Cats are opportunistic hunters, so they rarely pass off an opportunity to hunt and kill, even just for fun. This is especially evident in domestic cats who, unlike wild cats, don’t have the chance to go out hunting.
Despite displaying very docile and affectionate behavior, cats are supreme predators, and their hunting instincts are triggered very easily. They are also considered apex predators, meaning that they will chase after just about anything from frogs, insects, squirrels, and even mice.
The relationship between cats and squirrels is a predator-prey one, where squirrels are natural prey for cats.
Most cats can and will catch a squirrel for playtime, but that doesn’t mean the cat won’t eventually eat the dead squirrel out of necessity.
Cats are very companionable and loving, but they can also be maliciously cunning. A cat is a very enthusiastic and avid hunter, reflected by its predatory instincts.
They prefer rodents when hunting more than other animals, which is why squirrels fall victim to cats a lot. It is the cat’s nature to run after anything small and furry that moves, and to them, squirrels are a perfect snack.
Do Cats Eat Squirrels?
Squirrels are naturally small creatures, and as they don’t automatically trigger their protective maternal instincts, they are easy prey. However, cats catch fewer squirrels compared to animals like mice, small rodents, and voles.
This is because squirrels are faster, and they climb better than cats, making it easy to escape the hunts. Cats are wired to hunt, so it isn’t right for cat owners to discourage them when they need to hunt in the wild.
Hunting squirrels, among other animals, is a cat’s natural predatory instinct, and cats don’t necessarily go after squirrels because they are hungry.
Cats are natural predators, and they are born to hunt means that they run after anything that moves. Regardless of whether the cat is well fed at home or not, they can’t resist going out hunting, primarily if they are constantly provided with the same thing.
If your cat has a strong hunting instinct, it’s advisable to go to the vet to check for any health problems as squirrels can pass various diseases to cats.
Domesticated cats hunt squirrels mainly for the thrill of it, and as they already have cat food at home, they only kill to eat dead squirrels if they like its taste.
Do Cats Kill Squirrels?
Domestic and feral cats are predatory, which means that they’ll go hunting outside from time to time. Cats hunt and kill all types of small animals, from birds, rodents, rabbits, squirrels, reptiles, and even insects.
These ferocious predators have this instinct, and indoor-outdoor cats fed with cat food and scraps are the most inclined to hunt, kill and eat other rodents, birds, squirrels, and lizards.
Cats and squirrels aren’t considered enemies, but as instinctual predators, and with an opportunity, cats won’t hesitate to kill a squirrel for dinner.
It is almost impossible for cats to resist the thrill of chasing a squirrel when it runs away. While feral cats are more likely to kill squirrels for food, domestic cats, on the other hand, kill when their predatory instincts are provoked and activated.
Adult squirrels are in less danger from cats compared to baby squirrels.
Domestic cats mostly hunt baby squirrels, while feral cats go after adult squirrels, more intelligent and faster than most household cats.
Cats hunt and kill squirrels based on their personalities. While some will want to roam at night happily, others prefer the thrill of hunting, and the cat’s confidence gets better with each capture.
According to a study, feral cats that hunt for food are most likely to catch the most common prey in that specific area.
Can A Cat Die From Eating A Squirrel?
Cats are natural predators, so however hard you try to maintain a strict pet diet, the animal instincts come, and your cat eats a wild squirrel or rat.
Hunting wild animals and prey like squirrels can be very consequential to cats, especially domesticated ones.
There are some reasons why letting your cat out to hunt rodents such as squirrels isn’t the best idea, and there are some unpleasant repercussions.
Cats end up killing an incredible number of prey, both animals and birds, annually, but it is also possible for the wrong prey to end up killing your cat.
Hunting is a challenging sport, and some aggressive animals are prone to attack when cornered, resulting in bites and scratches injuries.
Rodents such as squirrels can bite or scratch a cat, which could be dangerous, especially if the squirrel is infected with bacteria and diseases. Cats tire out their entire prey by chasing them around to alleviate their own risk of injury.
In addition to the physical effects, wild prey sometimes carries diseases transmitted to your feline friends. Poisoned and sick prey is easy to hunt and kill, but at the same time, it poses a danger to your cats if consumed.
Cats may consume poisonous bait or other toxic substances, which is dangerous to the cat’s health.
Squirrels’ bodies are host carriers of several infectious diseases such as rabies, the plague, encephalitis, and leptospirosis, which can be transmitted to cats.
Squirrels pass these diseases to cats when eaten, so you might think twice before letting your cats eat squirrels.
Another danger of cats eating squirrels is parasites, which infest wild creatures like squirrels a lot. Such external parasites like fleas, ticks, mites, and internal parasites like worms can be consumed by a cat after a successful hunt, presenting a major risk.
The bacteria and parasitic insects found in the squirrel’s fur can cause problems with the immune and intestinal systems.
Cats are very friendly and playful members of our families. This means that just like when one person has flu, there are high chances of other family members getting sick from diseases contracted from cats’ ingestion of squirrels.
If your cat eats a squirrel, watch for any clinical signs, and if you suspect anything is wrong, consult a veterinarian to avert the risks of your cat getting sick or dying.
Why Do Cats Eat Squirrels Heads?
Cats are natural hunters, which means that what they do to their prey is simply an instinctual act. In some instances, cats eat part of the squirrel and leave the bushy tail, and in other cases, these furry animals eat just the head and leave out the rest of the body.
Squirrel heads are heavy in nutrients, which is probably why cats like them so much.
Cats are very enticed by fresh prey, and the proteins and the grey components making up the squirrel’s head and brain, and the latter are very rich in nutrients.
Squirrels constantly eat nuts, which makes their heads flavored with the food they last ate, which is appealing to cats.
Cats get protein from the tongue and the eyes of squirrels too, but unfortunately, a squirrel’s mouth contains a lot of bacteria that are dangerous to your cat’s health.
Will House Cats Kill Squirrels?
As we mentioned earlier, cats are naturally opportunistic hunters, which means that they won’t pass up an opportunity to hunt and kill fresh prey.
This is especially true for house cats who don’t often hunt as much as wild cats do. Domesticated cats spend most of their time at home, so they have little or no experience when it comes to hunting.
They tend to hunt only baby squirrels as the older ones are too fast and smart for them.
The older squirrels are too quick, dangerous, athletic, and very aggressive, and being great climbers, they easily escape from any attempt to be hunted by house cats.
Domestic cats have been found to kill squirrels, but the percentage of successful house cat squirrel hunters is low.
House cats might get an urge to prey on squirrels when allowed outside, but that depends on the specific cat’s character, the squirrel, and the circumstances.
When it comes to hunting for house cats, it is instinctive that the reward matches the effort. As such, house cats can feel the urge to chase after adult squirrels but pass it off after evaluating up the risk-reward equation.
Ground squirrels are the perfect size for prey items, especially for house cats, and as rodents, they are a cat’s natural prey. In addition, the small, ill, or inexperienced squirrels are vulnerable, thus a potential prey for house cats.
However, the majority of house cats won’t and can’t go hunting and eating dead animals. Squirrels are zoonotic animals so that they can carry and transmit several diseases to their predators.
House cats have a very weak immune system compared to wild ones, so their bodies might not fight off diseases as they should.
If your feline friend eats a squirrel at home, consult a veterinarian to ascertain there aren’t any diseases or infections contracted.
Do Cats Kill GREY Squirrels?
Grey squirrels are big predators for bird nests, and so are red squirrels, and they are mostly found in a range of habitats like parks, urban areas, gardens, and generally any broad-leaved woodland.
Grey squirrels are not territorial by instinct, which makes them fall prey and are dominant to cats due to the pecking order.
They are considered a pest species and killers of wildlife as they damage trees and transmit a virus that has greatly reduced the population of red squirrels.
Grey squirrels can be found mostly during the early and late hours of the day, and they are scarce during hot summer and winter days.
They are prone to predation by domestic and feral cats with wild ancestors, owls, humans, dogs, and hawks.