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Why do cats play with mice before killing them? It is one of the perplexing questions for cat owners. You would think that once they capture their prey, they will just dive into feasting.
We all agree that cats are among the top cuddly and cute pets we have, even when playing with their prey. They are protective of their kittens and owners. Playful, too, they are and can be a bit shy at times. However, it would help if you did not underestimate their natural instincts to hunt and chase down their prey, like their wild feline cousins.
While there are no definitive answers as to why cats play with their prey, there are a few theories that attempt to answer this mystery question.
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Why Do Cats Play With Mice Before Killing Them?
1. Predatory genes
Although domesticated, cats will still have predatory genes. Your cat might be comfortable on your laps, all cuddly, but turn into a predatory mode within seconds of sighting prey like mice.
The difference is that most domesticated cats do not know how to deliver the final killing blow to their prey. Wild cats learn how to hunt and kill their prey from their mothers. Domesticated cats learn how to chase their prey from their play games with other cats. Due to this, you might see your cat playing with mice before killing it since it is figuring out how to do it.
2. Safety Measures
When a cat plays with a mouse before killing it, it is probably looking for assurance that the mouse is, indeed, dead. To finally kill their prey, cats bite into the prey’s spinal cord around the neck area.
That means repositioning the prey for an effective bite. If not carefully done, the prey might turn back and harm the cat’s face or eyes. Mice can scratch or bite in self-defense while other prey like birds can hurt with their beaks. This, of course, can lead to infectious injuries or even death of the cat. Instead of taking this risk, cats prefer to tire their prey by playing around.
3. Just for fun
Some cats will play with mice before killing them just for fun. You will mostly experience this with an indoor cat rather than outdoor cats. While most indoor cats do not know how to deliver the final blow, they also do not need prey for food.
If yours is an indoor cat and it is playing with mice, then it could be enjoying the moment.
According to research done some decades ago, the amount of playing involved will depend on how hungry the cat is. A very hungry cat will not play with the mice for long, especially if it is a small prey like mice. If the cat is full, then it will play with the prey longer and kill it once the prey is very tired to retaliate.
The next time you see your cat playing around, do not get perplexed with the lack of answers on why do cats play with mice before killing them. Instead, sit back, relax, and let your cat do what they do best.
Hey, I’m Amy and I’m in love with my Pets! I have a diverse variety, including 2 cats, 1 dog, 3 rabbits, 2 guinea pigs, a rat and a beautiful macaw. I love writing about everything pet-related and spend as much time as I can sharing my personal experiences.