So, why did it take almost two days for my three cats to deal with a single mouse?
The short answer: My cats have it easy, they haven’t been taught that mice are great food, and they are out of practice.
They are fed regularly and have some play opportunities, but these games don’t mimic catching a rodent and killing it. So they only saw the mouse as a toy.
When weanling kittens are with their mother in a natural setting, the queen will introduce them to food by bringing them fresh prey to eat. Gradually over time, she will teach them to hunt and kill their own food by refining their natural hunting instincts. They learn that mice or birds or other small creatures are ‘food’.
However, cats in our homes will learn that the dry kibble or canned food (or occasional treat) we give them is ‘food’. For my cats chicken, especially Swiss Chalet, falls firmly under the definition of preferred food.
There has been research on whether these ‘definitions’ of food are learned early in life and then set for life. Right now, it seems that a preference for canned or dry food or fresh prey is strong, but not unchangeable later in life.
One way this might affect you and your cats — if kitty needs to have a diet change, then slow and gradual is definitely the way to go. Dr. Tony Buffington has a great resource called ‘The Indoor Pet Initiative’, or you can give us a call.
So I can relax with the knowledge that if we are over-run with mice, the cats will probably pick up their game and improve on the dismal performance last time.