Why Do Cats Play With Mice Before Killing Them?

Have you ever seen a cat playing with a mouse before killing and eating them? If you answered “yes” to this question, keep reading for an interesting take on this. If not, but are curious about this interesting behavior, read on!

Cats are known for their unpredictable and sometimes horrible “playful” behaviors such as killing mice and birds or even eating them alive.

But why do cats play with these creatures before killing and eating them?

To understand why cats play with their kill before eating it, we need to understand the feline predatory behavior as well as the cat’s hunting drive.

My Cat Caught A Mouse But Didn’t Kill It!

If a cat spends a lot time looking a mouse over before killing it, it could mean that the cat is just enjoying the hunt in its own right and not because it needs food at all.

The cat might get into the spirit of the hunt and want to keep playing with the mouse until it has eaten it.

Rather than play with the kill, some cats will simply walk away carrying the dead mouse in its mouth.

If a cat were hungry, it would eat the mouse immediately to keep from losing energy and becoming weak from starvation.

When a hungry cat goes out and sees a mouse, it will probably not spend time with the mouse before killing it in order to get back to eating as soon as possible.

Because there are no calories to burn when playing with prey, a hungry cat will snap a mouse’s neck quickly after playing with it for a few minutes.

A well-fed cat is more likely to play with the mouse for longer periods of time for fun rather than for hunger reasons.

This signifies that the mouse will sometimes live to see another day when hunting a hungry cat, and vice versa when hunting a playing cat.

When a cat is hungry, it will waste no time killing its prey.

As long as it’s not injured or in distress, the cat will spend more time playing with the mouse than killing it.

Each cat is unique when it comes to hunting mice.

Cats are naturally inclined to play with mice in order to satisfy their hunting instincts.

A cat is far more likely to appreciate a kill if it is hungry.

Cats, when left to their own devices, will often choose to have fun over practicality whenever possible.

It’s not uncommon for cats to catch mice but lose interest and decide to play with the kill instead.

It all depends on how hungry the cat is and whether it is tired or bored.

Why Do Cats Play With Their Prey Before Killing Them?

Cats are ambush hunters and will pounce on their prey by surprise, so they need extra time to prepare them properly for eating.

To eliminate parasites from their meal and to calm their nerves before killing their prey, cats play with their food by batting and biting it with their paws and teeth — or they may just lick it with their tongue or whiskers.

This behavior may be hard to witness, but it’s their way of making sure that they’re biting the most nutritious part of the prey and not transferring any diseases from animal to animal — or catching any themselves.

Cats are predators in the wild, and they’re very good at hiding and creeping up on other animals, so they benefit from practicing these skills in a simulated kill scenario before actually killing the prey in the wild.

Cats use play as a way to calm their nerves and relieve stress after a stressful situation in the wild or in their home.

Cats like to look good in front of their human handlers, so they may groom their kill by licking it so that it looks clean and still fresh for consumption.

Although this behavior might appear strange to us, it’s normal for them and is a sign of affection. Cats are affectionate animals and will be attracted to the smell of their prey.

Although cats will often eat their prey immediately when hungry, if they’re playing first, then they are likely just enjoying the experience and will likely keep playing with their food before eating it.

How Long Do Cats Play With Mice Before Killing Them?

While some cats hunt mice only occasionally, others do it more than once a day.

This might have an effect as to how long a cat will play with a mouse before killing them.

Most cats will play with kill a mouse after 5 to 15 minutes of chasing it or “preying” on it.

According on the feline’s excitement, it may struggle to kill the mouse after a few minutes.

Whenever a cat hears the sound of a mouse running in its direction, the chase is on.

It’s common knowledge among cat owners that a cat whose owner is home will often play with the mouse for an extended time before killing it.

Amusement-seeking cats are more tolerant, and harder to distract with a toy.

Because they’re on the lookout for mice from sun up to sun down, many cats play with the rodents for hours and this could lead to the cat killing them before they eat them.

Do Cats Just Play With Mice?

Like cats, rodents are sharing space in cages and boxes with humans; cats have no choice but to share a small house with this species; this makes any physical threat too much to bear for felines.

In contrast to cats, prey desires to avoid pain and protect itself by fleeing quickly.

In other words, a rat or mouse is attacked by a lion and is injured and in pain when it dies; or, a cat is attacked by a predator and is injured and in pain when it.

Despite the dangers, mice and rats often choose to be playmates.

Despite their small size, rodents can transmit diseases to humans and other pets.

Stalking cats are likely trying to catch mice and other rodents for a meal, not to just play with them for fun.

If the bite goes for the toes or paws, this would be equivalent to the foot of a crane biting a komodo dragon.

A wide range of mouse toys is available nowadays, which can also entertain the cats.

When seen through the eyes of a cat owner, the attacking and using of prey as a toy, is nothing more than the way a cat is governed to live.

The cat is not playing; it is killing or killing itself.

Others refer to a cat playing with its prey as chasing a mouse or a rat around and around its neck until being suffocated to death.

Why Do Cats Play With Their Prey After Its Dead?

After a prey is killed, the cat will attempt to eat it as quickly as possible to avoid scaring the prey away.

Behind the most part, it will end the the hunt on its own without you having to take too much notice.

Firstly, the cat might stop playing if it is distracted, even if it is playing with its prey.

It’s possible it’s unaware it’s killed its prey and isn’t being malicious about it, so simply get the cat’s attention from the toy and redirect it to something else.

After hitting and throwing the prey for a while, it will lose interest and wander off to catch some sleep or play with your toys instead.

The cat will eventually get the message that it should stop this behavior because it could be seriously injurious to your health.

Perhaps the cat is simply being playful and isn’t aware that it’s killed something precious to you.

The cat is angry or upset for a reason; allow it to vent that anger before looking over its shoulders for reprimands.

It’s still going through the motions of hunting for prey, which is exciting and engaging for the cat.

Eventually, the cat will get bored and give it up.

Finally, it’s possible that the prey was alive when the cat killed it, and the cat didn’t immediately notice it was dead and that it had been killed.

According to a research published in the British Journal of Psychology, creating a distraction may put an end to the ritual of playing dead by a cat.

Toys like these might lead to needless deaths of the animals the cat is playing with.

Distract your cat if it’s coming after prey since it’s obviously still interested in pursuing the prey and won’t necessarily abandon the hunt if you distract it.

Also Read: Why Does Your Cat Pee in the Shower Drain?


Cats seem to delight in torturing their prey and then killing them by strangling them or biting them; however, this is an act that is inborn and not an act motivated by pleasure or by evil intent.

Keep in mind that if your cat plays with mice before killing them, it is doing this because it anticipates a prettier kill than it would be capable of holding forth if left unrestrained.

Your cat is just showing its slayer instinct, guarding and protecting its young and its kill.

Instead than waiting for rodents to tire out, cats often induce panic in them before killing them.