A cat’s cunning or coincidence? Trapping birds or likes to eat bird seed?

by Phil (London, UK)

Napoleon, stalking prey this summer
Napoleon, stalking prey this summer. Photo: article’s author.
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I have three wonderful cats, a seven-and-a-half-year-old moggie called Triftji, and a pair of Egyptian Maus, Sinbad and Napoleon, both eighteen months old. There have been several amusing incidents with my little Maus, but one in particular really tickled me recently.

There was an amusing incident this morning with the smallest of my Maus, Napoleon; yesterday I noticed him scrambling over the wall from an adjacent garden with a green bag in his mouth, which he carried across my neighbour’s garden and leapt onto the dividing wall, bag still in his mouth. At this point he suddenly saw me and, startled, he dropped it from his mouth back into the neighbour’s garden.

I just forgot about it, as he has brought back all sorts of things in the past (apart from the usual birds, half a potato, a handful of cat collars, a spent firework, etc…). However, from bed early this morning, I noticed him scrambling over the wall again, with the same bag, which he dropped into my garden and proceeded to tear up. About half an hour later I walked out and found the bag ripped open and the contents scattered around the flag stones – looking more closely, I saw that it was a bag called ‘Supreme seeds for wild birds’, presumably used by a neighbour to refill a bird feeder.

It was only then that the thought struck me – was this a cat’s cunning or coincidence?! Maus, amongst other cats, are described as having higher levels of intelligence, but surely not this far? Surely, he didn’t notice what the bag’s contents were used for in my neighbour’s garden, and decided to lure his own birds in to his home territory for a spot of hunting?!

I would love to think that this was the case, although with mixed feelings… of my two Maus, Napoleon is the most enthusiastic (and successful) hunter of the two. The other Mau, Sinbad, is just a bit too cool to make enough effort, and Triftji’s hunting days seem to be behind him.

I’m leaning now towards this being intentional. Yesterday afternoon I saw him going to hide behind a small bush, from where he sat waiting, looking at the area where the bird seeds were scattered about!

RELATED: My cat eats bird seed

My cat eats bird seed
My cat eats bird seed. Screenshot.

May 22, 2022-response from Michael the owner of this website. I have returned to your post many years later and I am pleased that I did. I believe that I have the answer to your query. You think that your cat was trying to trap birds by ensuring that birdseed was thrown about the garden and he would then watch. I think the better theory is that your cat liked to eat birdseed on occasions and therefore was attracted to the bag because it contained a food that he could eat. It sounds strange that a domestic cat wants to eat birdseed and even enjoys it but it has happened and it has happened to me recently. I feed the birds and they leave some birdseed on the lawn at which point my cat comes along and eats it. And foxes also eat birdseed. It’s ironic that a domestic cat will eat raw birdseed but pet food manufacturers are criticised for using grain in dry cat food as a filler.


A Cat’s Cunning or Coincidence? to Egyptian Mau

Below are some comments. This page was first written about 12 years ago. I have reviewed it and republished it today may 22nd 2022.

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A Cat’s Cunning or Coincidence?

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Apr 04, 2011
Yes, cats are Highly Intelligent!
by: Chandra hasu

I have a pet cat, and He is very Intelligent. He employs all its methods on me to get extra food. when He is hungry and while i am sitting it jumps onto my thighs and reaches my chin.It brushes its head on my cheek indicating it wants more.

A very funny incident happened to me with my pet cat. I was sleeping on my bed and he jumped on me, I was so scared as it happened all so fast and unknowingly my hand hit him. Poor little thing,fell down. I felt very bad and went towards him, believe me it was expecting my apology and sympathy. It meowed painfully and came to me staring with its wide eyes open. I took him in my arms and put him beside me on my bed. I am sure my hand didn’t hit him hard but He acted like a kid expecting sympathy and sorry from me. The funny part is after 2 minutes He was running and playing all over. Where has the pain gone!…ha ha ha my cat deserves an Oscar for this……

Jan 12, 2010
the inteligent mau
by: ALF

hi belif it they are smater then you can imaging ,mine can open anny draw in the house,come and help me wash dishes ,floor, they like to hide around a corner wen you walk pst they jump on you foot,pluse many more stunts they do.

Oct 14, 2009
The better story
by: Finn FRode, Denmark

Hi Phil. He clearly felt that particular bag so interesting that it was worth coming back for. Whether it was the rattling, the smell or something deeper than that, you’ll probably never know.
A cat’s brain works different from ours, but they are very skilled at observing and do sometimes make their own deductions from that. The idea that he figured out something sure makes the better story, doesn’t it? 😉
By the way – he is a great looking cat. Those Maus are so elegant.

Oct 14, 2009
The unknowable mind of a cat
by: Phil

Hi Finn, I’m sure you’re right – however, by wondering whether it was a ‘coincidence’, I meant that of all the bags to bring back and empty around the garden, it was a bag of birdseed, scattered around by the one of my three cats who has the strongest hunting instincts! I love to imagine that he thought it all through, but as you say, who could ever really know?

Oct 13, 2009
The prosaic explanation
by: Finn Frode, Denmark

Hi Phil. It’s hardly a coincidence since Napoleon remembered about the bag and returned for it later.
He may somehow have associated the smell of bird seeds with the birds themselves – maybe from stalking at the feeding area. So catching the bag felt almost as if he made a real kill.
I do however lean towards a much more prosaic explanation – bags are quite interesting for cats and if theres something rattling in them even more so.
But then again – many amazing things go on the the minds of our cats, so who knows… 😉

Oct 12, 2009
Love the post
by: Michael

Hi Phil. Thanks a lot for this great story. I wonder if other visitors have seen this sort of thing before.

I think it certainly possible that it is deliberate. There seems no other reason really and it is a learned process, through observation and we know that kittens learn through observing their mothers. Kitten Development

We also know that cats have a level of intelligence that often goes unrecognised. Cat Intelligence

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