Cats bringing in dead animals

I have a question for cat owners and cat lovers.
How do you deal with it when your cat brings in a dead animal, like a bird or a mouse? Can you get used to this if you’re a very sensitive animal lover?
I have never owned a cat, but I have pet sat many, and none ever brought any prey home… until yesterday, when the (otherwise very lovely) cat presented me with a dead bird. (I love birds!) I dealt with it and the mess is now cleaned up, but it left me feeling quite shaken and sick!

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Hi @andrealovesanimals I have attached a couple of other threads you may like to have a look at.
I have also received a couple of “presents” from cats we have looked after too, never nice but unfortunately a common occurrence with outdoor cats.

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I took care of a cat who brought in a mouse. I was aware this could happen, I’ve cleaned up dead mice before. However, on closer look the cat kept toying with it, then walked away and when I went to look, the poor little thing was clinging to life! I couldn’t bring myself to put it out of its misery, so I took the cowardly route and walked away. A short while later I went to take another look and all that was left was part of its little carcass, which I cleaned up. I know this is no help at all but that’s my contribution.

If the cat sit is rural or house backs onto fields etc and the cats are outdoor cats, there’s a good chance they’ll bring “presents” inside, both dead and alive @andrealovesanimals. Some owners acknowledge this in their listing. You can always ask in your video chat if they do.
I’ve rescued numerous live birds, mice, shrews, voles and even a squirrel and dealt with dead ones too. As I enjoy rural sits, it’s something I just have to deal with even though it’s not pleasant. I find this a common occurrence in the UK where cats are often outside overnight but in Australia, we have a cat curfew overnight so rarely are “gifts” brought inside.


Hi @andrealovesanimals. Some cats are unfortunately good hunters. Of the 13 sits and 31 cats I’ve met only 1 was a hunter. I was warned beforehand. During my stay she’d disappear in the night via the cat flap and in the morning 3 times was a half eaten bird (twice) and a mouse. It’s nature unfortunately.
The first family cat I had as a 10 year old would sleep in our utility room at night but had a catflap. We lived on the edge of a village with farm fields across the road. Many mornings we’d open the utility room door to find ‘presents’ including hare, pigeon and mice!

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A few cat owners before said that it might happen, but this was the first time it did…
I have minded lots of cats, at least 20, a lot of them with access to outdoors.
I think they tend to do it more often with their owners or people they know well, but I could be wrong

2 nights ago one of the cats we are looking after brought back a dead rat and the night before a half eaten lizard :disappointed_relieved:
I don’t like it but I’m afraid that’s what cats do…

We just got done with a cat sit last week on an acreage in the woods and the 2 cats were both hunters. Not only do they hunt them, they ate them. Outdoor cats who eventually adopt humans don’t necessarily give up their old habits. And why should they? That’s how they survived before their humans. Luckily my daughter scanned the house through out the day and if they brought in “presents” she picked them up and through them out in the fields. I would have been scared


well yes, that’s their instinct. I’d prefer if they did it out of my sight but … I guess you’ll have to put up with it if you want a cat. If my partner was here with me he’d get rid of dead animals with little fuss, but right now I’m solo sitting so I had to clean up after the poor bird.

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I definitely feel for you. I would be feeling bad for the birds as well as and also a little fearful at the same time.

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Not on a TH sit but when I was in grad school I did a full year of sitting in the San Bernardino mountains in Calif. The house came with a dog and a cat and I brought along my Irish Wolfhound and 17 yo indoor cat. The cat that came with the house would come and go on its own through the cat flap.
Over the year, the house cat brought me about a half-dozen Calif blue jays - really beautiful birds. The cat would not just bring in the birds into the house but would go up 2 flights of stairs to leave the dead birds in the bathtub!
The cat I brought with me also was a hunter - at least for a few weeks when he was young. He managed to catch 3 bats at my house in St Paul, Minnesota. Don’t know how he got them, but he left them on the dining room floor for me.
Timing of this message interesting - last week there was a New Yorker article about a town in Germany that imposed a cat lock down during bird breeding season - The Strange Story of a Cat Lockdown | The New Yorker. Not sure if the link will be open or subscriber protected.

I didn’t know about the Australian cat curfew! That’s good news :smile:

I haven’t had to deal with too many ‘presents’ brought in by cats on sits but I used to have 2 cats. I regularly had birds, field mice, koi carp, a baby rabbit (:cry:), a frog and returned home with a pigeon at the top of the stairs looking at me. I had to ask my friendly neighbours on occasion to help remove the larger gifts! It is difficult, especially when trying to chase a mouse in competition with the cat!

Unfortunately, I don’t think there’s much that can be done besides just getting used to it. But for this particular reason I’m not so fond of cat flaps, I’d rather open the door for them. I grew up on the countryside in an European country and always had several cats, we installed a cat flap for a while but had to remove it due to all dead and half dead mice in the house.

I try to think of it in a positive way;

  • If the cat is bringing it to you it’s a sign of affection. You’re family and the cat wants to make sure you survive. <3
  • Or if it’s a female cat she might want to show you how to hunt. Pretty considerate even if it’s not appreciated :slight_smile:
  • On the countryside, cats can we extremely useful in making sure you don’t have lots of mice or rats around. No pest control needed.

The only thing I’ve heard can be done is making sure the cat is mentally stimulated, lots of playing. And not only with a laser pointer as they can’t catch it. But it’s never a guarantee, the cat could hunt anyway.

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No cat flaps helps a lot! Our female cat, Leia, calls us to look and admire her catch, but she’s not allowed to take them in. Luke is not too eager to hunt anything and just loves his ready made and served meals at home.

It’s mostly lizards (which she eats) with an occasional rat. If my husband is around, he’ll put the lizard or the rat out of their misery (I understand you, @mars, I couldn’t do that either!), and lets Leia eat it.

I’m not a big fan of this, but we do want to get rid of rats near the house and it is the most natural and balanced food for her, so it is kind of a win win. She also loves to eat spiders… (She does get food at home of couse, as well as regular deworming treatment.)


It’s to protect our native birds @Smiley

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We obviously don’t care about ours then :cry:

I read that article, how interesting!
I can see both sides of the story, but how sad for the cats and their owners. I wonder if there might be better ways of protecting these birds…

Our first long term house sit in France was with Pibe, a French speaking cat. One morning, while it was still dark, I went to the kitchen to start the coffee maker. I did not turn on the light. There was an odd lump of something on the kitchen counter. I almost reach for it, but instead turned on the light. It was a headless mouse! Pibe appeared almost immediately, very pleased with her gift to me (the poor American with the limited French vocabulary.) I thanked her for her lovely gift, then picked it up in a paper towel and threw it out the back door, where she promptly took it for an early breakfast. I thoroughly sanitized the counter. She never brought me another gift, even though we stayed for 3 more months. It was as if the gift was her acceptance of me caring for her and attempting to speak to her in French.

Whenever a cat brings you a present, the polite response is “Thank you so much!” Afterwards you can dispose of it. :grinning:


What a story!! Thanks for sharing.

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