It could be endearing if it wasn't so gross, but its not your cat's fault she doesn't know what gifts you like!

Your first reaction when your cat drops a dead animal at your feet probably isn't to say "thank you." Cats aren't really trying to be mean, are they? While it may seem strange to us humans, cats bringing us their prey is a natural behavior. When we understand why they do it, it helps us pet parents give our cats the safest and most stimulating environment we can.

cat bringing her owner a dead mouse with what the fluff logo
Credit: gerdtromm / Getty

Reasons Why Your Cat Brings You Dead Animals as "Gifts"

It's in Her Kitty DNA

Your kitty is not a cold-blooded killer. Well, at least not intentionally. The truth is, your cat companion is an expert hunter and the thrill of pursuing prey is in her kitty DNA. Although cats were domesticated a very long time ago, the desire to chase, hunt, and catch vermin and all types of critters is an instinctual behavior. After catching a particularly good dinner, cats will then bring it home to a place of safety like their den or a secluded bush or grassy area (or yes, your front porch) to enjoy the meal. They may even offer it up to others in their family.

Your Cat Is Practicing Her Hunting Skills

Look on the bright side! Sometimes she just catches and plays with the potential snack, leaving you with the joyful experience of having to re-catch the mouse that is now running loose in your kitchen. This behavior of catch and release is your cat practicing her hunting skills just like she was taught to do. Feral or wild mother cats will often bring home live or injured prey to her kittens for this very reason, so they can practice too. This is why cat toys that encourage your cat to chase, pounce, strike, and bite are great enrichment activities that encourage natural feline behaviors.

What To Do When Your Cat Brings You Dead Animals

Don't want any more dead animals left at your doorstep? It probably won't stop unless you keep your cat indoors. Keeping your cat inside your home, confined to a catio, or always on a leash when she ventures out is the best way to prevent more dead animal deliveries. Plus, cats wreak havoc on the environment as they don't just kill tiny mice; cats that are left to roam outdoors will kill birds and other small species important to the ecosystem. Not to mention the increased likelihood of your feline catching diseases like toxoplasmosis or rabies. It is such a serious issue that cats have become considered an invasive species. Wildlife advocates want cat parents to take action and understand the negative consequences of letting kitty roam. So, keep your feline inside for their safety and the safety of our environment.

Offer Safe Indoor Enrichment to Keep Your Cat From Bringing More Dead Animals in the House

Although the outside world is full of fun and temptations, the safest way to ensure your cat is happy, active, and healthy is to offer her plenty of enrichment indoors. All cats need regular opportunities to engage in natural feline behaviors and you can offer them plenty of options right in your living room. Here are just a few ideas to try:

  • Invest in interactive toys that encourage your cat to chase, jump, grab, bite, and pounce.
  • Provide alternatives by growing cat grass for munching or catnip to play with.
  • Create puzzles and mazes with old boxes by cutting holes throughout and hiding treats.
  • Purchase a cat perch or cat tree (or build your own!) to place at different heights around the room.
  • For safe outdoor time, consider building a catio for your backyard.

Cats are wonderful companions that we love and enjoy and they want to share their love for us, too. This can take the form of icky half-alive critters on your carpet though so to prevent your kitty from feasting on outside cuisine and bringing you home the "doggy bag", keep your cat safe and happy inside with lots of cat enrichment.