One reason why people should not criticise the cat’s predatory urges

Zipped mouth

People who criticise the cat for preying on small mammals and birds should be less vocal and outspoken and reconsider.

For 99% of the entire time of the cat’s domestication which began around 9,500 years ago we wanted our cat to prey on small mammals which nearly always included rodents. This was the main reason for keeping a cat; to keep down rodents and “pests”. Domestic cats were much more indoor/outdoor cats. They spent far more time outdoors. Companionship came second and the relationships between cat and human was less close. There was a distinct utility element to the relationship.

Recently, over the past 100 years, people have demanded something entirely different from their cat. The priority now is companionship. It is more than a priority. For 99% of cat owners, companionship is the sole reason for keeping a cat while preying on mammals and birds has become a nuisance to people.

But we changed the goal posts didn’t we? We can’t expect the cat to erase millions of years of evolution overnight. Remember the domestic cat is a domesticated wildcat. We can change what we want from a cat. We can change our minds but we can’t expect the cat to throw a switch and satisfy our desires overnight. The domestic cat is changing but there is a long way to go.

We’ll have to wait thousands of years before the domestic cat turns into a piece of fluffy furniture, which is what some people quite like nowadays.

So, people who criticise the cat for preying on native species and birds should be more tolerant and remember that people domesticated the cat to prey on animals that were considered a nuisance. We should give the domestic cat some leeway and accept the cat’s natural instinct to hunt, an attribute that at one time we admired.

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One reason why people should not criticise the cat’s predatory urges — 36 Comments

  1. Well said Michael. The way cats are handled in the Mediterranean countries is not too bad after all. They live mostly outside and get on with their job of pest control while having an often very amicable relationship with people. I have several Cyprian “feral” community cats which are so affectionate and trusting you wouldn’t believe it, but they are quite OK outside sometimes away for days at a time. Turkanna is one such grateful cat.

    • It shows up well, Harvey. 🙂 All of your cats looks just so elegant! BTW, I liked everything you had to say on the previous page. Nutrition, esp amino acids, essential and non-, is a truly interesting topic. Do you remember Frances Moore Lappe’s Diet for a Small Planet? on complementary proteins? I read that so many times to learn how to be a high-quality protein-consuming healthy teen.

    • What I call the Van look 😉 I know you don’t completely agree with me. Her tail pattern looks really interesting. Cute cat.

      Here is your picture with the blue/cyan color cast removed:

  2. I have to say it: that’s the most bizarre cat image I have ever seen, Michael. This is a great follow-up to the sugar/diet article. The mouse is the perfect food for a domestic feline. (I have a copy of that vet’s bible on my bookshelf. It’s a classic :)) To sum up my feelings on it (even though raised pet mice as a child and truly loved them), when Oreo, the ex-neighbor’s cat, leaves a little mouse present at the front door, I smile and make a mental note to praise him while I hold the poor little dead mouse in my hand. He looks so appreciative when I do that.

    When a cat plays with a live mouse, it is usually after she has bit through the nerves at the base of the skull, which I believe numbs any pain. It is an act of nature, regardless of how satiated the cat is, she will do it, as Michael so carefully spelled out. We all know this. It isn’t cruel. Do what you can to praise the cat, and then hopefully she will eat it, so that you don’t have to.

    • She is lithe and fit like a cat should be. No chance of feline obesity. The feline obesity epidemic is partly due to what people in the West want from their cat: domesticated to the point where he/she no longer is a predator.

  3. Spot on Michael, cats hunt by instinct, they don’t know what we consider vermin and what we value, a pretty robin is as fair game to a cat as a rat, we are the ones who make the distinctions then get all uptight when cats kill the wrong ones. I too get sick of the endless bleating on about it, every now and then a letter pops up in our local paper, on about big bad cats killing all the dicky birds, well yes it IS sad, for the birds that don’t want to die but also for the dirty rat that equally finds life is sweet, but it’s that old thing called nature that makes a cat do what a cat does. You’d think mankind would have learned that by now, but no, in our usual arrogant way we want to control everything including the instincts of animals we have forced to become domesticated.

      • It’s one of the things that really gets my goat, some of the protesters are the same ones that call themselves conservationists who go out and blast birds from the sky and then dig a shallow pit and bury the bodies because they didn’t shoot them to eat them they just shot them for pleasure.

  4. Brilliant article Michael and great comments too from PoC family who understand and truly love cats.
    Why should cats have to change just to please humans?
    Some people call cats cruel for playing with their prey before giving them the fatal ‘nape bite’ to finish them off. Talk about hypocrites, there is no species more cruel than the human race! People know when they are doing a cruel act, cats don’t think ‘Oh I’ll have fun torturing this mouse’ they act by instinct not by evil thoughts.
    Anyone who thinks cats should adapt to furry ornaments to be lifted down and played with as toys when it’s convenient is ignorant and very wrong!

    • Why should cats have to change just to please humans?

      Yes, absolutely. We are the ones who are changing our minds. We have no right to force that on our cats.

      • Wow you really said it well Michael. That’s brilliant. Also I think many have changed alot and already they don’t hunt half as much. So those who are impatient should also feel somewhat satisfied.

        I am sad today because my cat Gigi in Canada has gotten her 3rd bladder infection in a year because her kidneys are not doing well. I hope she lives a long time still. She is 14 or so.

  5. Cats make good rodent control is a centuries’ old myth.

    The rodents reproduce in burrows and holes out of the reach of cats, where they are happy to reproduce forever to entertain cats the rest of their lives, and make your own lives miserable, on into infinity. On top of that, when cats infect rodents with cat’s Toxoplasma gondii parasite, this hijacks the minds of rodents to make the rodents attracted to where cats urinate. (Google for: Parasite Hijacks the Mind of Its Host) Cats actually attract disease-carrying rodents to where cats are (and the cats then contract these diseases on contact with, or being in proximity to, these rodents). Further increasing the cat/rodent/disease density of this happy predator/prey balance. It has been documented many many times. The more cats you have, the more rodents you get.

    Look at any island that had cats imported to take care of the imported rodents hundreds of years ago as some simple and concrete proof of this cat/rodent balance. All the native wildlife is either gone or on the brink of extinction with nothing but a healthy population of cats and rodents thriving on into infinity. Cats DO NOT get rid of rodents! I don’t care how many centuries that fools will claim that cats keep rodents in-check, they’ll still be wrong all these centuries. Civilizations of humans have come and gone in great cities like Egypt, yet their cats and rodents remain in even greater pestilent numbers.

    No cat population anywhere has EVER been able to control rodents. But native predators can — easily.

    Keep deceiving yourselves.

    • Woody, you had better keep it polite and no CAPITAL LETTERS please. Don’t write things like this: “Keep deceiving yourselves.” That is rude. If you do that again you’ll be banned again until you improve.

      You have totally missed the point of the article as usual because of your demented mentality. To clarify (as you need this) the point is that we (people) domesticated the wildcat for the purpose of keeping down rodent populations in settlements and the wildcat liked to be domesticated. We now have a different reason for domesticating the cat: companionship. We cannot therefore blame the cat for her predatory urges. I hope you can understand that point which is independent of the cat’s effectiveness in hunting rodents.

      Incidentally, if the domestic cat is a less effective predator than before it is because of domestication. I also made the point that the cat is changing in the article.

      What if there were no cats? Do you think there would be a plague of rats?

      • Michael, in the future, you might want to give yourself a little time to calm down before replying to something like B.Travis’ post. This reply of yours is just as inappropriate as his. First paragraph: appropriate. Second paragraph: “your demented mentality”? Not appropriate; personal attack, rather than appropriate correction.

        p.s. I would have sent this, more appropriately, via private message, if you would only provide a “Contact us” method.

        • Hi, the thing is you have not read all his comments (a lot of them). This person is Woodsman under one of his many aliases. His comments have been appalling and yes demented. They are full of trolling bias and disgusting violence. He says he shoots cats by the hundreds. He makes ridiculous statements against the cat endlessly. Sorry, but I know him very well through the mad comments he makes. He deliberately toned down his last comment (the one I responded to) to get it published. He knows I’ll delete it if it is the usual rubbish.

          See also this page which shows some of the IP addresses, emails and names he employs:

          I was extremely calm and actually bored when I wrote my comment.

          If you look at the top of the website you’ll see “(contact)” that is where my contact details are in full including telephone number and address. 😉

          • I apologize for missing the “contact” link (it IS very easily missed, and no, I don’t apologize for the capitals).

            His history is irrelevant. Why he hasn’t been banned is something you may want to reconsider. The fact is your personal attack is still inappropriate.

            • I have banned him but he constantly creates new aliases. Perhaps you are Woodsman? I don’t know. I believe his history is extremely relevant because he has shown himself to be a nasty troll and a rampant cat hater and killer. Do I accept that sort of person on PoC? Most sites are far stricter than me.

            • Woody’s history has everything to do with what Michael said. I have saved a lot of his comments, even some before Michael had a chance to delete. I can show you some really cruel and raw ones if you like. I’m sorry that he wasn’t standing in front of me when he called me (and someone else) here a c*nt or P*ssy!
              I would really like to give him some credit for his recent attempts to be civil, but I can’t because of his history of insults and name calling.

              • I don’t care about his history. That’s relevant only to whether he’s banned or not. What’s relevant to this conversation is Michael’s response to him. Resorting to personal attack in response to “Woody’s” post(s) is just lowering yourself to his level, which isn’t a good thing. When you do what he does, you lose your right to complain about what he does. If you can’t see that, you’re no better than he is.

              • OwnedByCalico – no way to reply to your latest comment so will do it here.
                I’m disappointed, Woody. Just when I felt you may be, actually, making a rational comment, you just had to slip an insult in.

            • Michael has the right to reply to bitter and twisted comments in any way he chooses, it’s HIS web site and he deserves the highest respect from all visitors. We don’t see half the angry disgusting violent comments Woody makes under various aliases, but the ones we do see are bad enough. Michael shouldn’t have to read them in order to protect us, but he does!

  6. Cats do get rid of rodents. My childhood cat Tigger kept the mole, vole and shrew population down to almost nothing in our yard while she was alive. She was a stray we took in. Before her the yard was full of those tunnels the little buggers made in the soft soil. After she came, that stopped– the ground was flat and solid everywhere. She sat by the entrance to those mole tunnels and would wait for hours. When one poked his nose out POW! She had him. Our front steps were constantly littered with entrails. She did also decrease the bird population. Now that the feral colony was wiped out by coyotes, the bird population, like the moles, recovered in one year.
    Most pet cats don’t have a huge impact on local wildlife. But she had been abandoned and the feral cats had no choice. That’s the fault of humans. But barn cats do reduce rodent populations. I grew up near the country and farmers knew the difference when they had cats who were good hunters and cats who weren’t. I would say some cats reduce rodent populations, but just getting a cat to do this job is no guarantee. This may be because slowly, over time, we are breeding out the genes of the best hunters. Monty is a terrible hunter. Nature would have taken him out by now. I’m not going to let him breed, but not all humans get their cats neutered. The terrible hunters live to pass on those genes. And although my parents are enjoying seeing more birds, their yard in the summer again is a mass of ankle twisting mole tunnels you can barely walk across. Tigger decreased the bird population, but she decimated the mole population. It is certainly possible many of the rodents simply moved into the ravine, but they weren’t up by the house, and they weren’t tunneling in the yard, so that was good enough for us. Walking around squishing down their tunnels does nothing to discourage them, but a cat grabbing at least one of them every day was pretty effective.

    • Thank you Ruth. There are also the feral cats. There are similar numbers of feral cats to domestic cats and they prey on rodents.

      Woody is just messing around. He hasn’t got the faintest idea and his thoughts are distorted by his demented attitude towards cats. Sad.

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