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Nathalie Sari - Tiertraining & Verhaltensberatung

This article was written by TOBALIE in cooperation with Nathalie Sari - Tiertraining & Verhaltensberatung

Who doesn’t like to receive little presents once in a while? Small gifts are a sign of friendship and love, and this is also known in the animal world. Unfortunately, cats have a slightly different idea of what is suited as a gift for humans. It is very difficult for cats to understand why you don’t like a dead mouse, rat or bird for a present. Therefore you should always keep calm if you get unwanted cat gifts from your darling. It is a token of love!

Why your cat brings prey home

Even when the feeding bowl is full, your little friend will follow his natural hunting instinct and practice playing catch. As long as your treasure is allowed to go outside, it’s not unusual  discovering unwanted souvenirs in the apartment from time to time. Why is not fully clarified, but there are some conclusive presumptions:

  • Cats know from observation that humans do not hunt. Even the biggest weekend shopping trip does not count as hunting success for a cat. A cat explains this unwillingness to hunt through clumsiness. So the cat helps us with small food presents to show her appriciation.
  • This behaviour shows the strong social vein of cats. Through little gifts like that cat mothers teach their kittens to hunt and provide them with food. In this way cats also care for their favourite humans. In addition to hunting behaviour, kittens also learn the prey grab and the targeted killing bite from the half-dead animals brought along. Maybe our velvet paws just want to help us to become better hunters.
  • Therefore cats often make living prey gifts. Although the live prisoners are mainly taken for their own amusement, playing is fun at home too, cats also like to give their toys as presents. Older conspecifics, who are no longer fit enough for hunting themselves, are sometimes surprised by such little presents. Many cats have also a favourite playroom, where the prey cannot escape and they can play in peace.
  • The feeding place is always somewhere else than the killing place. Most of the time, after the prey has been caught, the cats look for a quiet and safe place where they can eat their meal undisturbed. In nature they could otherwise be easily attacked, as they are busy eating and do not keep a good eye on their enemies.

How do you stop cats from bringing mice into the house?

-Cool it, there are worse things!
-Don’t scold! Your darling doesn’t mean any harm.
-Let the cat be the cat! Don’t punish your darling for his instinct.

-Thank them with a little caress instead.
-Let the prey gift disappear as inconspicuously as possible at the next opportunity.

You can’t stop a cat that is allowed outdoors from hunting. If you don’t want prey in the house, you need to control your cat before you let it in. There are cat flaps that only open in one direction. You can also keep the doors in the house closed so that your cat only comes into the anteroom and has to be let into the house by you.

Can brought along animals be saved?

Even if you feel pity for the captured animals, it is a natural behaviour. Eating and being eaten up is the only way to keep nature in balance.
Gifts from cats are difficult to avoid. You can try to give your little cat friend a save place outside or inside the house, hoping he will use it. 

If you find an uninjured prey animal in the house, catch it carefully and release it unobserved in a safe place. If you find an injury, you can have the animal treated or let nature take its course. Your cat may eat its catch later. However, you should never touch the prey without gloves to prevent infection.

Don’t try to give the animal a “merciful death” if you have to take it away from your pet in return. A cat bite is in most cases the fastest way to release the prey from its suffering. Smaller birds and bats, usually die from the shock and can only be saved in very few cases

Green Rubin - Katzenangel

Die nachhaltige und langlebige Katzenangel aus Sisal und Holz.

How can you protect other animals?

If you are a proud owner of a garden and want to provide a safe home for all your other animal companions and neighbours, you can take certain precautions. You can use creative tricks to block the path of your playful cat to nesting sites, food dispensers, ponds and birdhouses and create small safety zones. Bird nests on trees, for example, can be protected by wide cuffs underneath the nesting places.

The most popular prey animals for cat gifts are:

  • Mice
  • Rats
  • Birds (these are rather difficult to catch because they can fly away quickly. That’s why most  cats concentrate on wingless food, also to avoid the hunting experience ending in frustration)
  • Bats
  • Rarely also rabbits
  • Sometimes frogs and insects
Katze jagt eine Maus


It is only natural that your darling cat wants to take care of you and brings gifts home from time to time herself. So if you find a half bitten bird on the doorstep or a living mouse in your house, don’t be angry with your sweetheart, its just a proof of love. Stay always calm in case of unwelcome presents and think thoroughly about how you can protect other animals without offending your pet. After all cats are showing their deep affection to us in this way.