How Do I Stop My Cat From Eating Mice?

Understanding Your Cat’s Instincts

Cats are natural hunters with a strong prey drive that is instinctual and deeply ingrained. Domestic cats are descended from desert cats that were solitary hunters. Even though our cats no longer need to hunt to survive, the instinct remains. According to Four Paws, the desire to hunt is not governed by hormones and does not diminish after neutering. Cats are obligate carnivores and their natural diet consists primarily of meat from prey animals.

Killing mice, birds, insects and other small creatures is perfectly normal behavior for cats. As Purina notes, cat hunting today is more for entertainment than survival. Simply seeing or hearing potential prey triggers your cat’s prey drive instinct. While you can’t completely eliminate this instinct, you can redirect it in more positive ways with toys, playtime, puzzle feeders and enrichment.

Risks of Eating Mice

There are some potential health risks for cats who hunt and eat mice.

Mice can carry parasites like roundworms, which can then be passed on to cats who eat them. Roundworm eggs are shed in mouse feces, and if a cat ingests an infected mouse, the eggs can hatch inside the cat’s intestinal tract, leading to a roundworm infection (1).

Mice may also have fleas, mites, or ticks, which can jump onto your cat while they are hunting. These parasites can cause skin irritation and discomfort for cats (2).

In addition, mice can carry viruses like hantavirus or lymphocytic choriomeningitis virus. While rare, these viruses can potentially spread to cats who eat or come into close contact with infected mice (3).

There is also a small risk of injury if the mouse fights back while being captured. Mice have sharp teeth and claws and could potentially bite or scratch a cat.

So while catching mice is normal predator behavior for cats, it does come with some health hazards to be aware of.


Making Your Home Less Appealing to Mice

Mice are attracted to homes that provide easy access to food and shelter. Making your home less hospitable can deter mice from entering and taking up residence in the first place. Here are some tips:

Store food in sealed containers to eliminate access to crumbs and scraps. Glass, metal or rigid plastic containers with tight lids are ideal for keeping pantry items sealed up. Transfer boxes of cereal, crackers, baking mixes, etc. into containers rather than leaving them in cardboard boxes or bags.

Eliminate access points like holes in walls, gaps beneath doors, cracks around pipes and any other openings larger than 1/4 inch that could allow mice entry. Seal up holes with caulk, steel wool, cement or hardware cloth. Weatherstrip doors and seal gaps around pipes. This denies mice easy routes into your home.

Keep areas clean and dry. Sweep floors frequently, don’t allow crumbs or grease buildup, and wipe down countertops. Mice are attracted to mess and moisture that promotes mold growth. Keep things tidy and promptly deal with any leaks or water damage.

Removing food sources and hiding spots makes homes much less interesting to mice. These preventative measures create an unwelcoming environment so mice are more likely to look elsewhere. For additional tips, check out How to Keep Mice Away For Good.

Providing Adequate Food

One of the best ways to curb a cat’s urge to hunt is to make sure she is getting adequate nourishment from her regular meals. Feed your cat a complete, nutritious diet and stick to scheduled meal times instead of leaving food out at all times. Cats do enjoy grazing, so you can try leaving a small amount of dry food out during the day. Just don’t overfill the bowl.

Another helpful tactic is to use puzzle feeders or hide your cat’s food in different locations around the house. This allows her to engage in natural foraging behaviors. Puzzle feeders also encourage cats to eat more slowly and have been shown to reduce feline obesity. Work with your vet to determine the ideal meals and portions for your cat based on her age, activity level, and other factors.

More Frequent Playtime

Indoor cats especially can benefit from more opportunities to express their natural hunting instincts through interactive playtime. Consider setting aside at least 2-3 play sessions per day of 10-15 minutes each. Use toys that tap into your cat’s prey drive, including wands with feather attachments that you can make “fly” around the room, crinkle balls, and laser pointers that allow them to chase a dot of light. Providing these outlets satisfies your cat’s inner hunter and can make them less likely to bring home unwanted prey.

Good interactive toys as recommended by PetMD and Rover include wand toys with feathers or fake mice, laser pointers, treat-dispensing puzzle toys, and crinkle balls. Rotating different toys will prevent your cat from getting bored. Be sure to store the toys out of reach when playtime is over.

Outdoor Enclosure/Catio

An outdoor enclosure or “catio” can allow your cat to safely spend time outside while containing them and preventing the catching of prey like mice. According to the SPCA, “Catios allow your cat to experience the sights, sounds and smells of the outdoors from the comfort and safety of an enclosed space” (source).

When building or purchasing a catio, look for large spaces that allow room for shelves, tunnels, scratching posts and other enriching elements. The Humane Society recommends “placing the enclosure in a naturally interesting area with a view. The more sensory stimulation it provides, the more enriching it will be.”. Perches and climbing areas will keep your cat engaged and entertained (source).

With ample enrichment and activity in an outdoor catio, your cat will be less motivated to hunt prey like mice, making it an effective deterrent.


One effective way to curb your cat’s desire to hunt mice is to provide appropriate distractions that allow them to engage their natural hunting instincts in a more positive way. Consider providing interactive toys that mimic prey, like feathery wands, laser pointers, or automated toys that move randomly to pique their interest. According to Toys to Distract the Kitten: essential tools, battery operated toys are especially useful for keeping a curious kitten occupied and amused.

You can also set up things for your cat to pounce on and chew, to satisfy their need to catch imaginary prey. Place some indoor grass for cats to nibble on. Herbs like catnip, catmint, and silvervine make great distractions since they appeal to most cats’ senses. Consider creating a window perch where your cat can view outdoor activity.

Rotating toys helps keep your cat engaged since new items will seem more exciting. Try to play with interactive toys together each day to burn off some of your cat’s extra energy. Just be sure to put toys away at night, since cats may ingest pieces when unsupervised.


There are some deterrents you can try to make your home less appealing to mice. Mice dislike strong citrus and mint scents, so you can use essential oils like lemon, orange, peppermint or spearmint to repel them. Place a few drops of oil on cotton balls and leave them in areas mice frequent. However, research shows these scents only deter mice temporarily and need to be reapplied often to be effective.

Ultrasonic pest repellers claim to emit high-frequency sounds that drive mice away. However, studies find these devices have limited success against mice as they quickly adapt and ignore the sounds according to JC Ehrlich. While not a standalone solution, some homeowners find combining ultrasonic repellers with other deterrents provides better results.

Seeking Veterinary Advice

If your cat continues to hunt mice despite your best efforts, consult your veterinarian. They can provide professional guidance tailored to your cat’s specific behaviors and needs.

Ask your vet about synthetic pheromone diffusers like Feliway that can help reduce stress and aggressive behaviors. Medications may also be prescribed in some cases to curb excessive hunting instincts.

It’s important to rule out potential medical causes for the mouse hunting like hyperthyroidism, which can increase appetite and predatory behaviors. Your vet can run tests to check your cat’s thyroid levels and overall health.

Keep your vet informed if the hunting persists so they can adjust their recommendations. Be patient, as it may take some trial and error to find the right solution for your individual cat. Your vet’s expertise combined with consistency on your part can help resolve the unwanted hunting over time.

Being Patient and Consistent

Change takes time for cats. Cats are creatures of habit, so redirecting their natural hunting behaviors and instincts requires patience on your part. Don’t expect to solve the mouse hunting problem overnight.

Try using a combination of techniques consistently over time to curve your cat’s behaviors. For example, provide puzzle toys alongside deterrents, or increase playtime while also limiting outdoor access. Finding the right approach for your individual cat will likely involve some trial and error.

Avoid punishing your cat for natural behaviors like hunting mice. Yelling, scolding, or any other negative reinforcement will not change the behavior in a constructive way. Stay positive in your interactions, and be the source of rewards through treats, play, and affection.

With time and consistency using humane approaches, you can redirect your cat away from undesirable behaviors. But change won’t happen immediately, so commit to the process long-term without getting frustrated.

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