In the wild, cats are excellent hunters. Although they usually prey on and eat primarily mice, they can also kill rats from time to time. But what happens when your cat eats a rat? Is it poisonous for them or harmless? Here you will find the answer.
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My Cat was Hunting a Rat!
You may have experienced it too – staring at a dead rat on your doormat in a mixture of horror, disgust and amazement. This can occasionally happen if you have a free-roaming cat that likes to hunt. But, in principle, you don’t need to worry about it because cats are good at judging whether or not they are putting themselves in danger when hunting.
Cats rarely consume their prey if they are otherwise well-fed. Generally, domestic cats hunt because their instincts tell them. They are training for the emergency so that they might be on their own out in the wild, even if it never happens.
Essentially, mice fall victim to your cat’s hunting instinct – but exceptionally talented hunters also dare to take on larger prey such as rats. However, it cannot be completely ruled out that cats also eat the captured mice and rats. Unlike shrews, rodents are basically part of the natural diet of our cats.
Is it Dangerous for my Cat to Eat a Rat?
It depends on several factors whether it is dangerous for cats to eat rats. An adult, healthy and vigorous cat that eats a small rat usually has nothing to worry about. However, rodents can carry toxoplasmosis pathogens or worms. These can pass to the cat when consumed. In contrast to dogs, the velvet paws usually survive a toxoplasmosis infection unharmed. However, they still excrete the pathogen.
It can be dangerous if chronically ill, immunocompromised, or very young cats come into contact with it. Pregnant women and immunocompromised people should also beware of toxoplasmosis and, for example, leave the cleaning of the litter box to others.
On the other hand, worms are a problem for all cats when they become infected. The parasites can cause anemia, deficiencies and digestive problems. Prevention is essential here. Give your outdoor cat a regular worming treatment to ensure no parasites take up residence in its intestines.
Spot-on preparations are an excellent alternative to tablets or drops, as you only need to dab the product on the back of the neck. The active ingredient is absorbed through the skin. Ask your vet for the best possible solution!
A very rare but theoretically possible danger is so-called secondary poisoning. This can occur when cats eat rats that had previously ingested poison.
My Cat ate a Rat: Do I need to go to the Vet?
If your cat has eaten a rat, you do not have to go to the vet immediately. However, watch her closely to see if she shows any noticeable changes in behavior. Warning signs that indicate an emergency, such as secondary poisoning, include the following:
- Convulsions and seizures
- Difficulty breathing
- Unusually pale mucous membranes
If you are unsure and afraid for your pet, a visit to the vet is also recommended!
Can I prevent possible dangers caused by eating rats?
You cannot completely prevent your cat from hunting mice and rats if they are free-rangers. In the process, they may also eat their prey.
However, for example, you can reduce the risk of poisoning and secondary poisoning. For example, if you want to control rats, do not resort to rat poison but rather to traps. Also, consider securing your garden with a cat fence. In this way, you can limit the risk of your cat catching rats at your neighbor’s house that may be carrying poison.
Cats are usually Bad Rat Hunters
You should not rely on your cat if you want to drive away rats. The animals hunt rats only when they can’t find anything else to eat. Even dogs are better rat catchers.
Cats are only of limited help in the fight against rats. This is what American Researchers in New York have found out. They observed a rat colony for several months with video cameras, in whose proximity feral cats came regularly. Within 79 days, the cats killed only two rats when cats were on site.
Rats are too big and too aggressive for cats – Cats only hunt rats when there is nothing else available.