Updated: August 11, 2022 by Kristen Chapple
Along time we’ve gotten used to see our little feline friends as cute adorable furs of ball dozing away each day, playing with us, chasing imaginary mice and following us everywhere around the house when they need attention. Or food. But there’s more to a cat than meets the eye. Cats are natural born hunters. They’re predators. Yet you might wonder how do cats hunt, as we only see their cute side.
Compared to most other mammals, like dogs for example, cats are very specialized for hunting. Evolution had a big impact on this behavior of theirs and today, even domestic cats still have the predator instincts of their ancestors. And yes, even those long periods of rest and inactivity that we usually see point exactly to this hunter behavior.
Why Do Cats Hunt
While hunting is still puzzling most people as they can’t understand why their fluffy friends continue to hunt whenever they get the chance to do so – even if they are well fed, for cats, the habit of hunting is central to their behavior.
Though the domestication of cats has begun centuries ago and it’s still going on today, their predator instincts haven’t been lost and they’re even older than the domestication process. Cats continue to go out after birds, rodents or anything that’s small enough and moves.
Today though, most feral cats will scavenge for food most often than hunt simply because that’s an easier way to find food. Despite that, when the occasion arises, they will do what comes natural to them and that is hunting.
How Do Cats Hunt
Cats are carnivore beings and their whole body is designed for hunting and meat eating. Their claws, teeth, digestive system, backbone and limbs, everything is intended to provide cats with the best evolutive tools for hunting and eating small animals.
Of all the animals, cats are among the few who can only take some nutrients from meat alone, indicating that their whole body was made for chasing moving meat.
Kittens as well show predatory instincts even before their mother starts teaching them how to hunt. Most of the time we watch them chasing all sorts of toys through our houses, but that is their natural predatory instinct at its best. It’s like training for them.
Hunting involves many hours of hiding and stalking the prey and then chasing and killing it – or sometimes playing with it for domestic cats – as a finality. The last part is what also consumes much of their energy, which they replace by dozing for up to a total of 16 hours a day.
Why Do We Like Them
Many people would say today that we love cats because they’re funny and adorable little creatures running around the house but in fact, history shows that we started liking and domesticating cats for their very predatory instincts.
In the past, people found the need to have cats around their houses, granaries and farms simply because they would guard the area against rodents and other small animals that could jeopardize the crops.