Why Does My Cat Eat Mice?

cat mice on table

Cats are known for eating mice, but there are probably some things you didn’t know about why they do this.

If you have noticed this behavior with your cat, you will need to learn the facts.

While it might seem perfectly harmless, your pet could be at risk.

Why Do Cats Eat Mice?

It actually wasn’t all that long ago that cats lived mostly outside. They were used to reduce mouse and rat populations. While these animals have been domesticated over the years, they retain much of their primal instincts. This includes the desire to hunt, kill and eat mice.

Wild cats in Africa are still big hunters today, eating everything from reptiles to small insects. One of the reasons they eat mice and other animals is to get their nutritional needs met. Their natural prey contains taurine, an essential amino acid. Many modern day commercial cat foods include this amino acid because it is important to overall health of these animals.

Outdoor cats are more likely to simply play with any mice they find rather than immediately kill them. This is because they did not learn how to do this from their mother, as is the case with feral felines.

Cats also sometimes kill mice and bring them to their owners as a gift of sorts. While this might not be your favorite habit of theirs, it is really quite sweet. This is just your cat’s way of saying that they love you.

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mice and cat

Benefits of Letting Your Cat Eat Mice

There are a couple of benefits associated with allowing your cat to eat mice that you should at least consider.

Eliminate Your Pest Problem

Allowing your cat to hunt and eat mice can keep your home and the surrounding area free of rodents, which is always a good thing. It is certainly a lot cheaper than hiring an exterminator!

Nutritional Benefits

As stated above, mice and other prey of cats contain certain nutrients they need to stay healthy. This is not the only way to provide them with these nutrients, but it is still something to keep in mind.

Drawbacks to Letting Your Cat Eat Mice

Because mice can carry a lot of different diseases, there are certain health risks cats face when eating them.


If your cat eats mice, it could contract a disease known as toxoplasmosis. It can be quite serious, causing damage to the nervous system in some cases. This disease can also lead to liver disease if it is left untreated. Some of these symptoms of toxoplasmosis include vomiting, diarrhea, and lethargy.


While it is fairly rare, cats can contract Hantavirus from eating mice. This can quickly lead to breathing problems, making it very serious. This virus can be transmitted to humans and has a long incubation period.


One of the most common health risks to cats that each mice is roundworms. These parasites live in a cat’s intestines, and they can wreak all sorts of havoc. They cause your cat to become severely nutrient deficient, which can be fatal if it is not properly treated.

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Hookworms and whipworms are also a concern with cats that eat mice. These worms can do a lot of damage to your cat within a fairly short amount of time. In many cases, they cause severe inflammation from the inside. This often leads to diarrhea and rapid weight loss. You should keep an eye out for these symptoms with your cat.

cat mice hole

Outdoor Predators

Depending on where you live, letting your cat outside to hunt can be dangerous for them. Coyotes, cougars, raccoons and snakes can all pose a significant threat to your pet. You will need to keep this in mind before making a final decision.

Ingesting Poison

If you try to kill mice in your home with poison, your cat could become seriously ill if they eat one that has ingested it. The effects this will have on your cat depend on how recently the mouse consumed the poison and the quantity it ingested. If you are going to let your cat eat mice, you should probably avoid using this poison anywhere in or around your home.

Tips for Letting Your Cat Eat Mice

If you are going to let your cat eat mice, there are some tips that you will need to consider.

  • Let them out at night: Your cat is much more likely to catch mice at night, so that is when you should let them out.
  • Do not put a bell on your cat: While having a bell on your cat can definitely increase its cuteness, it makes hunting more difficult for them. They need the element of surprise when hunting.
  • Look for signs of sickness: Anyone who allows their cats to hunt outside should keep a lookout for signs of illness. This includes vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, lack of appetite, sudden weight loss or gain, blood in stool, and behavioral changes. If your cat exhibits any of these symptoms for more than a day or two, you should see your veterinarian.
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  • Cats eat mice mostly due to their natural hunting instincts that these animals have had for hundreds if not thousands of years.
  • Some cats like to kill mice and bring them to their owners as a sort of gift to show affection.
  • Allowing your cat to eat mice can help keep the rodent population in and around your house down.
  • Mice contain taurine, which is an essential amino acid that cats need to stay healthy as a whole.
  • Eating mice can cause your cat to get various types of worms or even toxoplasmosis, which can be deadly.
  • It is important that you closely monitor your cat’s health if you allow them to hunt and eat mice.
  • Let your cat outside at night so that it has the best chances of catching these animals.
  • Do not put a bell on your cat, as it will make it harder for them to sneak up on mice.