You want to adopt a cat which is less likely to hunt than normal

In general, cat owners don’t like the fact that their domestic cat companions hunt. Clearly, I’m referring to cats allowed outside. A lot of cat owners also want their cats to go outside so that they are mentally stimulated and can express their natural desires. But they don’t like the fact that they kill animals. The domestic cat is a top predator. This is one of those great dichotomies or conundrums with which cat owners struggle. And there is the wildlife conservation issue which looms large as well.

There is partial solution. It is not a great one but the information I am going to provide on this page might help a person who wishes to adopt a cat that is less inclined to hunt even though they are allowed outside.

You want to adopt a cat that is less likely to hunt and kill
You want to adopt a cat that is less likely to hunt and kill. Infographic by MikeB
Until September 7th I will give 10 cents to an animal charity for every comment. It is a way to help animal welfare without much effort at no cost. Comments help this website too, which is about animal welfare.

Personality equates with predation

It’s all about the cat’s personality. Although the information is based upon a study you could argue that it is also based upon common sense. And you will find the same general relationship between personality and behaviour among humans.

Cats with “low levels of neuroticism or high levels of extraversion hunt wild prey more frequently” in the words of the scientist, Marion Cordonnier, who wrote the report. To put that differently, domestic cats which are shy or timid and are therefore less extrovert and confident, are less likely to hunt prey when allowed outside. A fairly straightforward conclusion.

In contrast, concerning the predation of birds and small mammals such as rodents, domestic cats with “high levels of extraversion (here, intelligence and perseverance) had significantly higher frequencies of prey brought home”. To put that in different words as well, it is saying that confident cats which are more likely to be extrovert, are also more likely to want to go outside the home and attack birds and mice. And we know that often – but not always – domestic cats like to bring their mice home in their jaws because they are bringing their prey back to the natal den to consume.

The study authors also stated that:

“British cat owners who wanted to manage their cats’ predation were often concerned that it would compromise their pets’ welfare.” And that “the majority of surveyed owners ‘valued outdoor access for cats and opposed confinement to prevent hunting.'”

This is a reference to the conflicting objectives of French cat owners and I suspect cat owners in many other countries. They want their cats to be happy and to do what they want to do to have fun and therefore be mentally stimulated but at the same time they don’t want them to kill animals. It’s never going to happen because as mentioned the domestic cat is a fantastic predator. It’s a constant source of anguish for many cat owners this conflict in objectives.

A place in our hearts for the timid cat (wallflower)

What I’m suggesting in this short article is that cat owners can do something about that difficulty by considering adopting a cat that the scientists describe as neurotic which is an extreme description because what they mean is more timid than average.

This somewhat goes against the general trend because normally people who want to adopt a cat go for the more confident cat. The reason is that, for example in shelters, the more confident cat tends to interact better with people. They come forward rather than hide at the back of their cage.

But there is a distinct place for the more timid cat and I think there are big advantages in adopting them. Not only will they kill less animals, they will be more homely and they are less likely to be killed in a road traffic accident. They are less likely to approach a stranger outside. These are all positives.

In the same vein, there is also a strong argument for people to adopt the more elderly cat because they, too, are less likely to want to hunt and go outside and endanger themselves (see the tweet at base of article – a nice story).

Positive spin-off

As wallflower cats are more likely to be left behind at shelters my suggestion tackles this problem simultaneously.

Purebred cats less likely to attack animals!

I’ve mentioned shelter cats. I favour adopting a shelter cat and these are nearly always non-purebred. However, if an adopter wanted to go for a purebred cat that is less likely to prey upon animals, they might consider the Ragdoll, Persian and British shorthair cats. These have been found to be more agreeable, less dominant and less extroverted than other breeds of cat. They have lower levels of activity and aggression. These point to a lower desire to hunt if allowed outside. Although, it has to be said, that it is unlikely that they will be allowed outside!

Notice that they were found to be ‘more agreeable’. The researchers, in their own words, “observed that cats with low levels of agreeableness (here, friendliness to people) and high levels of dominance had higher frequencies of bringing home birds but not small mammals”.

Gender

They found no difference between the genders in this study. Neither did age affect the results except that there must be an age effect because older cats become more inactive. Also, I would add that it is more likely that a young male cat will be more confident than a similarly aged female. Or is that sexist!

Adopting and old cat – GOOD

The study title: “Pet cat personality linked to owner-reported predation frequency”. Link: https://doi.org/10.1002/ece3.9651

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