back to article Deadly pussies kill more often than owners think

Housecats should be kept inside more often to keep them from their daily killing sprees, a study shows. KittyCam spots an injured bird KittyCam at the scene of the crime. Pic credit: National Geographic & University of Georgia Those cute kittens whose faces are peer from endless posts on Pinterest are actually predators, …

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Toxoplasmosis - miscarriage, stillbirth and blindness

Although often dismissed as trivial or amusing, toxoplasmosis can cause serious illness and death. It's especially dangerous to the foetus during early months of pregnancy and later to those who have a latent infection and whose immune systems become compromised.

Here's a link from the NHS:

http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/Toxoplasmosis/Pages/Symptoms.aspx

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@SiempreTuna

So what is your explanation for the huge number of people that are dog/rodent/snake/fish owners then? Undiscovered bugs that affect the brains of these people, maybe? Or are you just talking out of your arse?

Yes, toxoplasma does *seem" to have *some* effect the behaviours of *certain* cat prey species, but since humans don't fall into that category, I'd say you need to quite a lot more work to prove your point. But then it wouldn't make for cheap jibes, would it?

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Re: @SiempreTuna

Oh, and during a recent hospitalisation for an unknown illness, I was tested for toxoplasma (amongst many, many other things) because it was a reasonable thing to do given that I have had cats for over 35 years now. I don't have it, so that tends to undermine your you silly argument, at least in part.*

* I know; one datum doesn't mean anything scientifically, but s/he wasn't being scientific either.

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Happy

Re: @SiempreTuna

You don't see quite so many people with houses full of dogs/rodents/snakes/fish and those that you do also seem a couple of sandwiches short of a picnic, though my guess is the source of those problems could lie elsewhere.

The affects of toxoplasmosis are pretty well documented - there's really not too much *seem* or *some* or *certain* about it.

There is also a strong corrolation (obviously, appropriate provisos apply) between the sudden increase in cat ownership following a fashion for all things Egyptian in the C19th and an increase in reported cases of various psychoses, including schizophrenia. Of course, it could just be coincidence ..

I'm assuming you're a cat person ..?

As for the accusation regarding cheap jibes: guilty as charged. But really, people who eat so much cat poo? Least of their problems ..

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Silver badge

This is only a surprise to subscribers of Cat Fancy and city folk.

I grew up on a farm, at the most we had 8 cats, who all lived outside and spent their time killing anything smaller than a chicken that came within range. Interestingly, lots of them had favoured prey - one of them would go crazy about dinosaursbirds, one would mainly hunt baby rabbits, one mainly rats.

Quite often, they would bring whatever they had caught 'home' to the back door and eat everything except the entrails, leaving them on the step.

Another thing that all cats like to do is play. People go *c*r*a*z*y* when a cat starts playing with a laser pointer, or a ball of yarn. The same people look much less impressed when the cat is playing with a heavily injured mouse, catching it, mouthing it, letting it go, catching it again, until the mouse dies of a heart attack.

Only much much later did we ever have a cat that came inside the house. I stopped that when I woke up one morning to find half a dead rabbit at the foot of my bed.

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Anonymous Coward

the cat told us what to do

cats. nasty to the weak. grovel to the strong. It's like the template for British foreign policy . lol

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Coat

I have one of each

I have 1 cat that is a Garfield (even looks like him and is as fat), and doesn't do anything more than occasionally bring in a frog to play with in the house. Never kills anything that one.

But then his sister, now she likes to bring in baby birds from our garden. She tried taking on the parent birdies but couldn't do more than hurt it's wing.

Yes, cats are wild animals essentially... but ain't we all. ;-)

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Holmes

Another press release from DOBO .....

the Department Of the Bleeding Obvious.

The Egyptians were the first to domesticate cats. Once they began farming, and producing more food than they could eat at once, they built grain stores along the banks of the Nile; which, in turn, attracted mice, rats and other assorted creatures, much to the consternation of the Egyptians -- fortuitously for whom, the ready supply of mobile protein, in its own turn, attracted wild cats. Impressed by the way the cats had appeared from nowhere, and their ability to sit very still for hours on end before pouncing on a mouse before the mouse knew what was happening, the Egyptians began worshipping them as Gods.

Also, cats killing garden birds are actually performing a useful function. The ones caught by the cats are the weakest. They probably were going to die sooner or later anyway; at least this way, they don't deprive the others of scarce food.

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Re:performing a useful function

I have two problems with your rationale there. Firstly, bird populations are *way* down on what they were a few decades ago so their food probably isn't "scarce" anymore. Secondly, since the cat population is kept artificially high by industrial food production and vetinary intervention, they aren't just killing off the weakest, but going on to kill off the majority of the "fairly fit" as well.

Of course, since all the same arguments apply to humans even more than they apply to cats, so I suppose I'm a hypocrite. Perhaps the correct Darwinian view is simply that cats have discovered the perfect evolutionary strategy: look cute to humans.

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Re: Re:performing a useful function

Problem is, the decline in bird populations isn't due to cats.

If anything, it's probably due to better home insulation; in Winter, we're keeping more heat in, leaving less for the birdies. What a dilemma for the tree-huggers! Save energy, harm wildlife!

Anyway, this doesn't really affect my main point. If cold is the problem for birds, then the easiest birds for cats to kill will be the nesh ones; shivering and hopping from one foot to the other, rubbing their wings to try and keep warm, complaining in bird language how freezing they are ..... Cats don't mind a tasty cold meat snack. The birds left to pass on their genes, pass on the gene for cold-tolerance, and so it goes on.

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Trollface

BAN ALL CATS

They kill indiscriminately .. CALL PETA ! CALL THE SIERRA CLUB !

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Boffin

Could we see the same data for dogs please?

Bogan / trailer trash / chavs best friend kill FAR more than cats.

They will all happily kill humans too, given a chance, something I am yet to hear attributed to a housecat.

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xyz
Mushroom

The only legal way to kill a cat...

...is with a dog. True, ask any copper. We need dogs, lots of dogs. Personally I think you should be allowed to kill any cat on site.

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Mushroom

Re: The only legal way to kill a cat...

Yeah, and those fucking annoying pandas.

While we're at it, lets kill ALL animals other than dogs, because dogs are so cool.

Plus killing animals is so much fun, eh?

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Headmaster

Re: The only legal way to kill a cat...

Which site?

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Re: The only legal way to kill a cat...

Lol. The biggest threat to wildlife is man.

I'm all for cats killing birds. I live in suburban wooded area (aka guano-ville), with birdshit absolutely everywhere. As for the shit spreading by cats -- humans do a fair bit of that too!

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Cats on-site

Maybe you should ask them if they have legitimate business on-site, such as feline technical support, before taking such drastic measures.

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xyz

Re: The only legal way to kill a cat...

> Which site?

Ok sight, but on site (as it the site of a building) works just as well. The key point of the message to take home is...KILL THEM, KILL THEM ALL.

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xyz

Re: The only legal way to kill a cat...

> Yeah, and those fucking annoying pandas

I don't have the problem of pandas crapping in my garden, I have a problem with people's cats crapping in my garden. BTW, pandas eat shoots and leaves (pun intended) and as far as I know have never induldged in bird hunting. You've got to try to be less petulant otherwise you'll break your iPad

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Re: The only legal way to kill a cat...

So have you done anything about the cats that crap in your garden, like talked to their owners about it if they're domesticated or reported them to rescues to get them picked up if they're strays?

Or was it easier to just post some bellendy borderline-psychopathic comment on an internet forum?

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WTF?

Re: done anything about the cats that crap in your garden

Great advice. All I need to do now is catch the cat, identify the owner and wait for the owner to reprogram their cat.

I think this comments forum just jumped the shark.

Have you ever tried catching a cat that doesn't know you? Have you? Really? !

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xyz
Devil

Re: The only legal way to kill a cat...

> Or was it easier to just post some bellendy borderline-psychopathic comment on an internet forum?

Erm...you were typing?

Anyhoo...a fact is not psychopathic, it's a fact: The only legal way to kill a cat is with a dog, because it is the order of nature. I didn't write the law BTW and I don't understand how it's not a national sport 'cos it would beat dog fighting.

Oh and we did talk to the owners; we scooped up their cat crap and ladelled it onto their doorstep and anyone who complained was offered a physical resolution path :-) They kept better control of their vermin after that and then moved.

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@xyz

So your argument is "Something is causing me a nuisance, therefore it must die". On top of that, you go further and say "Anyone that disagrees with me should just STFU or risk bodily harm*"

I'll be watching out for your trial with interest. We don't live in the 19th Century any more.

* " ... anyone who complained was offered a physical resolution path"

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Pint

My kitty...

... is an expert hunter, but strangely enough won't touch anything which even reminds him of meat. Offer him most wet cat food or meat prepared for humans and he doesn't recognise it as food. He only seems to eat biscuits. Whoever owned him before we did has a lot to answer for.

I'm not sure who these kitties are who manage to catch birds though. None of the kitties I've ever owned have managed to get within so much as a meter of a bird before they were spotted. One did bag a rabbit though. A big, adult rabbit. Which he dragged through the catflap. Minus its head. And left under the sideboard. I think he might have been trying to tell me something.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: My kitty...

I've seen mine get a bird once... and only once. Other than that he's either keeping it very quiet or he's just crap at it..... Sorry moggy but I think its the latter!

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Paris Hilton

"cats are likely killing more than four billion animals per year..."

Wait, four billion?

I know that small creatures compensate their short life-span with larger numbers, but isn't that a tad too high?

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Re: "cats are likely killing more than four billion animals per year..."

It certainly seems impressive when compared to the relatively measly 10 billion animals that humans kill for food every year in the USA. Although I suppose the human food animals are much bigger. If only the cats could learn to cooperate and hunt in packs, they might be able to bring down a cow - if we say one cow equates to a thousand mice, then cats would be able to cut their kill count to 4 million. If they were killing for food, which they aren't.

Yum, cow - mmm.

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Gold badge

Re: "cats are likely killing more than four billion animals per year..."

Hardly. Take a few (ok, quite a lot actually) million pet cats. Multiply by the number of days in a year, which last I looked was several hundred. It may or may not be true, but it is perfectly possible.

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Sometimes when I've out at night stargazing, I hear a jingle (my cat has a bell collar so its effects on the local bird population would be lessened) and then I hear silence, then some scrabbling, followed by crunching. Flip the torch around, she apparently plucked a mouse off of bare tarmac!

Well, it's one less mouse to worry about...

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Facepalm

The other side

Speaking for the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Worms, what about the massive bloodbath perpetrated by birds on my little wiggly friends? Many millions of them carried off by birds (especially the early variety) every day.

Animals kill each other. If you can't handle that, read Beatrix Potter instead.

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Re: The other side

Come back with that argument when it is *domesticated* birds killing the worms.

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Mushroom

Extinction-Level Event

I used to live in an area that had a small wooded area 100 yards or so from my house, in the middle of a large housing estate; the only reason it hadn't been built on was because it was a conservation area, a pond in the centre of it was the only home in the UK to a particular breed of newt.

My cat developed a habit of catching these newts and leaving them (usually in pieces) around the house. In the last 2 years I lived there, though, no newts were brought home. I honestly believe that she single-handedly wiped out the entire species...

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Extinction-Level Event

and that's why people shouldn't have them. Fucking creatures.

Used to have one pissing and shitting in our garden and, before all the cat-tards get defensive, the area in which I live has strict rules about keeping cats indoors if you want to own one i.e. don't let them roam wild. Still, a couple of well placed shots with stones from the trusty left arm has seen the f*cker off for now.

Cat owners need to get a grip. How would they like it if I came into their garden and did a shit? Or perhaps just let my dog shit on their patio? Wankers.

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Re: area in which I live has strict rules about keeping cats indoors

Yeah, those would be the areas inhabited by fuckwits who should never be allowed to pass laws since they have no understanding of basic science.

On the cat shit front, cats bury theirs dogs leave it in the open. I've cleaned way more dog shit out of my yard then I've ever cleaned cat shit. And I've now lived in a house with cats more years than I've lived in a house without cats. And most dogs do their business while on a walk with the owner standing over it while it is doing so. Much easier to clean up when you're standing right there when it happens. If you ever find cat shit in your yard and can prove it was my cat and not the feral ones running around, I'll happily come clean it up.

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Unhappy

Re: area in which I live has strict rules about keeping cats indoors

"On the cat shit front, cats bury theirs"

Except when they don't.

When a friend of mine moved house several years ago, the removal men discovered a huge pile of cat shit under the trampoline in the back garden. It seems one of her cats had used it as regular toilet for a very long time. It was out of sight, but out of sight is definitely not the same as being buried.

And worse is that it was under the trampoline, on which her daughter regularly played.

At the time, she claimed not to know about it - but I've always been a bit suspicious about that, because I remembered a time, maybe a year before, when I was in her garden throwing a ball around with said daughter. The ball went under the trampoline. I was going to retrieve it, but she stopped me, suggesting we do something else.

Putting two and two together, I'm inclined to think she knew the cat was using the space under the trampoline as a toilet, and chose to ignore it.

Oh, and the removal men refused to touch the trampoline after they'd moved it and discovered what was underneath - it got left, and so did that cat shit. A nice little present for the new owners of the house.

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Boffin

You're ALL missing the interesting bit of the research...

The researchers found that only a third of cats actively hunt. Two thirds don't hunt, or are so crap at it that they don't catch anything. What I'm guessing is going on here is based on how most predators actually develop hunting skills. Most predators, especially ones with complex hunting strategies, do not have innate hunting abilities as such but are taught by their parents how to hunt, and more importantly what to hunt.

This is why a lot of cats bring back live prey to their owners: the cat thinks that its owners don't know how to hunt, and need teaching, hence the live prey brought into a closed space where it cannot get away and the "kittens" can hunt it down for themselves, making as many mistakes as they need to do.

I'm guessing that the developmental window for learning how to hunt is fairly short, and that the majority of cats which don't hunt, or which hunt only insects, were kept indoors during this period and neither they nor their mother had access to the outdoors to bring in examples of what to hunt for them. This really needs checking out; if this is the reason, then we can drastically reduce the toll on the country's birdlife by selectively depriving kittens of the lessons needed to hunt birds.

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Re: You're ALL missing the interesting bit of the research...

Perhaps a bigger factor might be how much food the owners give them. If they aren't hungry they have no need to hunt. Perhaps we don't even see proper cat hunting with domestic cats, because they don't need to properly hunt to the extent that they pull in enough food to survive.

In my opinion a lot of cats largely just kill out of bordom. See how excited they can get over a piece of string waved in front of them, or how curious they get if they find an unfamiliar area and have to explore it all. So I think when outside for so long they inevitably come across unaware birds and mice and suchlike and much like a piece of string it grabs their attention and they go for it to play. My own cat scratched me quite a lot when I played with it with a piece of string. It's easy for me to imagine most kills are unintentional and the cat is just playing with the animal like it would play with a piece of string but in the process slowly kills it. Of course once the animal is dead the cat might eat it, even partially, but I don't think the process can be described as hunting. Even if the cat in bordom looks for mice, or birds to play with I still don't think that's really hunting. Hunting in my opinion would be searching and killing prey simply to eat with no fuss.

Basically you have no hope to stop them. I can't envision the possibility of a cat not becoming transfixed by the sight of a small animal moving in the undergrowth and trying to play with it. I mean what else is the cat going to do all day? sunbathe? write a report? A small animal moving around is probably the most exciting thing a cat can find.

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Holmes

Just a crazy cat lover says, Let them Eat Birds...

I've had both dogs and cat and have to say that I like cats much better as pets. Far less trouble, completely self sufficient and yet very lovable and affectionate creatures. The worst thing about cats is the litter box but at least cats will crap in a box while dogs will go anywhere they lose control (usually on a carpet).

As far as cats being predators, get used to it. I have had cats that brought in gifts and ones that just expected to be fed. When a cat brings you a "gift" it is just that. The cat is trying to show appreciation for the good food and back scratching that you have done for it. Let alone that most of mine have been rescues and they have always been quite appreciative of not getting killed for some reason. Your cat has shown that you are the leader of the "pride" and brings food to you, simple as that.

In the 80's I had two cats, Boogy (Striped tiger) and Biko (Coal Black), mother and son who were the best hunters ever, Boogy would leap 8 feet into the air from a standing start and catch bats on the wing in the garden at night. Biko was mostly a mouser and would leave 3/4 eaten gifts at the side porch every morning. Boogy was crazy though, every summer day she would jump up and hang by one paw from ground to the windowsill with a mouse or a vole under the other paw, hang there and mew until I recognized her by say "Good Girl" then she would bite it and bounce off the house and run to the back porch where she would kill the mouse after playing with it for a while.

We had a cat called Dammit when I was a toddler that would guard my stroller like a pit bull. Anyone who came near that cat and was not family was in for a real surprise. This cat was so smart that my mom would let it out in a basket on a rope from the second floor apartment window and the cat would yeowl to come back in the same way when she was done with her business.

Another cat I had actually jumped up on the back of a German Shepherd that liked to poop in our yard and ran him down the street like a furry jockey. That dog never came back again, too embarrased.

Spooky, my current feline pal will run up and jump on the couch and rub his nose on my cheek and give me a quick "Mewf" and lay on my lap. He comes when I call him just like a well trained dog. He weighs 18 lbs (he's 30" from nose to rump not including tail) and I've seen him scare off a pair of Foxes, Racoons and Opossums. Most dogs are little problem and they usually run away. Funny thing is he does not hunt for food (too well fed?) and let's most things escape after he gets bored. Weird thing is he LOVES Garter snakes.

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Is it only in Georgia

that people didn't know cats are predators?

And is it only in the western world that people are horrified by that fact?

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As Mr. Pratchett puts it:

If cats were shaped like frogs, we'd see what nasty, spiteful creatures they really are"

Yes, cats kill stuff. That's what they do, and yes they crap anywhere that other crap has been. Boo hoo.

I'd still rather have cats than mice,v oles and corrosive-shit birds around my house.

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Anonymous Coward

Terriers

Just to cheer up you cat haters. My terriers bring back cats through the dog flap. All in the proper state ie dead.

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Holmes

This is a hilarious thread

First we have the no shit Sherlock moment from a group of University researchers.

And then these comments. As a cat owner, I understand all the stories of what was brought back. They way they are told had me laughing so loud over lunch some colleague though I had gone mad.

Well done everyone - damn fine effort..

Thank you!

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Anonymous Coward

A simple natural principle at work

It's called 'Survival of the Fittest'

if birds, mice, voles etc... are too slow to escape a predator, are they fit to survive - nature ( red in tooth and claw ) says no.

AC to avoid the cat haters and religious anti - Darwin nuts

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Gold badge

Re: A simple natural principle at work

It's only Darwin-at-Work if the cats aren't supported by an industrial-scale food production and distribution network and all the vetinary care that human intelligence can provide.

For a more realistic ecological perspective: the UK cat population is about ten million. The UK wild-cat population is less than a thousand. FOUR ORDERS OF MAGNITUDE separate your comments from reality.

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Mushroom

Kil em all

It should be the law that if you se a cat on your turf you can kill it. Bastards!

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Re: Kil em all

I here-by enter into record House Resolution #4721: the georgecloonylookalike "F*ck Them Pussies" bill of 2012.

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Devil

Vast numbers of them committing genocide the world over while

So..... a creature massively expanding its explosive growth; committing genocide the world over and nothing keeping it in check. All of its predators are either gone or secured. Nothing to hold it back.

Humans, a wonderful example of what happens when you have no predators.

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"Surprising, if not startling"?

What's so surprising? F'crissakes, man, they're cats -- you know, like lions and leopards.

Our little Minnie may be cute and sweet and affectionate, and she may like to curl up in my lap while I'm watching TV, or snuggle up between my wife and I when we're in bed, but that doesn't change the fact that she's a little killing machine.

Mind, you, we live in the middle of the city, so needless to say, we raised Minnie as strictly an indoor cat, though we didn't subject her to the humiliation of de-clawing. Still, even though she's strictly a house cat, that doesn't mean she doesn't get plenty of hunting in. Normally, I'd say we have a bit of a mouse problem at our place, but we don't as we've got Minnie on the job. Last winter was especially cold, and a fair number of mice were finding their way into the house; Minnie nailed pretty much every mouse that dared to show itself -- at least ten that I know of. She was amazing to watch in action; she went from being our sweet little Minnie to being something relentlessly and ruthlessly efficient. I'd be at the drawing table working, and suddenly there'd be this big commotion in a corner on the other side of the studio, and it'd be all over before I knew what was happening, and Minnie would be trotting into the hallway with a mouse clenched in her jaws.

Way to go, Minnie. Good job, sweetie.

Look out, little furry folk! He's the all-night working cat.

Eats but one in every ten --- leaves the others on the mat.

--jethro tull

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WTF?

The Horror!

Predators hunting animals! How shocking! I thought they were supposed to subsist on apple pie and cabbages!

Who is actually shocked by this? How is this shocking news to ANYONE? The Disneyfication of people who are surprised that cats eat mice and don't befriend them for charming buddy adventures is kind of stupefying.

Its as bad as people who try and raise dogs on Vegetarian dog food.

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Silver badge

Bah!

My mum owned a cat that was, for want of a better phrase, traditional cat skills challenged.

One day he came in an rubbed around her legs crooning weirdly .

"What the hell's wrong with the cat? ARRRGH he's killed a mouse!"

Yep, they do bring in their kills to show off. Not a big cat person myself, but this behaviour is obvious, not anthropomorphic.

I can say this because the cat in question was in fact incapable of killing anything of the mammal family since it would sneak up, then sit up an mewl at the target, which would run or fly away at top speed. The birds of the area knew him by sight and would let him "sneak" in amongst them while they fed since they knew he'd announce his intention to attack when he was ready. It always seemed to come as a surprise to the cat that the target would flee, too. He never learned.

The mouse it brought in that time was cold and stiff as a board. It had obviously died of old age, but that didn't stop the cat from claiming the credit. It laid the body at my mum's feet and then demanded she look at it with very odd and bizarre behaviour. What else could it have been about?

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