Why Do Cats Bring You Dead Animals?


By dropping dead mice at your feet, your cat may think he’s giving you a great gift. Photo: olfiika

Why do cats bring you dead animals? Hunting comes naturally to cats.

Sure, nowadays lots of cats are house pets (600 million and counting), and don’t have to deal with actually hunting down their food anymore — but that wild animal instinct remains intact.

Domestic cats may think of us humans as unprofessional hunters, and so it may just be that they want to teach us how to chase and kill for their own survival.

In fact, many farmers use cats to clean out and control the population of unwanted rodents in barns and grain bins. This setup works well for both parties.

Why Do Cats Bring You Dead Animals?

Your Cat May Be Bringing You a Gift

Or it could be that your feline friend is presenting the mouse as a gift — your kitty probably thinks she is doing you a great favor by depositing dead mice at your bedside or on your couch.

So don’t scold your cat (and try not to let your horror show) when she presents you with such a gift. Think of how you like to be treated when you give someone a present. Plaster on a fake smile, scoop up the dead mouse, discreetly throw it in the trash (or bury it), and go about your day.

The Hunting Instinct in Cats

The book Understanding Your Cat, by the well-known veterinarian and animal behavior expert Michael W. Fox, disagrees with the “gift theory,” arguing that “it is less a tribute or token offering to you than an instinct.”

Dr. Fox says that bringing dead mice to you is simply a natural behavior in cats.

For example, mother cats bring food to their babies. When the kittens get a little older, Mama may bring them injured prey, or even live prey, so the kittens can learn that, by killing this prey, they will have food.

Without this valuable lesson, the kittens would not survive in the wild.

What to Do if Your Cat Brings You Dead Animals

  • Stay Calm and Collected: Don’t panic or show disgust.
  • Dispose of the Dead Animal: Safely and discreetly.
  • Distract and Redirect Your Cat’s Hunting Instincts: Use toys or interactive play.
  • Consider Housing Your Cat Indoors: To limit hunting opportunities.
  • Utilize Outdoor Enclosures or Leash Training: For safe outdoor time.
  • Implement Wildlife-Friendly Measures: To protect local wildlife.
  • Spaying or Neutering Your Cat: Can reduce hunting behavior.
  • Reinforce Other Behaviors: Encourage alternative behaviors with positive reinforcement.


Understanding why do cats bring you dead animals can help you better respond to this behavior. Whether it’s a sign of affection, a teaching moment, or simply instinct, recognizing the reasons behind these actions allows for a more harmonious relationship with your feline friend.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Why do cats bring you dead animals?

Cats bring dead animals to you as a way to share their hunting success, teach hunting skills, or offer a gift.

Why do stray cats bring you dead animals?

Stray cats bring dead animals to you as a way of sharing their hunting success or seeking your approval and attention.

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