Do cats kill rats? They can, but in reality, they probably will not. Learn more about why cats are surprisingly bad at killing rats, and better forms of rat control that you should try instead!
If you grew up watching Tom and Jerry, you probably imagine that all cats chase mice and rats. Keeping house cats and even allowing stray cats to linger on or around the property has been a long-standing traditional attempt at rat control. After all, it is a known fact that cats are rats natural predator, right?
Employing cats as a form of rat control is a passive and sometimes convenient solution (if you are a cat lover!) But research shows that this supposedly simple solution is not reliable. In fact, there is evidence that what we believe about cats and rats is just not true! Neither domesticated cats nor feral cats can be counted on to defend your home against rats.
Do Cats Kill Rats?
Image courtesy of the Humane Society
Can cats kill rats and will cats kill rats are two completely different questions. For starters, cats kill out of necessity, not for sport or fun. Most all domesticated and feral cats have the physiological advantages needed to kill rats. They can, but they usually don’t kill rats.
Will a cat kill a rat if provoked? Yes. In a rare instance when a cat kills rats it is because the cat feels threatened. Although many cats shy away from confrontation with rats altogether.
A Study of City Rats and Cats
Rat populations in United States urban areas like Washington DC and New York City can easily get out of control. In open floor abandoned or unkempt spaces, a rat colony can take hold quickly. Blue-collar cats don’t stand a chance in these rat-infested areas! Truth is, the average cat is intimidated by the size and ferocity of overgrown city rats. Cats sense immediately that they will be outnumbered because they know that where there is one rat, there are many more close by.
Image courtesy of Business Insider
A study published by Smithsonian magazine found that cats are surprisingly bad at catching and killing rats. The study followed feral cats and city rats, both of which acted in unpredictable ways. The rats were decidedly more aggressive than expected, and the cats’ performance as hunters was underwhelming. In fact, over the course of more than 70 days the cats had only two successful kills and the rat population remained steady at a whopping 150!
The study also revealed that rats changing their behavior to adapt to the presence of cats was common. Motion-triggered cameras captured interactions between the two animals that displayed rats taking smart and cautionary action in the presence of felines. For example, rats learned to avoid open floor chase and direct confrontation with cats in wide-open spaces because cats were only successful when ambushing their prey. Ultimately, rats proved to be successful at adapting to conditions where felines were present and securing means of survival.
A different study, published in Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution, further confirms these findings. Over the course of 80 days, urban feral cats managed only three successful kills and rats changed their behavior to avoid capture or death. Cats simply seemed to prefer to hunt less difficult prey! Cat programs aimed at lowering rat infestation and populations are not showing much promise, as cats consistently stalk and kill many more birds than they do rats.
Do cats kill rats? Studies definitively show that they do only a small fraction of the time. This means that if you are solely relying on a single cat for rat control that you are unprotected and under-prepared.
Dangers of Feral Cats
Feral cats are not typically a serious threat when it comes to transmitting diseases to humans. But like rats, they can carry diseases that can make humans sick. Their claws and mouths can harbor different strains of harmful bacteria and viruses.
If you are bitten or scratched by a stray cat you should wash the area ASAP with soap and hot water!
Do Cats Kill Rats? Effective Rat Control Alternatives
If cats are not the solution to rat control then what is? If you want to protect your home and keep rats away for good, you need to contact your friendly local experts at Green Rat Control. They can walk you through a step-by-step strategy for successful rat control that doesn’t leave anything up to chance.
To start, our qualified inspectors perform an inspection of your home to identify all current and potential entry points. They will inspect the lower crawlspace, the attic, the roof, garage, and the entire exterior perimeter. All rodent entry points will be found and a trapping system will be installed in the infested areas. After the inspection is completed, your inspector will fill out a rodent exclusion report and go over the details of the report with you.
Included in your report is a proposal for Green Rat Control to repair all of the entry points of your home. Your inspector will also give you a detailed sanitation report which addresses any rodent damage that has been done to insulation, air ducts, and your vapor barrier.
To keep rats out you need professionals to fill in all holes and entry points. Once we’ve found the entry point, we fill the holes with steel wool or copper mesh. We make sure to fully extended the product through the length of the hole. Next, we’ll prevent rodent activity by installing safe trapping systems where the rodents are most active and ensure that every one of them is caught.