In this video we see a mouse chasing a domestic cat. It appears to me that the cat is genuinely being chased and not playing. The cat wants to get away from the mouse while the mouse is persistently chasing him/her. Why is it happening? It almost seems that the cat has lost his soul. He has completely lost an essential element in his character, the major element of a domestic cat’s character which is the ability to hunt. Domestic cats are top level predators and wonderful hunters. And here we see the primary prey of the domestic cat turning the tables completely and becoming a predator. Or that is what it looks like.
I must say that it is baffling. My first impression is that this cat and mouse may be buddies. We know that there are many examples of domestic cats being buddies with unusual species of animal because they were raised together. Therefore perhaps the mouse wants to play and the cat doesn’t. It may be as simple as that. However, I don’t believe that this is the reason.
An alternative scenario is that the cat has genuinely lost his soul! He has lost his ability to hunt his primary prey. He has lost something which he should have inherited in his genes and be passing on in the same way (if he wasn’t neutered or if she wasn’t spayed). I think this is unlikely. Cats instinctively know what a mouse looks like and how to catch it. Domestic cats are sometimes frightened of unusual objects. A lot of us are aware of the cucumber stunt. This is when a person puts a cucumber behind a domestic cat while he’s eating and then when he turns around to see the cucumber he becomes terrified. This is because the object is strange and maybe threatening. It may be alive in the eyes of the cat and so he runs as a defensive measure.
Perhaps domestication will gradually erode the innate, inherited skills of the domestic cat so one day all domestic cats will be like this one: running away from prey. You could say that this is already happening 10,000 years after the first domestic cat appeared.
There is another possibility and it is perhaps the most likely. Mice infected with toxoplasmosis lose their instinctive fear of the smell of cats. The effect may be permanent. It seems that the parasite permanently alters a specific brain function in mice. Toxoplasma gondii removes the rodent’s innate fear of cats. This has been established in research. This loss of fear remains even months after infection. There may be a permanent structural change. Most infected mice are mildly attracted to the scent of a cat.
This brings us to a lot of discussion, some months ago, about the alleged dramatic effect that toxoplasmosis has on humans causing behavioural changes and schizophrenia. Many people don’t believe this. After all there are millions of cat owners. If there was a real ongoing risk that cat owners would develop schizophrenia from their cat’s poo I think we would have heard a lot more about it by now. There would be hundreds of thousands of schizophrenic cat owners running around half crazed causing mayhem but alas no, this is not what is happening. It is more likely that schizophrenic people are prone to picking up the parasite rather than the parasite causing schizophrenia.
Anyway, to return to the mouse chasing the cat. My preference as to the reason why this happening is that the cat is not buddies with the mouse but unsure about the mouse’s presence and therefore she has lost, on this occasion, her predatory instincts or her desire to hunt. It is impossible to judge whether the mouse has been infected with toxoplasmosis.
The reason why I believe that these two are not friends is because the woman of the house, the cat’s owner I will presume, is herself fearful of the mouse or at least she gives that impression. She lets out a couple of screams especially at the end. This indicates that she is not used to having the mouse around her home which then precludes the possible scenario that the mouse was raised with the cat. Also it seems to me that the video was made in the Middle East or perhaps North Africa. I am making this judgement from the appearance of the kitchen and by the name of the videomaker. In these countries it would be unlikely that a person would raise a cat and a mouse together to ensure that they became friends.