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Predation - Cats Who Kill or Chase Small Animals

Predation is actually a sequence of behaviors that if taken to their end point, result in the killing of an animal, presumably for food. However, cats can show part of the predatory sequence, such as chasing, stalking or pouncing without ever killing an animal. Sometimes they will catch a bird or small animal and bring it home alive. Predatory problems can range from just annoying to extremely dangerous for other animals and you should take steps to either control or change your cat’s behavior or both.

Fast movement of any sort can stimulate the chasing or pouncing part of predatory behavior. A bird hopping across the yard can elicit chasing or pouncing. This is why feathers on a string are such good toys for cats.

Your cat can become infested with parasites by killing animals, so it’s in your best interest, and your cat’s, to prevent this. Check with your veterinarian about the health issues involved.

Your first step in stopping your pet’s predatory behavior is to control your pet’s environment. This may mean keeping your cat indoors, confining her to an outdoor enclosure or only letting her out under supervision. Respect laws that prohibit your cat from roaming freely.

While a bell on your cat’s collar may help, some cats learn to creep up on critters and keep the bell silent. Any collar must be of a safe, break away type so you cat can’t get caught and strangle herself.

All things considered, it’s just not a good idea to allow your cat to roam. If you want to give her outside time, train her to walk on a leash and harness, (yes, cats can be trained!), install a cat-proof barrier on your fence so she can’t leave your yard, or give her an outside pen or enclosure.

You can learn how to provide your cat with what she needs to lead a stimulating, fulfilling life indoors with our program Helping Kitty Be Good . It is available in DVD and audio CD formats and gives you an abundance of ways to create a cat-friendly indoor environment.

It is possible to help your cat become less reactive to his triggers for predatory behaviors. This may require counter conditioning and desensitization behavior management tools such as a leash and harness and even appropriate punishment for the behavior.


To help your cat adapt to an indoor life, get our DVD Helping Kitty Be Good. Here you’ll learn what cats want and need to be healthy and happy as indoor cats.

We also recommend our two hour audio CD program Using Counter Conditioning and Desensitization Techniques Effectively to Modify Behavior to learn about the most effective techniques for changing behavior in cats and dogs.

Animal Behavior Associates - Helping Kitty
4994 S. Independence Way
Littleton, CO 80123

Phone: 303-932-9095
Fax: 303-932-2298