A cat has natural hunter instincts that it can use to keep your house mouse-free. You can train a young kitten in the skills that it will need to hunt mice, and help it develop the speed and skill it needs to catch mice in your home. Untrained cats can tend to lose their mouser abilities, or grow lazy and unable to move quickly enough to catch mice. With the right training, your cat can help you control your mouse population. The ability to be a mouser is an instinctual quality in cats and cannot always be taught, but there are things you can do to develop these skills in cats who have those instincts.
Adopt a cat to be your pet, not to become a mouser. Consider your cat’s hunting abilities as an advantage, if it chooses to hunt. Remember that some cats are natural hunters, while others never learn the activity. Treat your cat with love and reward it for successful hunts with affection, petting your cat and playing with it.
Start your cat out when it is still a kitten because older cats that never learned how to hunt may not be willing to start. Play with your kitten using active, mobile toys, such as toy mice on strings or yarn. Actively play with your cat, using these toys. Get your cat moving and reward it for its playfulness. For instance, you may get on the floor with your cat and use a toy mouse to get your cat moving, rewarding it with affection when it catches the mouse. Use this kind of play to teach your cat to move quickly and to attack mice on your floor.
Reward your cat when it brings back a dead mouse. Avoid punishing or discouraging your cat for killing mice. Instead, reward your cat with the kind of affection it likes when it brings you a dead mouse. As an example, you may pick your cat up and let it spend 10 or 15 minutes on your lap, while you pet it, after it brings you a killed mouse.
Breed your successful mouser and keep a few of the kittens. Mother cats train their kittens to perform many of the same tricks that the parent performs, such as being a mouser. Use this generational training to ensure that your future cats will have the same understanding. Train the kittens in the same way you trained the parent, ensuring that the young cats have the speed and skill that their parents had.
It is not possible to teach every cat to be a mouser. The instinct to hunt must be present in the animal. These steps were developed to encourage the instinct to hunt and teach your cat to react quickly.
- "Cat Training in 10 Minutes"; Miriam Fields-Babineau; 2003
- Pictures of Cats: Mouser Cat
- Berkeley University; Getting a cat as a mouser; July 2002
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Kristyn Hammond has been teaching freshman college composition at the university level since 2010. She has experience teaching developmental writing, freshman composition, and freshman composition and research. She currently resides in Central Texas where she works for a small university in the Texas A&M system of schools.