2 videos which illustrate how domestic and stray cats are scared of rats

Domestic and stray cats can be reverential towards rats nowadays. What I mean is they back off and are fundamentally, at least, slightly frightened of rats and what they might do to them in terms of injuries. The first video we see appears to show a domestic cat batting a rat over the head with their left paw, over and over again. The rat does not back down. I feel sorry for the rat as do other commenters. But the key point is that the cat does not have the courage to apply the killing bite to the rat because they’re frightened of being bitten and injured. They don’t want to put their face up to the rat which would be necessary to bite them to death.

Cats don't attack rat who shares food bowl
Cats don’t attack rat who shares food bowl. Screenshot.
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The only alternative is to bat what should be a prey animal over the head to subdue them at which point the cat might decide to attack with their teeth. This illustrates the old problem of “cats playing with prey” in a cruel manner. It is not a matter of playing, it’s a matter of being cautious because predators inherently avoid injuries of any kind as it can cause them to starve the death by impairing their ability to catch prey. Of course, I’m talking about the wild and domestic cats are fed but their instincts are based on wild cat behaviour.

In the second video we see a couple of stray cats being fed from a bowl. These look like community cats in a developing country. The rat muscles in on the cats’ feeding bowl. One of the two cats ignores the rat and continues feeding while the other backs off to allow the rat freedom to take their place at the bowl. As I said in the opening paragraph, this cat is reverential or overly respectful of the rat. It illustrates the balance of power between a large rat and a community cat. In this instance, the rat has got their way.

These videos seem to tell us that the first domestic cats which were semi-domesticated North African wildcats were much better at killing rats than today’s stray and domestic cats. It seems that they’ve become soft relative to their wildcat ancestor which were full-blown wildcats and therefore much better hunters.

The people who criticise the existence of feral and stray cats argue that stray cats don’t keep down the rat population and it is hard not to agree when you watch these videos. As I said it seems that the modern domestic and semi-domestic cat is often not up to challenging and killing a large rat for fear of being harmed.

This is not to say that all domestic and stray cats are the same. They are individuals and I’m sure that some are bolder than others when confronted with a rat. The honour of the greatest ratcatcher goes to a female tabby who lived at the White City Stadium in London. Over a period of about 6 years, she caught no fewer than 12,480 rats. This works out at average daily rate of 5-6. Her behaviour was that of the domestic cats of ancient Egypt when the cat was useful in keeping down the rat population and when the killing of a domestic cat was punishable by death that reason.

Killing rats and deterring them are two different things. Although domestic cats are reluctant to kill a rat, I would argue that they do deter them from occupying an area around their owner’s home. The domestic cat does have some use, therefore, along the lines of their ancient employment. Domestic cats can also be cautious with smaller prey animals like mice. My cat catches mice and eats them. He caught a rat but didn’t eat it. I don’t think he killed it either as I believe it was poisoned and therefore, I am extremely thankful that he didn’t eat it.

Postscript: I have seen other videos of stray cats avoiding rats because they are scared of them.

Below are some more pages on domestic cats and rats.

2 thoughts on “2 videos which illustrate how domestic and stray cats are scared of rats”

  1. If the rat smells like their human, there is no issue. Yes, sometimes rats will use their teeth inquisitively to check you out, but don’t let your pet rat out of his, her cage if he/she is prone to this behavior towards your cats. I had a very dear friend stick her finger in front of my ratski’s nose, and he left a V mark on the tip. My cats have never been subject to that, and they all sleep well and play well. By the way, it bled profusely, but I did the same thing myself when I was learning.

  2. I wouldn’t make much of such isolated cases. We have many outdoors cats around here, and I have seen plenty of them catching and killing not only mice but also larger rats. It is usually the truly stray or feral cats, who are not regularly fed, that go for the larger prey. The ones that are well-fed tend to be a bit “lazier” when it comes to hunting. And you certainly do notice when there is a lower population of outdoor cats by the reciprocal increase in mice and rats. One year, for example, we had quite literally a “roof rat invasion” around here. They were everywhere! I have never seen so many rats in my life. I would see them every night, going up and down the roofs and trees. As more people started letting cats out, and thus increasing the outdoor cat population, the roof rats gradually “vanished”. In a couple of months you could hardly see any more roof rats. And there is no doubt it was because of the cats. I saw plenty of them, even some of my own, prancing around with the caught rats firmly held in their jaws. Many mornings when I went out the door, I would find a dead rat near the entrance, typical feline way of saying: “Hey, I’m doing my job!”


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