Categories: diet

Do domestic cats eat rats?

My cat catches but won’t eat a rat. Screenshot.

Yes, domestic cats eat rats but it depends upon the individual cat and how hungry he or she is. I would argue that domestic cats are less likely to eat a rat compared to a mouse. This is partly because they are less likely to catch a rat compared to a mouse. Rats can be quite aggressive and can harm cats whereas mice are easy prey. I once videoed my cat bringing in what I believe is a rat into the home and he wouldn’t eat it. In fact he has caught two rats, brought them both into the home and he didn’t eat either of them whereas he always eats mice that he brings into the home. I don’t know whether this is significant. It probably isn’t.


Perhaps the rats that he has caught were poisoned by a neighbour and therefore they smelled bad. Or perhaps rats per se smell bad or different to mice. The big difference between rats and mice, I would say, is that some rats are quite large and you will see feral and domestic gas backing off when approached by a rat. Once again, it depends upon the individual cat. A hungry feral cat will probably dive in and attack a rat whereas a well fed domestic cat might just run away despite hunger not playing a part in the predatory motivation of cats.

The rat is on the menu of prey animals for a domestic cat and therefore, everything being equal and if the cat is hungry, they should eat it. The sceptics and the people who don’t like cats argue that cats are no good at deterring rats. You’ll find that ornithologists and general cat haters say this. They say it as a counterargument to people like me who promote the idea of working cats in industrial establishment keeping down the rat population. I like to think that unwanted and socialised feral cats can be put to use which raises their profile in the eyes of the general public.

If domestic cats can be put to use like this it helps to save the lives of unwanted cats. Perhaps domestic cats have become softer over the last century a bit like people! There is a story about a female tabby cat who lived at the White City Stadium in London. Over a period of only six years she caught no fewer than 12,480 rats which works out at a daily average of 5 to 6. A formidable achievement which supports the argument that cats were domesticated to support farmers in keeping down the rat population.

Domestic cats are inherently a bit cautious even with mice. This is why they play with mice before they kill them. They poke and prod them; slap them to subdue them before administering the killing bite if it’s needed. The rat is obviously bigger and more dangerous and aggressive. This will deter a domestic cat. I’d suggest that it is quite uncommon for a domestic cat to bring a rat into the home, certainly in relation to the number of mice brought in.

Michael Broad

Hi, I'm a 71-year-old retired solicitor (attorney in the US). Before qualifying I worked in many jobs including professional photography. I have a girlfriend, Michelle. I love nature, cats and all animals. I am concerned about their welfare.

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