We have an eight-year-old tabby/tortoiseshell cat. She brings mice into the house from outside nearly every night. We've put a bell on her collar and we do reprimand her when we see her with a mouse and she has the courtesy to take it outside again. How can we stop her bringing these mice into the house? Jackie Nicholson, via e-mail
I think, as owners, we forget that these natural behaviors our pets display were once the reason we got the animal. People had cats to rid them of infestations of mice and rats. It is a hard wired instinct for felines to hunt. Usually moggies prefer to hunt at dawn and dusk and they choose weak prey, which will probably die anyway. She's bringing the mice back as a present for you, so you should be honoured. On the other hand, this is an incredibly difficult behavior to stop.
If the bell hasn't worked, take it off, because this alerts other predators to the presence of your cat and that may make your cat vulnerable. The simplest way to try and stop her is to not let her out at night, but this may cause more harm than good if she is used to roaming in the evenings. The good thing about keeping your cat indoors is that the indoor ones live twice as long and you stop any chance of your furry friend catching any nasty diseases from the mice. Alternatively, you could lock her out so she can not get in with her prizes and will not leave a mess all over your home. If you do this, make sure she has some shelter in case the weather is bad.
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Remember that if an animal shows signs of distress or discomfort, an early visit to the vet is always recommended.