Cats have evolved to be extremely powerful predators of smaller prey. In this modern age, most house cats have no need to hunt, as their owners take care of them. However, some owners wonder if it's better to allow cats to hunt. Doing so can help to keep them in prime physical condition, and it would seem that there's nothing better for a cat to eat than prey. If you're considering allowing your cat to hunt freely, consider the following points first:
Danger to Cats
Believe it or not, hunting can pose a serious risk to your cat's well-being. There are a variety of reasons for this.
Hunting prey puts your cat at risk of being physically harmed. Your cat could find itself at odds with a larger predator that wants the same prey it does. Your cat could also simply be hurt fighting the prey it's attempting to take down.
Furthermore, eating wild animals can put your cat's health at risk. Small, fragile bones found in birds and mice can potentially splinter when a cat bites them. This could cause injuries to your cat's mouth and throat. In addition, rodents often carry harmful diseases and can even carry small amounts of rodent poison, which your cat could then consume if they eat the rodent.
Danger to Wildlife Populations
Cats are such excellent hunters that they can utterly decimate the wildlife populations in a small amount of time. It's estimated that feral cats kill billions of prey per year, and releasing a house cat into the wild to do the same only increases these numbers.
While this might sound like a good thing when it comes to keeping unwanted pests out of your home and yard, it's not all good news. Birds are also on the list of prey that are capable of being endangered by excessive hunting. Consider this before letting your cat hunt.
If keeping your cat entertained and fit is your only concern, you can achieve that without letting your cat hunt. Simply playing with your cat regularly and allowing them to hunt for their meal indoors will accomplish this.
Many companies have begun to sell products that dispense cat food when played with in an effort to keep cats physically active. It may be more satisfying for your cat to play to earn their meal, without all the risks of hunting outdoors.
Cats are definitely proficient at hunting, but that doesn't mean they should have to any more than you do. Before allowing your cat to hunt outside, keep these negatives in mind and choose wisely before potentially putting your cat's health at risk.
Contact a local animal hospital for more information and assistance.