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My cat Zacky is an indoor/outdoor cat, and he's forever bringing home prey that he catches. Every week or so, ... sure what else to do. I really want to discourage such behavior. Any ideas? -Garret garret at garretswayne dot com

I use a bell on my Freddy, which helps. Also I don't let him out in the dark or early morning when he's most likely to hunt.
Adam
Well thanks for all the comments. I know hunting is an instinct in cats. But really, that doesn't make me feel any better about it when I have to pick up the broken body of a terrified, mortally wounded bird! There are a lot of instincts which we civilized types would like to discourage in our kitty companions! The two suggestions that I found most interesting were:

-to stick a bell on Zack's neck to warn the birds of his stealthy approach (This is a practical suggestion I will seriously consider.)

-to not react with anger or displeasure at the sight of his kill, for it's really a "gift" that he's offering me and I don't want to appear "ungracious".
Now this latter observation, I must say, I can't help but be skeptical about. Is that really true? Or are we just stretching to ascribe "positive" human attributes to our feline buddies, whom we love and cherish? If cats were really "givers" by nature, I'd think they're smart enough to figure out a lot of other things we'd prefer to receive rather than a dead carcass! Seriously, is there any scientific research to suggest that they really are bringing us what they consider a "gift"? And that by my expressing displeasure, I will only encourage more of the offensive behavior? I would think that by praising the animal, that's what would encourage more of the killing behavior! But I'm open to being educated about this, from valid scientific sources.
The question I'm really asking is this: Is there any way in the world to teach a cat the concept of compassion? That'd be a nice trick, eh? Like maybe a cat who's been traumatized by a larger predatory animal like a dog or a cayote might be able to develop some sense of identification with the smaller victims they terrorize? No, I'm not suggesting throwing the cat to a pack of cayotes! But I'm wondering, can cats be taught compassion, and if so, how?
-Garret
I have some stray cats in the neighborhood who hang out in my yard, and when the birds come around to eat their food, they just look at them like "eh...you again..ok". My cats indoors, start "chirping" at them. Not sure if they'd know what to do with them if they were allowed out.

A hug a day keeps the blues away Emotion: big smile
-to not react with anger or displeasure at the sight of his kill, for it's really a "gift" that he's ... carcass! Seriously, is there any scientific research to suggest that they really are bringing us what they consider a "gift"?

I don't think looking at it as a "gift" is the right perpective. As you say, it's too complex a trait to attribute to a cat.

Mother cats will bring home kills for the kittens. That may be the basis of the evolution of the instinct. Instincts aren't reasoned, they are built in.
Most likely the instinct operates in females even when they don't have kittens and in males even though they don't normally provide food for kittens.
After a cat kills it's prey and eats it's fill it is no longer hungry and it's no longer satisfying the hunting instinct.

Therefore weaker instincts are going to take over. It's going to return home, why not take the animal with it? It's not a complex behavior, it doesn't require complex motives to operate.
We once had a mother cat bring home a full grown pheasant. Small cat, really large bird.
Well thanks for all the comments. I know hunting is an instinct in cats. But really, that doesn't make me ... the cat to a pack of cayotes! But I'm wondering, can cats be taught compassion, and if so, how? -Garret

My cat was traumatized by a dog when she was a little bitty and shows no mercy to anything smaller than her - including my hand. So it might have to be assaulted by something smaller to realize that brawn doesn't always work. Just sayin'..
Kathy
-to not react with anger or displeasure at the sight ... they really are bringing us what they consider a "gift"?

I don't think looking at it as a "gift" is the right perpective. As you say, it's too complex a ... motives to operate. We once had a mother cat bring home a full grown pheasant. Small cat, really large bird.

Large birds of prey will sometimes kill cats..I had a cat who was almost killed by a large osprey..It swooped down onto my rear deck while the cat was sunning itself, and almost got it..Fortunately, the cat door to our bedroom was right next to the cat, so it escaped inside before the bird could get her..but it was a close call..
William Graham submitted this idea :
You could put a liberator collar on him though that ... is natural for them to bring their prey home. Alison

Yes. At least mine puts the bodies on the floor somewhere. (usually the bathroom floor) I had a friend whose cat used to leave the bird's feet on his pillow..:[/nq]^)

My female cat does all the hunting.
My lazy tomcat then stuffs dead mice under the furniture.

Count Baldoni
BALDONI REX ROMANORUM
on 17/06/2007, William Graham supposed :

^)
One of the defining moments of my teen years was ... though she had had cats in her life since girlhood.

Yeah...I'm always afraid I will insult them if I don't show pleasure..After all, they are giving you a gift to pay you back for all the food you give them..When you go to the supermarket, I figure they think you are out hunting..

I never thought of it like that.

Count Baldoni
BALDONI REX ROMANORUM
Well thanks for all the comments. I know hunting is an instinct in cats. But really, that doesn't make me ... what would encourage more of the killing behavior! But I'm open to being educated about this, from valid scientific sources.

Cats are social animals; they're not pack hunters, but they are social animals. Feral and semi-feral colonies have been videotaped; females share prey with their offspring and with their sisters. They not only babysit but actually nurse each other's kittens. Even the males, who rove more, will sometimes share prey with the resident females.
When we bring cats into our homes, we make ourselvs part of their "colony," their social grouping. And they respond to us in some ways as if they were our kittens, in some ways as if we were their kittens, in some ways as if we were their siblings. Sharing prey is a normal and natural part of that. And no, even though sharing is normal for them and they are bringing us a gift when they bring us prey, they are not smart enough to figure out that it's not the kind of "gift" we want nor would they have much ability to bring us a different kind of gift even if they did figure it out.

It's not like they can take their American Express card and pick up something nice at Nordstrom's, after all. What they do is hunt, and they share with us what they catch. It should give you a warm glow.
It's too bad Zack has apparently focused on birds as his preferred prey, rather than rodents. You do want to prevent or discourage that, if you can. Keep him indoors, or put bells on his collar.
The question I'm really asking is this: Is there any way in the world to teach a cat the concept ... throwing the cat to a pack of cayotes! But I'm wondering, can cats be taught compassion, and if so, how?

No, you can't teach your cat compassion for members of its natural prey species. They're cats, the most efficient predators on the planet (number of species killed, number of individuals killed, hunting success rate cats are deadly hunters.) Sharing with colony members is part of their repertoire; compassion for prey species is not. A cat traumatized by a larger predator will not feel any sense of identification with its own prey; it will just be a traumatized cat.

The most effective way of preventing your cat from killing the local bird population is by keeping him indoors. If that's not practical, put bells on his collar, and that will reduce his success rate.

Lis
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