Most cat parents have probably spent hours watching their furry companions stalking and attacking their favorite toys. They crouch, chase, wrestle and pounce on slow-moving objects or creatures with their sharp claws and teeth, like merciless predators. But what many pet lovers do not know is that not all cats are killing machines.
If you are specifically looking for a feline to help guard your property against rodents, you might be wondering which gender is a better hunter. Do male cats hunt? Read below to find out!
Which cat gender hunts better?
Both male and female cats have the ability to hunt, but whether they actually do will depend on their personalities and how they were raised from kittenhood. However, many animal experts believe that females tend to show the best hunting skills due to their maternal instincts.
Males usually hunt for leisure, while females hunt with a strong purpose. That is because females need to provide food for their litters. Mother cats are also responsible for teaching their kittens how to hunt so that they can grow up able to feed themselves. Hence, female cats are likely to spend more time hunting, making them better hunters than their male counterparts.
Do male cats hunt?
Male cats hunt, just like their female peers. However, a cat’s strong predatory drive can be influenced as much by its personality and environment as its gender. Hence, some male cats might hunt to ensure that their stomachs are full, while others hunt just to keep themselves entertained.
A cat’s earlier years might also influence his hunting abilities. For example, kittens that are raised by a mother cat are more likely to learn to hunt than those who have grown up without a mother. Hence, kittens that have been abandoned or adopted by humans are less likely to be good hunters, regardless of their gender.
Factors that affect a cat’s hunting abilities
While hunting is an ingrained trait in cats, there are several factors that might impact a cat’s ability to hunt, no matter their gender. These factors include:
Your furry friend might look adorable on the outside, while being a merciless killer on the inside. Be it a teasing bird or a squeaking mouse, he might pounce on any creature he perceives as prey.
However, not all cats have the desire to kill their catch. While hunting is one of the many natural traits in cats, their level of socialization might also impact their hunting drive. In the wild, cats primarily hunt for survival. But for domesticated cats, hunting could just be a form of entertainment – particularly for males.
Some domesticated cats might abandon an injured creature once they are tired of playing with it, while others might bring their half-dead prey as gifts to their humans. These behaviors tend to be equally common among well-fed male and female cats.
Our whiskered friends want to be praised for their hunting prowess, so do not feel bad if you find a gruesome gift on your doorstep. Instead, give Fluffy lots of petting for a job well done and, carefully, throw the dead animal away when he is not looking.
2. Feeding routine
Some cat owners might intentionally starve their cats to force them to hunt rodents that are lurking in and around their properties. But this trick might not work on all domesticated cats.
Cats that are used to being fed are less likely to hunt even if they are not given enough food to eat. In fact, some cats can even become aggressive toward their humans if they are not fed enough.
On the other hand, a happy, well-fed cat might actually have more energy to hunt. Both males and females love practicing their hunting skills while also keeping themselves entertained. So, if you want your felines to help you get rid of rats, do not forget to feed them on time.
3. Kittens’ upbringing
Kittens raised domestically will not have the same predatory drive as their wild or feral cousins.
Domesticated kittens are generally fed by their mother cat’s milk and, later, food from their human caretakers. Hence, these cats will likely grow up without well-developed hunting skills, even though a part of their hunting instinct will be retained.
In the wild, a mother cat will usually hunt and present the prey in front of her litter to teach her younglings how to hunt. Chasing and killing smaller animals is their primary method of survival, and the mother cat must teach her kittens how to survive the outdoors. Kittens must learn how to use their claws and teeth to catch their meals and avoid starvation.
A domesticated mother cat will be less likely to impart such strong hunting skills to her kittens. Hence, some cats will grow up to hunt only for fun, while others might not show any interest in hunting at all. Cats that are well-socialized with other smaller pets like hamsters will also be less likely to hunt, as they no longer perceive these animals as prey.
4. State of wildness
For feral cats, hunting is a necessity for survival. In fact, most community cats spend 50 percent of their time hunting for their next meal. A single cat will have an average of four kills every day. But, while male feral cats tend to have bigger appetites than females, they do not spend as much time hunting as the females. This is, in part, due to the mother cat’s role in providing additional food for her kittens.
For the purposes of survival, feral cats are more likely to be better hunters than indoor cats. As obligate carnivores, wild and community cats can only survive and reproduce through hunting. On the other hand, household cats do not need to rely on hunting as they are well-provided for by their human companions.
Do male cats still hunt after being neutered?
Hormones do not influence a cat’s hunting behavior, so your furry friend will chase that annoying rat whether he is neutered or not. As a descendant of fierce predators, his hunting drive is instinctual. Hence, under the right circumstances, a neutered cat is still likely to catch or even eat any potential prey he stumbles upon.
Do all cats hunt?
While all cats love hunting, not all of them might kill or eat their prey. As with other animals, eating their prey is a learned behavior. However, most of our domesticated cats are well-provided with food and therefore do not need to rely on their killing instinct to survive. In most cases, well-fed cats will only catch birds and rodents for entertainment.
Cat breeds that are less likely to hunt
All cats have the instinct to hunt, but not every cat really loves the thrill of the chase. Certain cat breeds have a lower predatory drive and are generally more lethargic, meaning they would rather chill the entire day than go on a hunting escapade. Some cats with such docile and laid-back personalities include Persians, Ragdolls, and exotic shorthairs.
Just like their female peers, male cats do hunt. However, not every cat is an exceptional hunter. Some might have well-developed hunting skills to survive in the wild, while others might just be too well-fed and lazy to explore their surroundings looking for potential prey.
If you are looking for a gifted mouser to solve your rodent problem, remember that the cat’s upbringing and internal traits are the biggest influence on its hunting behavior, rather than its gender.
Image: istockphoto.com / Nataba