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Should indoor cats be given live mice or entertainment?

By: Petplace Staff

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We at Petplace receive lots of great questions and comments that make us think and some of them really stretch and challenge us.
Recently, Dr. Jon was asked this question from one of our Petplace subscribers - Is it safe to give a cat a life mouse to play with?
The exact question was:

Dr. Jon - my cat likes to play. Is it safe to give my cat a live mouse to play with periodically (and even eat if he wants). My cats name is Sammy and I think he might enjoy this maybe once a week or so. He is a 2-year-old indoor cat and I think he might enjoy the real cat and mouse game! I can buy mice pretty cheap at the local pet store.
Bill.


This question really made us uncomfortable. We realize in nature that cats hunt, play with, sometimes torture and eat their prey. But that is nature. Somehow it seems different in the natural habitat that in our homes. Or is it?

So Dr. Jon asked for your help by sending you a survey. Dr. Jon told Bill that I preferred that he played with his cat with cat toys. There are some great cat toys in the market today; there truly is something for every type of cat out there. We have a very good article titled " How to Determine Your Cats Play Preference". This article will help you figure out what type of play your cat likes best. Some cats like to chase bugs - and we call them "buggers". Some cats like to track bird motions and we call them "birders". Some cats like to stock and tumble as though stocking mice - we call them "mousers". There are different types of toys that each group responds to.

The results were as follows:

  • Of those of you that responded – 97.6% of you have cats, 1.8% didn't currently have cats but had an opinion on this topic.

  • 73.4 % of you had indoor only cats and 27.4% had indoor only cats.

  • Then the big question – Do you think an indoor cat be given live mice for entertainment?

    93.5 % said NO! 3% said yes.

    Those that responded no – 90% said they did not think it was ethical to cause needless pain, suffering and fear to a mouse for a cats entertainment, 47.5% worried that the mouse could be sick and hurt the cat and 30% worried that they mouse could bite and physically injury the cat.

    We had many great comments – including:

  • The person who asked this question is a moronic idiot!

  • I believe that there are plenty of cat toys available that can mimic the "cat and mouse" game. In nature, the cat would probably eat the mouse for survival, but I think it is inhumane to "serve" a mouse to a cat for play.

  • I have had mice, birds and cats all at the same time as pets. I would never think of feeding one of my pets to another pet. That is just sick!

  • As long as you don't injure the mouse so that it has a fair chance, I don't see anything wrong with it. At least it has a chance to escape. It's more humane than throwing a mouse in a tank with a snake!

  • The mice in pet stores are met to be sold as pets. They are bred to be tame and to exhibit loving characteristics. To me, this is no different than game preserves where hunters are allowed to take potshots at tame or elderly animals!

  • This guy who wants to give his cat a live mouse just loves his cat very much! He thinks that he is torturing his precious cat by not giving him what he could've had outdoors.

  • His idea is analogous to the extremely wicked practice of allowing humans to "hunt" at farms at which elk or deer are kept corralled or even tied up to make sure that the "hunter" cannot fail to make "his" kill. This is a disgusting practice. I am a hunter myself, but that kind of hunting is beyond conscience. If my little puss should bag a bird or a mouse when we are outside in our garden, more power to her. This accords with the laws and customs of her kind in the natural world. But if I bought poor wee mice and brought them home for her, I would be, in effect "stocking" these mice for her, as money-making persons stock elk and deer for cruel and lazy people who want to claim the honor of hunting without doing the work. This should not on any account be considered. Thank you. JAH

  • Hope he doesn't decide to get a dog...to kill the cat!

  • It is cruel to the mouse. I've seen it happen outside and it is very upsetting to see. Why would I want that in my house? It is just CRUEL, not to mention the mess and dirt and germs introduced by a mouse running around. HORRORS!

  • I understand in nature cats may chase, play and eat mice. But it is extremely unethical to bring a mouse into the house for the cats entertainment. Other animals eat and chase cats in nature but we should not bring a cat to a pit bull for entertainment. It's just wrong.

  • I think the whole idea of doing such a thing is sickening and disgusting

  • That person is sick.

  • No I don't think it's o.k. to get a live mouse for a cat to kill. Cats that hunt for their prey are exercising an age old instinct to track , hunt, kill and eat their prey or give them to you as a gift. Handing over a captive mouse to a cat to play with and eat is just satisfying some sicko's perverted fascination with watching a defenseless creature be tortured to death.

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