Do Well-Fed Cats Still Hunt?


And here's why...

Carol Fiore (2000) found 83% of her 41 study cats produced physical evidence of a bird kill. All the cats were fed by their owners, and all the owners reported their cat(s) hunted rodents.

More than one researcher has shown that hunting is independent of hunger. Often cats kill but do not eat their prey, and Adamec (1976) has reported "the data show that response to predatory stimuli takes precedence over response to gustatory stimuli". Morris (1986) points out "a well-fed cat remains a hunting cat". It has also been demonstrated that pet cats will hunt distasteful shrews (such as species of Crocidura) but only rarely eat them (Thorne 1992). This implies a weak link between hunting and predation.

Adamec, R. 1976. The interaction of hunger and preying in the domestic cat (Felis catus): an adaptive hierarchy? Behavioral Biology (18): 263-272.

Fiore, C. 2000. The ecological implications of urban domestic cat (Felis catus) predation on cats in the city of Wichita, Kansas [thesis]. Wichita State University (KS). 179 p.

Morris, D. 1986. Cat watching. New York: Crown Publishers, Inc.

Thorne, C. 1992. The Waltham book of dog and cat behaviour. Oxford (England): Pergamon Press.

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