How Effective are Cats in Pest Control?

Today, the modern feline pet is a lazy and spoiled furball we all love to pet and snuggle with (even if they don’t want to). But we all know that cats are very good hunters, especially for the most unwanted pests in people’s homes – rats and mice.

But, how much can we rely on this fact and will our fluffy purring snuggler ever be of any use in our fight against unwelcome guests?

What Does History Say?

Historically, cats have domesticated themselves about 8000 years ago, at the dawn of human civilization. In Ancient Egypt they were worshiped as gods, and with good reasons.

The human civilization appeared because our ancestors started growing crops. And, if there’s crops, there are also barns to keep the crops in. These barns were the perfect place for mice and rats to invade. And, a rodent invasion of the only food source of an entire city or village, could mean a whole year of famine.

Luckily, the wild cats learned where the populations of mice and rats like to gather and made the crop fields and barns their hunting space. When the people saw how the wild cats get rid of their enemies, they started to accommodate the predators and eventually started worshiping them.

This way, people didn’t starve to death, and the wild cats received food and accomodation. Over the years, they evolved into the small domestic cats we have today.

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What Does the Present Say?

Unfortunately, today not all cats can do this job. Since we started breeding them selectively, there are cats that have never hunted rodents for generations. And, in the meantime, rats and mice have been evolving to survive in the wild with tons of other predators. They can learn fast and it takes them a very short time to realize that the cat in question is not going to attack them.

Still, there are also lots of cats that still have their hunting instincts intact. These are mostly street cats and other cats that for any reason have been born in the wild and had to learn to get their food by themselves. This is the type of cat you need in your home.

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How to Put a Cat to Good Use Against Pests

To ensure that your cat won’t be scared if a rodent faces her, or she won’t just be laying around looking at it and doing nothing (worthy of a cat video), here is what kind of cats you should be looking for.

  • A cat from a working cats program. A working cats program gathers stray and feral cats to hunt pests. Phone your local shelter or humane society and ask if there is a program like this in your local area. If there is, you have a solution to your rodent problem.
  • A stray cat. Stray cats are most likely to be mousers, since they were born on the street and had to survive on their own. If you can find a friendly street cat, this is your best option. You can also look for such in your local shelter. If you happen to find a pregnant stray cat, you can care for the kittens and let the mother raise them as hunters as well. This way you have a long term solution. Of course don’t forget to neuter and spay them all in order to control their population.
  • A feral cat that shows signs of taming. Street cats are good, and all, but in some cities there are lots of feral cats roaming the streets. These are cats that never had any contact with humans (or only had a bad contact), so they would never get close to you. Still, there are ways you can tame a feral cat, and if it’s possible for you, they may prove even more useful than the normal domestic street cats.
  • A hunting breed cat. Some cat breeds are better at hunting pests than others. These examples include: Main coon, Siberian, Siamese, Burmese, Manx, Turkish angora, Japanese bobtail among many others. However learn more about the personality of the specific cat before adopting.
  • A barn cat. Barn cats are ideal for this, since they are used to living outdoors and they get a thrill from hunting. They can be put to good use around your home, however if they get used to living outside, you will have to put their food around the yard as well. And, cat food might attract more wildlife, such as raccoons and squirrels.

Will this really work?

Cats are an amazing asset to have at home against any type of rodents. However, bear in mind that they won’t be of much use if you already have a huge population of rats or mice infesting your house. One cat, as agile and predatory it is, also has its limits, while rodent populations can grow up to hundreds.

A whole population of cats might be able to scare the rodent population enough and make them leave their hiding place and look for another place of dwelling. Still, cats are an amazing preventative measure if you don’t have any infestation. If you have a cat at home, rodents will make sure to keep away.

Over to you – do you believe cats are effective in pest control? What’s your experience? We’d love to hear you out in the comments below.

Picture source: Impact Photography / shutterstock.com

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