Cats have probably been famous for hunting mice and rats for just as long as cats and people have been together. As bizarre as it might appear to some people, cats are not born knowing how to hunt. Kittens learn to hunt from watching their mothers. Her kittens will learn to be good hunters if the mother cat is a good hunter. Interestingly, kittens seem to learn the best off their mothers. They do not really appear to learn as well or as easily off watching other adult cats.
In the beginning
From about five or six weeks old, a mother cat should start teaching her kittens how to hunt. In the beginning she brings dead mice to the kittens. She may eat some of the mice in
front of the kittens. This way she is showing them that mice are simply their prey and also that they are good to eat. As time goes on the kittens begin to play with the dead rodents their mother
brings them. Eventually the kittens are flinging the dead mice all around and pouncing on them. When they’re at this stage, it’s a good idea to stand clear of them One might get slapped by a flying rodent if you don’t!
The kittens learn to hunt live prey
After some time, the mother starts bringing rodents which are still half alive and releases them for the kittens to practice on. Very soon the kittens are jumping on and flinging these
mice around with the same confidence as they did the earlier dead ones their mother brought them. Mother start bringing live, healthy mice and releases them for the kittens to practice
on. The very first time the mother cat releases a live rodent, and it tries to run off, there’s immediate bedlam amongst the kittens. Wildly excited, the kittens start flying around trying to
jump onto the running rodent zigging and zagging in between them. If the mouse escapes the kittens, the mother will ordinarily swat it back into play. By now the kittens are so over
excited they’re leaping at just about anything which moves. The rodent, a blade of grass, a blowing leaf or perhaps one another, are all up for grabs to the kittens. Not surprisingly, the rodent frequently escapes during these early lessons.
Practice makes perfect
As the lessons progress the kittens get much more discriminating in their targets and develop their skills in catching the agile and quick mice. These lessons don’t always
go smoothly. One kitten got the surprise of her life when a large rodent she was chasing unexpectedly rose in front of her and started taunting her at the top of it’s lungs. The mouse
was apparently so fed up with the whole business that it actually leaped at the kitten. The startled kitten fell over backward and the mouse darted away to safety. Live and learn.
Time to go on a real hunt
Eventually, the mother cat will decide that the kittens are ready for their first real hunt. She will take them out to a good area that she knows should have an abundance of mice
for the kittens to practice on. She does not show her hunting technique to the kittens. Instead, allows them to develop their own unique styles on these hunting forays. Each
kitten learns the techniques which work most effectively for them. By the end of their lessons the Kittens have become fine mousers in their own.