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Mouser Cat

Photo: © Cobalt123 reproduced under creative commons

The mouser cat discharged his part of the bargain those many thousands of years ago when farmers entered into a social contract with domesticated wild cats. The cat caught the rodents and the farmer provided protection and the certainty of food and shelter.

Is it still worth considering adopting a domestic cat as a mouser, a cat that keeps the local rodent population down?

We know that cats, domestic or wild, have an innate instinct to hunt, whether they are hungry or not. Farmers discovered this when they thought that keeping their cats hungry would make them better hunters – it didn’t.

There would seem to be two major factors which govern whether your cat will be a good mouser cat.

Photo: © Sean Dreilinger

Firstly, cats differ substantially in their personal characteristics. Some cats will hunt incessantly and successfully. Others will barely get going.

Take my girl cat. She will get involved initially in a hunt but lose interest. This is just a personal characteristic. I have, though, never seen or lived with a modern day cat that spends a lot of the time mousing.

This is probably because there aren’t that many mice around and the cats that I have lived with are not that way inclined. You can’t tell if a cat is a keen hunter until you get to know him.

The second factor must be the nurture element (the cat’s early experiences) that creates a cats personal characteristics. Cats these days are often cosseted and are very comfortable. Scant motivation therefore to get off the backside to find food. The kitten will have had little training from mother. In short, this highly effective hunting skill is very gradually being “detuned” in my opinion.

Although, there have been some very effective cat mousers. These relate to cats usually living some tens of years ago. The lifestyle of both humans and domestic cats was very different then – much more basic and natural, and therefore a more suitable climate under which the cat’s natural hunting skills could flourish.

Apparently a UK cat living in Lancashire (Northern England), over his lifespan of 23 years, killed 22,000 mice. That’s almost 3 per day. It would seem that this cat relied on his hunting to sustain himself to a large extent.

The champion mouser cat , however, caught an average of 5-6 rats a day for 6 years, apparently. This would have been a special combination of supply (of rats) and demand (the cats).

Photo: © JoseFernandes

Of course, in adopting a cat you take responsibility for her over her lifetime. You can’t take a poor hunter back as unfit for purpose. So, I’d recommend getting some form of high tec equipment to keep the rodent population down or just learn to live with them. Better still take pro-active action and remove the source of the attraction for mice – accessible food.


  • Own Knowledge
  • Cat Watching
  • Photographs reproduced under creative commons

From Mouser Cat to Cat Facts

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.

View Comments

  • My girl kitty "Sugar Pop" (striped tortoise shell) was a world champion caliber mouser. She caught and dispatched nine (9) unfortunate mice in one day at our freshly unshuttered summer place. She has departed to the Great Kitty Kibble Pile in the sky these many years, but I remember her for ever!

    • Wow. That might be a world record ;) We should see a photo. You might try uploading one using the uploader on the home page. Thanks for sharing.

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