Teaching your cat not to be a predator – Part 6

Have you ever been snuggled up cozily under a blanket, resting on the couch or in your bed, and decided to shift into a more comfortable position only to have your unsuspecting toes pounced upon by a prowling kitten? Many cat lovers are familiar with the preceding scenario. All cats are predators, born to hunt food for survival. These instincts, though lessened by thousands of years of domestication, are still very strong in even strictly indoor cats. While it is not possible to train or breed out all of their predatory behaviors, there are a few things we can do to mitigate the worst of them.

The first thing to pay attention to if you want to limit predatory behavior is the source from which you obtain your cat or kitten. If you’ve already gotten attached to your feline companion, there isn’t much you can do about this one. But if you’re still looking for an appropriate cat for your family, take these points into consideration.

First of all, hunting is a learned skill. While all cats have the instinct to chase and chew on small, moving objects, not all cats are good at actual hunting. Their choice of prey will also vary, and both are influenced the most by what the cat was taught to eat by its mother. If your cat was raised in a barn with parents who chase mice, your cat will be a mouser. If let outside, he will bring home mice, gophers, shrews, and even rats, and leave them on your doorstep. And if you love birds, the last thing you want to do is bring home a kitten who’s been trained to eat them.

The next point to note when acquiring a new cat is its breed. Some breeds of cat will have a greater predisposition toward hunting than others. Also, note the length of time the cat spent with its litter mates. A kitten who is taken from its siblings too early may not have the chance to learn how to hold back when playing.

The last consideration is age. Younger kittens have a lot of energy, and are more likely to pounce at every shadow or chase your cursor across the computer screen. A mature cat will tend to be more mellow and calm, and as it gets older may even completely ignore potential prey.

The next step; reducing hunting behavior inside the home. Every cat owner knows how tempting a shoelace or a hand under a blanket is for a cat to chase, especially in conjunction with that tantalizing scratching sound they love so much. While many people enjoy playing tag with their cat, there are times when the behavior is less than desirable.

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