Why Is My Cat Hunting So Much?

siamese cat hunting in garden

Is your cat suddenly hunting more? Do you have a cat that hunts more than other cats you have kept in the past, more than other cats in the household, or more than your neighbor’s cats? Are you wondering “why is my cat hunting so much?” 

The answer may be more straightforward than you thought and you may be able to reduce their hunting. Unfortunately, you may not be able to completely stop their hunting without draconian action.

Check out the most common reasons why your cat is hunting more than usual :

Your Not Feeding Them Enough

close up of a cat eating chunky wet cat food from a purple bowl

Hunting is not entirely hunger-related but it does play into hunting frequency. People have known for some time that if you underfeed a cat it is likely to hunt for food. This is handy if you have a vermin problem, cats will hunt mice, voles, rabbits, moles, rats, shrews, and birds. You simply bring a cat in and give it half rations and let instinct take over!

You might well think that your cat is eating well and therefore should not be inclined to hunt. But if the food you feed your cat is not meat-based high protein low carb cat food (most likely to be wet food) or if you live in a multi-cat home it could be that your cat is not eating well enough. 

This study found that when a cat was well fed on a high protein meat diet their hunting dropped off dramatically by as much as 36%! However, feeding alone will not bring an end to your cat’s hunting – just reduce it significantly. 

So, if your cat is hunting more than usual ask yourself are they eating properly?

They Are Bored

a tabby cat stalking a toy mouse

If food is not the problem it could be that your cat is just bored. It would seem that cats hunt for entertainment as well as due to hunger. 

You might think that hunting for entertainment sounds pretty implausible – but research has shown that if your cat has 5-10 minutes of dedicated playtime per day where they chase toys that simulate prey objects then their hunting has been found to reduce by as much as 25%. 

This kind of infers that some of that real-world hunting is simply entertainment rather than hunger-based.

You Are Feeding Them With A Puzzle Feeder

Many cat guardians have cats that eat too quickly and vomit or they are simply away from home all day and want to provide some stimulation to their cat. In both situations, they can end up using a cat puzzle feeder to either slow the cat down so they don’t regurgitate food or provide the cat with some stimulation. In both instances, the puzzle feeder works well.

The problem is that cats who use puzzle feeders end up hunting really effectively. In fact, they hunt 33% more effectively than previously! That’s significant. Could it be that you have inadvertently created a killer?

No one is really sure why this seems to happen but it could be either that your cat is getting hungry using the puzzle feeder so the hunger factor is kicking in or they could be developing more novel and successful hunting techniques as a result of the brain game the puzzle feeders give them. 

Increased Opportunity To Hunt

a black and white cat hunting three pigeons

If your cat has suddenly started hunting much more could it be that they now have an abundance of opportunities compared to previously. 

Often, springtime brings an abundance of naive prey that is easy to hunt but even periods following rainfall can bring about an increased opportunity for your cat as local wildlife feeds following rain.

Your cat might have sussed out these opportune periods and be making hay whilst the sunshines!

However, the increased opportunity is not just about an abundance of prey. Cats are mostly ambush predators that learn what to hunt and how to hunt at an early age. They even develop a taste for certain prey items so your cat might be a mouser or an avian specialist. 

But here’s the thing…even though cats are solitary hunters, cats that don’t learn how to hunt from their mother can often pick up hunting skills from watching other cats hunt successfully. Could it be that your cat has developed a new, lucrative, technique off a neighboring cat? Has a new cat been seen in the neighborhood and have they inspired your cat?

They Have A Strong Prey Drive – Yours Is Prolific

a tabby cat hunting a sparrow

Hunting is thought to be motivated by hunger, entertainment, and instinct. The instinct bit is the involuntary part. Your cat simply can’t help hunting – it just happens. They see a movement or catch a whiff and the inner hunter takes over all faculties.

But, not all cats are as good as each other at hunting. Some cats have a greater ability, a wider range of tastes, and a more highly developed instinct and are simply more prolific and effective. Your cat might be hunting lots more compared to other cats because they are the star quarterback of the cat world. 

Cat hunting instincts are honed very early in life. At about 6-7 weeks of age, the mother cat will bring prey to the kittens and will eat it in front of them to teach them what is edible prey and what is not. 

She will often bring live prey back to the kittens and demonstrate hunting and killing techniques. Clearly, the mothers hunting tastes are a big influence on your cat – but if they miss out they can still pick up techniques from other cats.

If your cat is always hunting successfully it could be that its mother really had her game on point and your cat is a finely honed instinctual killer!

What Can I Do To Kerb Their Hunting Activity

young tabby cat playing with a mouse

So we have discussed some of the likely reasons why your cat is hunting so much or has suddenly started hunting more than usual but is there anything you can do to curb the inner hunter in your cat?

Well, as you can probably guess there are some tactics you can use to reduce the hunting effectiveness of your cat.

You can use these basic tactics:

Lock Them In 

Feed Them Correctly

Routine Playtime

Get A Bird-Safe Collar

Ditch The Puzzle Feeder

Check out this article on how to stop your cat from killing wildlife to find which method works best and what you can expect. But be warned, only one technique can fully stop your cat from hunting!