NZ Lifestyle Block

2 easy ways to stop your cat from eating wildlife


New research shows that domestic cats hunt less when owners feed them a diet including plenty of meat proteins and play with them each day in ways that allow cats to mimic hunting. “Our study shows that using entirely non-invasive, non-restrictiv­e methods, owners can change what the cats themselves want to do,” says Dr Robbie McDonald from the University of Exeter’s Environmen­t and Sustainabi­lity Institute.

McDonald and his colleagues tried several strategies with 355 cats from 219 households, including puzzle feeders, meaty diets, and play.

Their work showed that a high meat protein diet reduced the number of prey animals brought home to cat owners by 36%.

The play strategy involved a game where the cat could stalk, chase, and pounce on a feather toy dangled by their owner on a string and wand. Owners also gave cats a mouse-like toy to play with after each ‘hunt,’ mimicking a real kill. As little as 5-10 minutes a day reduced predation by 25%.

Puzzle feeders didn’t have the desired effect, with owners reporting their cats brought home more prey animals than before. The researcher­s aren’t sure why but say it’s possible the cats were hungrier because they and their owners struggled to use the puzzle feeders.

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