Can Cats Kill Rats? What You Need to Know
Tom and Jerry’s rivalry is well-known and adored. While we were all in favor of Jerry, what do you think would happen if a mouse or rat decided to move in with you? Mice are small and the perfect prey for cats. But what about rats?
They may have you considering bringing a cat home. While people report a decrease in rat population after the entry of cats at the site, some report seeing rats roaming around and cats only observing them from a distance. Can cats kill rats? Let’s find out.
Can Cats Kill Rats?
Cats are natural hunters. They are known to kill billions of animals each year, so much so that they have accounted for the extinction of 63 species of animals worldwide.
If you are a cat owner, you probably already know about the hunting skills of the feline, as they are known to present their catch as a gift to their owners.
But did your cat ever bring you a rat? Probably not. And what do you think must be the reason?
Maybe they just kill them and leave them behind. Who would carry something heavy like that?
This is what most people conclude, but do you too think so?
Let’s get some answers; read the study below and learn what scientists accidentally discovered about the cat-rat relationship.
2017 Study on Rat Pheromones
Scientists at Fordham University studied rat behaviors using concentrated rat scents —pheromones. The experiment was set up at the Brooklyn waste management facility, and infrared cameras were used to observe the 150 rats that populated the place.
The scent of the pheromones not only attracted the subject of their study but also the cat colony in the facility. The change in the setup made the scientists curious, and they shifted their study toward the rat-cat interactions.
What do you think they found out? While they expected the cats to destroy the rat colony or hunt the rats into hiding or escape, neither happened.
And the results were surprising. During the 79-day testing period, out of the 150 rat residents, the cats only ambushed 3 and were able to kill just 2.
Why the Change of Heart
While the cats were supposed to have a field day catching rats left and right, the feline was found to be rather uninterested. As already mentioned, they only attempted three hunts.
So, why did the ferocious hunter, who is known to kill thousands of animals every year, take a backseat?
It’s because size matters. A mouse is a small animal, and even the healthiest of mice can weigh no more than 40 grams. In contrast, an adult rat weighs around 600–700 grams. Even the tiniest adult female will be around 350–400 grams, which is around 10 times the size of an adult mouse.
But if they do not hunt for rats, why did they get attracted to the scent?
Well, rats and mice belong to the same rodent family and have very similar smells. So, the cats followed the smell in search of mice, but what they got was their big brother.
Imagine heading out to bully someone small and encountering their large immediate family member. This was the joke that was played on the poor little cats.
Cats know that a fight with a rat is not going to be as easy as with a mouse. They calculate the risks involved and know they will not emerge unscathed. As a feral cat, injuries can become deadly, and risking your life for a meal is not a negotiation wild animals would make.
Cats hunt for animals smaller than them, and even though rats are smaller than cats, they are much bigger than mice and quite ferocious as well.
However, in the experiment, the scientists also found that the rats also hid 1.19 times more than they normally would. So, much like the cats, the rats too wanted to avoid getting into a fight. This explains why people report a decline in rat sightings after bringing in cats and the misconception that cats are effective rat killers.
Also, studies have found that the mere presence of a cat in the vicinity can reduce the reproductive capability of the rodents, reducing their population and the rate of infestation.
So, while a cat may not be able to kill the animal, it can bring about a reduction in population by other means. So, if you notice a rat around, inviting a stray cat may be the ideal solution.
How to Get Rid of Rats
So can cats kill rats? Yes, on rare occasion, but cats are not a solution to your rat problem. The most they can do is make the rats run into hiding. However, you can take many other measures to get rid of rats. They are:
1. Inspect the home for holes and gaps that allow rats access.
2. Seal the entry points to stop further infestation.
3. Eliminate their hiding place by cleaning up clutter. Rats like to take shelter, so removing all the debris and cleaning enclosed spaces will deter them from making a home in your home.
4. While poisons are out of the question, the only way to eliminate the existing rat population in your home is by setting up traps. Use many traps at a given time and lure the animal with its favorite foods, like unsalted seeds, bananas, peanut butter, and apples.
5. You can also use natural deterring methods like sprinkling crushed pepper at the entry points of your home. Pepper will irritate the rats’ airways and discourage them from taking the same route. You can also use other ingredients like cayenne pepper, cloves, and peppermint oil on your outside walls to stop the rodents from entering.
6. Transfer the job to a pest control company. If the rat issue has escalated, and you cannot control them yourself or simply want a professional to do the dirty work, hire one of the many pest management companies available. They can identify entry points, predict the population of rats in your house, eliminate them, and keep them away. They will help you get to the root of the issue, which will prove helpful in the future.