Can I stop my cat from hunting?
There are many reasons why a cat may hunt, the main one being that hunting is a natural instinct for cats. Because it’s a natural instinct, this means it’s not advisable to try and stop your cat hunting altogether. However, there are lots of ways to direct that instinct into playtime with you, and other less grisly outlets.
Why does my cat hunt?
As a predatory species, cats would naturally hunt for their food in the wild. However, your domesticated cat doesn’t necessarily hunt because it’s hungry. Some cats are more likely to hunt than other cats and this may be down to their personality and experiences. For example, a bold, confident cat with lots of experience of going outdoors may need more than their basic ‘resources’ to feel satisfied and are therefore more likely to hunt for stimulation. Alternatively, a shy, quiet cat who is not a big fan of the outdoors may be happier being at home where all their essentials are nearby.
It can sometimes be quite unpleasant when a cat brings home their prey, but cats naturally take anything they catch to a safe environment, so you could perhaps take it as a compliment that they find their home safe and secure!
To find out more about the hunting instinct in cats, you can read our full article on Why does my cat hunt?
So, can I stop my cat from hunting?
Hunting is a natural, normal behaviour for cats. They get a great deal of stimulation and pleasure from it. All cats have the ability to hunt including those who live purely indoors or choose not to go outside very often. Stopping a cat from hunting can actually be detrimental to their welfare and potentially cause them to become frustrated, especially those cats who are highly motivated to hunt.
Although it’s not possible to stop your cat from hunting entirely, here are some top tips to help minimise your cat’s need to hunt whilst keeping your cat occupied closer to home:
- Hide portions of dry food around the house to encourage ‘foraging’.
- Use timed feeders, slow feeders or puzzle feeders with small portions of food to replicate the small, regular meals cats are adapted to.
- Feed your cat food brands with high nutritional and meat contents (if okay medically for your cat – please check with your vet first).
- Introduce variety into your cat’s food where possible (again, if okay medically).
- Encourage your cat to play in the way they would hunt, but make the “kill” a treat or some food.
- Make sure your house and outside space is set up to keep your cat interested and stimulated. For more information check out our articles on how to make your home cat friendly and enriching and how to make your outside space cat friendly.
- Keep your cats engaged or give them things to do near home around dawn and dusk. These are the times when cats and their potential prey are most active. If possible, encourage your cat to stick around with you for entertainment rather than going out hunting by feeding them around these times, playing, or undertaking training, games etc.