Click here to learn more.
A. A little bit of both, actually. The biologist Roger Tabor has noted that kittens who are able to observe their mothers hunt and kill become better at these skills themselves. But all healthy kittens show at least some interest in predatory behavior, even though we often refer to what they’re doing as playing with toys.
When kittens chase a string, a wadded up piece of paper or the moving dot from a laser pointer, they’re tapping into – and in some ways practicing – behaviors that have kept cats alive for countless generations. Many cats who weren't taught to hunt by their mothers will figure it out on their own, even if they're being fed plenty by loving owners.
But while the cat’s hunting behavior has long been of benefit to us by keeping down rodent populations, these days predation by cats has never been more controversial. As we ourselves expand into sensitive habitats, we take our cats with us. And when they do what comes naturally to them, they trigger a furious debate, especially when birds are their prey.
It’s worth noting, however, that biologist Tabor also points out that feral cats survive mostly by scavenging, not hunting, and that even when cats hunt, their prey is more often an unwanted mouse than a rare bird.
Any bird is one too many, though, in the eyes of some animal lovers, and the debate over free-ranging cats shows no sign of calming any time soon. And so, too, will the debate over keeping cats inside. While my wife and I have barn cats on our Idaho ranch, in different circumstances — where it was more dangerous for the cats or where they would be around endangered species — we would keep our cats indoors. It is possible to provide a good life for cats indoors, and I'd be happier if more people tried.
Like this article? Have a point of view to share? Let us know!
Thank You For Signing Up
for the Petwire newsletter, sending you all the pet news each week directly to your inbox.
Get the latest pet news, tips, tricks, and expert advice sent right to your inbox!
Thanks to a microchip, Brandon Peterson found his Welsh Terrier, who went missing while he was serving in Iraq.
The group Dogs on Deployment arranges temporary homes for all kinds of animals, from canines to chinchillas.
Dr. Ann Hohenhaus explains why this procedure provides critical information for determining the prognosis of a pet.
We get a peek inside the creatures’ world with video captured by cameras that six bears wore on collars around…
This Memorial Day, we’re honoring Reckless, a Mongolian mare who served with a platoon of battle-tested…
Slugs, Pugs, hummingbirds and crows are just a few of the many creatures we spotted in the trailer for Epic.
The big, affectionate Ragdoll will love to snuggle in your lap and gaze at you with her beautiful baby blues.
If the video doesn't start playing momentarily,
please install the latest version of Flash.