With over 500 million domestic cats in the world, as pet owners, we like to discuss cats as being natural rodent prevention. For those who own a cat, there is a high likelihood that we have been presented with a present from their most recent indoor or outdoor hunt.
For some cats, it could be a bug or leaf, while other cats present a dead mouse, rat, or some other type of small animal.
Although we may have received this special gift, do cats really keep mice away? Keep reading to find out!
Does a Cat Keep Mice Away?
Cats consciously and unconsciously work hard to keep mice away. They vigorously track and hunt a variety of small rodents, including mice and rats. The smell of cats around a house will lower the probability of a mouse moving in.
Are Mice Afraid of Cats?
Cats, rats, and other predatorial animals naturally produce a chemical signal that frightens mice. U.S.-based scientists determined that when mice detect specific proteins located in cat saliva that they naturally react with fear.
Known as Mups, these proteins act on cells located in the mouse’s vomeronasal organ, which is a special sensory organ.
This study offers proof that mice and many other animals have developed receptors that can detect chemical signals from predatorial species. The vomeronasal organ is comprised of neurons that detect chemical signals.
The organ then transfers signals to the part of the brain related to memory, hormonal release, and emotion.
In most mammals, the receptors are detecting pheromones, which are chemical messengers that transport information between those of the same species. These pheromones have a direct impact on different animals’ behaviors.
However, this study found that the neurons in the vomeronasal organ were stimulated by chemical signals emanating from their predators. These proteins result in mice displaying freezing or remaining close to the ground as they investigate their environment, both signs of fear.
Do Cat Sounds Scare Mice?
Mice are frightened by sonic and ultrasonic sounds, as well as sounds produced by predators, one of which is a cat. A male or female mouse can detect a cat from far distances within the home, despite never meeting this predator.
Having a house cat is an excellent form of pest control to help us get rid of mice from our home.
Does Cat Litter Keep Mice Away?
While clean cat litter does not necessarily keep mice away, the scent of cat waste from the litter box will keep them away. Mice associate the smell of animal waste with predators, thus causing them to flee.
Therefore, we can scoop used cat litter and scatter it around our home’s perimeter. If we suffer from a mouse infestation, this is an excellent method of driving them out of the house.
Here’s the caveat to this idea. If the mouse is smart, it will drive them away, and, in most instances, this is the case because they don’t want to become lunch.
Mice are naturally conditioned to turn away when they catch a whiff of cat urine. However, mice exposed to the chemical configuration of cat pee early in life are less likely to run away because of this scent.
The issue is mice form a physiological response to a specific compound within the urine. Neurons pick up the cat litter and urine smell, thus triggering a reaction that causes stress hormones to rise.
If mice are exposed to these compounds at a young age, they will react differently when older. It is possible for mice to completely lose their aversion to the smell of cat pee.
As babies, mice have a high level of environmental sensitivity, so additional neuron receptors will detect the odor, which releases additional stress hormones.
Male mice exposed to cat urine have proven to become more aggressive, and the female mouse in heat exposed to the same pee spends more time searching for males also exposed.
Therefore, cat urine can be an amazing mouse aphrodisiac but most likely won’t cause them to run toward the scent.
Does the Smell of a Cat Keep Mice Away?
The scent of cats makes specific areas of our homes less desirable for mice. In general, we will see fewer mice in rooms where cats frequent and have better rodent control with a cat in the house.
However, cat scent won’t keep mice completely away from our homes. Even households with active hunting cats could experience mice moving in because there are many advantages to our homes for a mouse – it’s warm, easy to find food, and can have access to high-calorie and high-quality foods.
Generally, houses with cats are considerably safer than being in nature around the clock. While cats are a dangerous predator to mice, there is no threat of snakes, owls, and other predators within our homes.
Well, hopefully not! To ensure our cats act as mouse deterrents, it is important to give them access to the entire house and not leave any food types loose around the home.
Leaving a cat in a single or just several rooms is not an effective tactic for keeping mice away.
How do you Get Rid of Mice When you Have a Cat?
Having a cat on our property is one of the best and most natural methods of eliminating mice since it is allowing nature to take care of itself through the cycle of life. Remember, getting a cat is a major commitment, and they are a new family member, not just a killing machine.
That means we need to give them food, affection, playtime, and various other cat-related physical items to keep them alive.
While cats are excellent hunters, some are just looking to play with the mouse and do not have a hunting mindset.
That means our cats may toy with the mouse constantly and those that are hunting often bring us a little bundle of joy presents as trophies to show us their catch of the day or week.
There is no specific method of teaching our cats to get rid of mice. Instead, it is best to let them use their natural instincts to search and destroy.
With not all cats being efficient mousers, we want to adopt a kitty that has spent time outside and is an effective hunter. In rural areas, barn cars are excellent at stalking and hunting mice.
To find the best cat to do the job, contact the local shelter or humane society to learn more about their background.
The professionals at these organizations can help us find exactly the animal we are searching for. It is also rumored that the female cat tends to be a better mouser than the male cat so keep that in mind during the adoption process.
Why Do Some Cats Play with Mice?
Hunting is considered a fun activity for cats, especially when they are given food daily. While scientists do not know the exact emotion that encourages cats to chase, play with, and bat at things, they seem to enjoy doing it.
Cats are apex predators, so hunting is the best activity they can perform from a physical exercise and emotional aspect. It provides them with calories and keeps them fit and hydrated with each catch.
This is important since the modern housecat descended from desert cats, hence the reason they have a prime instinct to consume water. For thousands of years, cats received hydration from the food they ate since they were living in an arid climate.
Hunting gives them a chance to exercise their physical and mental talents. Since most cats aren’t hungry or thirsty, there is less motivation to stop playing and get straight down to business.
The result is mice are more valuable to house cats as a stimulating and fun toy than as a meal. For this reason, cats seem disappointed when they accidentally kill the mouse they are toying with because a dead mouse doesn’t provide the stimulating adventure as a live one.
This doesn’t mean we should start giving mice to our cats as a toy. This is unnecessarily cruel to the mouse, and they could get away to reproduce in our house.
Then we have a mouse infestation that could bring structural issues and disease into our home.
We can never count on a wild mouse being healthy. The feeder mice at the pet store is a much better option for our cat but are meant for snakes and lizards.