Category Archives: hunting

Why Do Cats Hoard Useless Items & Bring Us Gifts?

cats hoard david blackwellBy Langley Cornwell

Most cat owners have seen evidence that their feline friend is a hoarder in one way or another. They might find a stash of trinkets near the cat’s food dish, or a collection of toys where the cat spends the most time relaxing. Whatever tactics cats employ, they do it in plentiful numbers and leave their owners baffled. There are some opposing theories as to why a cat’s hoarding behavior occurs in the first place.

Developing Hunting Skills

Just as all animals have natural instincts and practice using them when they are young, so goes the life of a cat. They are hunters and they have to teach their children, or kittens, to appreciate their prey. They might bring dead prey to their young kittens in order to start feeding them solid food. Eventually, they will also bring live food to the young ones so that they too can practice the art of the kill.

Some speculators believe that a cat’s hoarding behavior is simulating bringing the prey back to the home base. This is why cats often bring it to their food dish. Even finding the item in the first place may be part of the skill of the hunt. You can see this behavior demonstrated when cats practice stalking behavior on things they aren’t going to kill, or can’t kill. It’s just part of their developmental process.
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Move Over Pigs – Truffle Hunting Dogs Are Taking Over!

By Linda Cole

Truffles are one of the most expensive culinary delicacies used in cooking. This highly prized tubular fungi grows underground and can only be found by pigs or dogs trained to sniff them out. Female pigs have been the traditional truffle hunters because finding them is something they do naturally with no training, but they are apt to eat the pricey mushrooms. Truffle hunting dogs have been used in Italy and France for years, and now American hunters are also relying on canine noses to root out these elusive and expensive treats.

The Lagotto Romagnolo, an Italian water dog, has been the breed used by Italian truffle hunters since the 1800s. Retrievers, setters, pointers and dogs used in detection work – including the Belgian Malinois, German Shepherd and Beagle – all easily adapt to hunting truffles. Poodles, Fox Terriers and Dachshunds also have a good nose for finding the hidden gems. But any dog, mixed or purebred, can be trained to sniff out truffles. Like pigs, dogs will eat the truffles; however, it’s much easier to stop a dog from eating one than it is to convince a 300 pound pig to drop her favorite treat.

Truffles are among the world’s most expensive natural foods. They are found in Europe, North America, Asia and North Africa. Warty and irregular, truffles can be as small as marbles up to the size of a fist. They’re often found around the base of pine, willow, hazelnut and oak trees, although pretty much any tree can have one of these prized treats hidden underneath.
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Is It Okay for Cats to Eat Bugs?

By Julia Williams

Like their wild cousins, our domestic kitty cats are natural born hunters. Their motto is “If it moves, chase it” which includes everything from rodents and insects to human toes that unwittingly wiggle under the bedcovers. For many cats, hunting is the fun part; they either bring their catch to us in exchange for praise, or leave it lying around for our bare feet to step in.

Sometimes they will eat what they catch. It’s not about hunger though – my cats get two square CANIDAE meals a day plus treats, yet they still munch on that juicy grasshopper like it’s the best feline caviar on the planet, the stuff of every kitty’s dream. If I didn’t know better, I’d swear they eat their kill with even more gusto when I am watching, because they know how much it grosses me out. Yep, there is nothing quite like seeing your cat wolf down a fly and come running over for a kiss. I love my cats dearly, but there will be no kisses until that little snack is washed down with copious amounts of water or the “incident” is forgotten, whichever comes first.

So while many cats do relish eating things like flies, spiders, grasshoppers, ants, crickets, June bugs and moths, is there any harm? With a few exceptions, the answer is no. Most household and garden-variety bugs aren’t harmful to cats. Although it may turn your stomach to witness the carnage, eating bugs is a natural behavior for cats that in most cases is not cause for alarm.

As I said, though, there are some exceptions:

Gastrointestinal upset

If a cat eats a lot of bugs in one sitting, or a certain kind of bugs, this could result in stomach upset. Bugs with hard exoskeletons, such as beetles, are really irritating to the cat’s digestive tract. Typically, this doesn’t end well – as in, the cat barfs up a pile of bugs. Per the Cat Golden Rule, this will be done “always on the rug, never the linoleum.” Additionally, if kitty doesn’t chew thoroughly, a chunk of bug can get stuck in his throat, causing choking. Diarrhea is also a strong possibility.

Poisonous Bugs

Some bugs, such as stink bugs, are not poisonous per se but their secretions can cause excessive drooling or vomiting and can also irritate the cat’s gastrointestinal tract. A few bugs – lovebugs and fireflies, for example – are actually poisonous for your cat and can cause severe intestinal problems. If a cat tries to eat a black widow spider and gets bitten by it, this can cause a long list of serious health issues and even death.

I have read that cats instinctively know which bugs to avoid. However, I wouldn’t want to put that theory to the test and have my cat suffer the consequences if it proved not to be true. In any event, figuring out which bugs are safe and which ones are not can be tricky. If you see a bug you know to be poisonous or any bug you can’t identify, it’s best to procure the professional services of an exterminator.

Insecticide Toxicity

Bug bait traps can be deadly for pets. Even if you place the bug bait where kitty can’t get to it, the insect may drag some of the poison out where your cat can come into contact with it. Cats can also become severely ill from eating poisoned bugs. I personally would never take that chance, especially since there are pet-friendly alternatives for killing bugs when necessary.

I may not enjoy seeing my cats devour the occasional fly that sneaks into my house, but I don’t panic either, because I know that hunting and eating bugs is a perfectly natural feline behavior. Does your cat like to eat bugs?

Top photo by Simon Evans
Middle photo by Ian Barbour 
Bottom photo by babbagecabbage 

Read more articles by Julia Williams

Why Do Cats Hunt?

Has your cat ever left you a present on your door mat that you stepped on by accident? Has your cat ever presented you with the remains of a mouse or bug? The best thing to do in this situation is to praise your cat and make a happy fuss over the remains, before disposing of them as discreetly as you can without your cat seeing you do it. Believe it or not, all cats hunt whether feral or domesticated, outdoor or indoor.
Yes, even those wonderful purring machines that love to sit in your lap and cuddle, hunt. My cats never used to go outside, so I was presented with all sorts of odd things when they were “hunting” in the house. They would bring me twist ties, buttons, pencil stubs, bottle caps, and the occasional fly or ladybug that had been unlucky enough to get in the house. They brought whatever they happened to find that they could carry to me. While I thought this was very entertaining, I never really gave it much thought. After all, I had taught them to fetch toys and things, so I thought that was what they were doing, except that some of the things they found I had not tossed for them. Now I know better, they were bringing me the bounty of their hunt.
There are a few schools of thought as to why they will bring you their prey. Ethologist Paul Leyhausen proposes that cats adopt their humans into the social group. As humans, he believes that we are at the top of the pecking order and therefore rate to share the “kill”. Desmond Morris, the author of “Catwatching”, believes on the other hand that they are trying to teach us to hunt much as they would one of their own kittens. Still a third idea is that this behavior is a relic of a kitten trying to gain the approval of its mother, as to its hunting prowess.
There are also some misconceptions about cats hunting. A cat that has been declawed can still hunt, I know I owned one. Keentya used to bat any mouse that entered his domain with his front paws. It seemed to me that he had stunned the mouse with this activity. It never went farther than that if I was around; I would rescue the mouse and put it outside. But Keentya was no slouch when it came to hunting without front claws.
While mother cats (queens) teach their kittens to hunt, the instinct to do so is hard-wired into the kitten. The mother teaches the kitten to hunt, to augment their skills and become a better hunter. I have seen orphaned kittens that are unbelievable hunters, using just as much stealth and cunning as their adult counterparts.
Cats do not necessarily prefer birds or mice; they hunt where the opportunity presents itself and will hunt the trail of least resistance. For example, if my cat Munchkin can get to a mouse on the ground, she will do that as opposed to climbing up the barn roof to try to catch a pigeon that can fly away from her. We have had an issue with the occasional bird, but thankfully those events are few and far between, as the cats know I am displeased when they bring a bird home.
Living in the country now, I spend as much time outside in nice weather as I can and so do the cats. They hunt grasshoppers and other insects, mice, voles, elephant shrews, and rats. Sometimes I am gifted with an entire mouse, sometimes just a bit of what is left. I don’t think they are trying to teach me to hunt, I think they are bringing me a trophy. They don’t seem to be distressed after the trophy is missing; they just go and get another one. 
I have become philosophical where the cats are concerned. If I continue to let them outside they will continue to hunt, no matter how well-fed on CANIDAE Cat and Kitten they are. However, they are ridding us of vermin that are not welcome in our garden, chicken house or home. Because of the skills of my feline family I don’t need to use chemicals or bug repellants to get rid of the mice, rats or other things we find around the farm and for that I am truly grateful.
So if your feline friend brings you home a treasure one day, remember to smile and show how proud of them you are. They could just be saving your pantry.

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