Q: My cat is always bringing me dead gophers. Why does he do this? How should I respond?

 

A: Cats are known for bringing “presents” to their people.

Why do cats hunt for us? They are natural predators, of course, and it’s instinctive for them to bring their prey to a safe place. In the wild, leopards drag their kill up into trees so it will be safe from other animals and they can munch on it at their leisure. Our domestic cats choose their own home, and sometimes their own food dish, as the best place to securely deposit their kill.

Of course, we can’t get into their heads, fascinating though it would be, but they may be acting out the instinct to nurture us and to provide us with food. Maybe they are trying to teach us to hunt, as they would a kitten. Or it could just be that they’re saying, “Hey, could you fix this for dinner tonight?”

Be polite when your cat brings you the gift of a dead mouse or other critter. Praise him for being such a good hunter, and then try to distract him while — ideally — someone else disposes of the carcass.

If your cat is a great hunter, there’s little you can do to prevent his offerings. You can try attaching a bell to his collar to warn prey of his approach. But if you want to stop the behavior entirely, you’ll have to keep him indoors.

 

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