bringing you mice or birds as gifts is to keep Mr Whiskers indoors during these times. However, remember that while kitties spend most of the day sleeping, they are crepuscular (meaning they are also most active at dawn and dusk!). Hence, be prepared for your furry friend to vocally protest if they have to stay in during these times. 
  • Schedule daily playtime. Playing with your cat every day is a great way to redirect their energy while still engaging their natural predator instincts. Playtime will help fulfil your kitty’s desire to hunt so they’re less likely to go after local wildlife. It’s also good for your and your fur friend’s mental health, and will help create a stronger bond between you! 
  • Provide a catio. It’s always safest not to let your cat roam too widely. There are many outdoor hazards such as cars that can put your kitty at risk. If possible, create an enclosed space where your fur friend can safely spend time outdoors. An enclosed catio will also decrease the likelihood of your cat hunting for and bringing you mice and birds. 

What to do if my cat brings me mice or birds

Even if you follow all the above steps, it’s possible your cat may still find a way to bring you a ‘gift’ on occasion. If this happens, don’t panic, and don’t punish your cat. Remember: they’re just doing what comes naturally to them. Here are a few steps you can follow if your feline brings a mouse or bird into the home. 

If the animal is alive but possibly injured: 

  • Line a small box with a lid with a soft cloth or paper towels. Place the mouse or bird inside. Keep the box in a warm, safe place, away from direct sunlight or drafts (and, obviously, away from your fur friend!). 
  • Give the animal food and water. Keep in mind that different species have different dietary needs, so be sure to check first to find out what food is appropriate. If you’re not sure, provide them with water and contact a local professional (more on that below).
  • Get help from a professional. It’s not always easy to tell when mice or birds are injured, so you should seek professional help no matter what. Contact your local wildlife rehabilitation center, or a veterinarian in your area who specializes in wildlife. They can give you the information and support you need to appropriately care for the animal. 
  • Release the animal. Once the mouse or bird has recovered (and you have the go ahead from the wildlife professional), release them back into the wild. Try to release them exactly where you found them, as this will increase their chances of survival in the wild. 

If you can’t save the animal/it’s already dead:

  • There will be cases where you may not be able to save the animal. If this happens, you will need to take it to a veterinarian so the vet can humanely euthanise it.
  • If the animal is already dead, you should remove your cat from the room before cleaning it up. Wear rubber gloves to pick up the dead animal and put it in a bag. Tie the bag so no air can get out, and place it in an outdoor trash bin. Be sure to thoroughly clean the area where the animal was with bleach or disinfectant. 

Are you going on a trip and planning to allow your kitty outdoor time while you’re away? Make sure you walk your cat sitter through the right steps to take if your cat brings mice or birds into your home. When hiring a cat sitter, also make sure they can accommodate their visiting schedule to your cat’s. They should visit when your cat is most likely to be inside the home. This way your sitter can check that Mr Whiskers is okay and spend time cuddling and playing with your furry friend too! 

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