Mice and Cats Under One Roof. Will They Coexist Peacefully?


Mice can be a troublesome pest for homeowners. They can damage property, contaminate food, and potentially spread diseases. Many homeowners wonder if having cats in the house will deter mice from entering. This is a common belief, but the truth is a bit more nuanced.

In this article, we’ll explore the science behind mice’s fear of cats and look at real-world examples of when cats may or may not be an effective deterrent against mice. While cats can deter mice, they are not a foolproof solution. However, understanding mice’s natural aversion to cats can help homeowners use cats effectively as part of an integrated pest management plan.

Mice’s Natural Fear of Cats

Mice have an instinctual fear of cats, as cats are natural predators of mice. This fear is innate and does not have to be learned. Even mice that have never encountered a cat will show fear responses when exposed to cat urine or other scents. According to a study, mice have an innate reaction of avoidance when they smell chemicals in cat urine.

Research shows that when exposed to cat scent, the brains of mice light up in areas related to fear, anxiety and decision making. The amygdala, which processes emotions like fear, shows increased activity. Mice also avoid areas and food containers that have traces of cat urine or fur. This ingrained fear of cats is an evolutionary adaptation to help mice survive in the wild.

Scent as a Deterrent

Mice have a strong sense of smell and can detect the scent of cats from quite a distance. According to research, mice are able to recognize and fear the smell of cat urine and other scent glands, which contain feline pheromones [1]. These scents put mice into an alert mode and signal that a predator is nearby.

Studies have identified specific compounds like felinine and thiazole that mice can detect and associate with danger [2]. Even traces of cat urine or scent marking around the home can be enough to ward off mice and send them looking for safer territory. Simply having a resident cat may be sufficient to keep mice away through their lingering scent alone.

While cat scent can act as a deterrent, it’s not guaranteed to drive away mice completely on its own. Stronger preventive measures like sealing entry points may be needed, in addition to scent cues, to fully keep mice out of a home.

Other Deterrents More Effective

While cats can help deter mice, research shows that traps and other deterrents tend to be more effective at removing an existing infestation. According to one study, scientists found definitive proof that cats do not scare away rats and mice as well as other options.

Traps allow for the safe removal and elimination of mice already in the home. Glue traps in particular can catch multiple mice at once, as well as other pests like roaches and spiders. Poison baits also provide thorough elimination, though care must be taken to keep them away from children and pets.

While cats may discourage mice from initially entering a home, they are not as reliable at removing an existing infestation. Their scent and presence can deter mice, but traps and poisons tend to be more effective when mice have already gotten into a house.

When Mice May Enter

While cats can deter mice, extreme circumstances may lead mice to enter homes despite the presence of felines. According to https://www.gunterpest.com/news/do-cats-keep-mice-away/, food scarcity is one key factor that can override mice’s natural fear of cats. When mice populations boom or food sources outside the home become scarce, the rodents may become desperate enough to brave entering a house with cats. Additionally, very hungry mice are more likely to take risks, as their need for food overcomes their aversion to potential predators.

Mice are resourceful and will seek out any available food sources when natural ones are lacking. So even the smell and presence of cats may not be enough to keep mice out of a home during times of famine. Taking preventative measures like sealing up entry points and removing food sources can better deter mice from attempting to enter, even when their fear of cats is outweighed by extreme hunger.

Preventive Measures

One of the best ways to prevent mice from entering your home is to block any potential entry points. Mice can squeeze through holes as small as a dime, so inspect your home’s foundation, walls, doors, and windows for gaps or cracks and seal them with caulk, steel wool, or other draft-proofing materials. According to Corbett Exterminating, stuffing cracks and holes with steel wool is an effective deterrent as mice don’t like how it feels on their feet.

You should also remove any potential food sources that could attract mice to your home. Keep your kitchen clean and store food in airtight containers. Clean up any crumbs or spills right away. Compost piles and pet food bowls left outside can also draw mice, so keep those areas clean. Making your home less inviting to mice goes a long way in preventing an infestation.

Signs of Mice

There are several telltale signs that mice have entered your home. Some of the most common signs include droppings and gnawed materials.

Mouse droppings are small, pellet-like, and pointed on the ends. They are usually about 1/4 inch long. You may find droppings in cupboards, along baseboards, under sinks, and in other hidden areas. Mouse droppings indicate mice have been active in that area [1].

Mice also leave behind gnaw marks from chewing on materials. You may notice gnawed boxes, furniture, woodwork, drywall, wires, and other household items. Mice have strong teeth and can chew through most materials. Look for small teeth marks about 1/16 inch wide [2].

Safe Removal Methods

Using humane traps is the most effective and ethical way to remove mice from your home. These traps catch mice alive without harming them so you can release them outdoors uninjured. According to the Humane Society, live traps are the only humane trapping option and can be purchased easily in hardware stores or online.

Look for traps made of plastic or metal with a spring-loaded door that doesn’t slam down and hurt the mouse. Bait the trap with peanut butter, chocolate, or seeds. Place traps along baseboards or walls where you’ve noticed mouse activity. Check traps daily and release any captured mice within a mile of your home. Be sure to disinfect and reuse traps.

According to How to Get Rid of Mice Naturally & Humanely – Grove Blog, it’s illegal in most states to transport mice long distances. Releasing mice too far from your home puts them at risk of not finding adequate food and shelter. Take care not to release mice outdoors in freezing winter temperatures when they can’t survive.

When to Call a Professional

If you have a large infestation of mice that continues despite your efforts to control it, calling a professional exterminator is often the best solution. Signs that indicate a sizable and stubborn mouse population that requires professional help include:

  • Seeing multiple live mice in different areas of the home on a regular basis
  • Noticing a persistent strong smell of urine and droppings around the house
  • Finding numerous droppings and signs of chewing or nesting in multiple rooms
  • Hearing sounds of scampering or gnawing day and night
  • Discovering damage to food stores or electrical wiring from mice

Extensive mouse infestations can be challenging and risky for homeowners to tackle on their own. Professional exterminators have the proper equipment, chemicals, and training to fully eliminate large mouse populations and prevent re-infestation. They can inspect your home to find all nesting sites, entry points, and food sources being utilized by the mice. Exterminators will set bait stations, traps, or no-kill mechanisms along with applying targeted sprays and dusts. They can also provide advice to rodent-proof your home going forward.

Calling a professional right away once you confirm a sizable mouse problem can help get the infestation under control quickly and prevent further damage or health risks in your home. According to experts, it’s best to contact an exterminator as soon as you spot multiple live mice, fresh droppings in different rooms, or other definitive signs of a substantial infestation that requires serious intervention (1). Tackling a major mouse problem yourself without professional expertise and products is unlikely to provide satisfactory or lasting results.

(1) https://www.emcopc.com/post/when-to-call-an-exterminator-for-mice


In summary, mice have an inherent fear of cats and cats can deter mice simply through their scent markings. However, there are more effective deterrents such as sealing up entry points, removing food sources, and using humane traps. If you already have mice in your home, look for signs like droppings and noises. You can try removing them yourself through humane trapping and release, but for major infestations, call a professional exterminator. While a cat may discourage mice from entering initially, it’s not a foolproof way to keep them out long-term. With preventive measures and early action, you can keep your home free of unwelcome rodents.

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