Contrary to wild cats, which instinctively hunt to get food, domesticated cats need to learn how to hunt, for the simple reason that it is not a vital need for them.
How do they learn to hunt? How can you stimulate their instinct?
Learning to hunt: the leading role of the mother cat
The mother of a domesticated cat is the first one to play a role in developing a kitten’s preying instinct. Kittens learn the basics of hunting around five weeks old, as soon as they are able to walk on their own, by observing their mother’s behaviour.
She doesn’t just attack her prey and eat it in front of her kittens, she also produces sounds to attract their attention. Then, she brings the prey closer to the kittens and starts eating the animal. Kittens will start by playing with the prey and, after a while, they will go hunting on their own.
Hunting becomes more important than playing
Around eight weeks old, kittens stop playing with the prey and start behaving like actual hunters: hunting then becomes more important than playing. However, after catching a prey and eating it, they easily go back to playing with their siblings or cat friends.
How can you stimulate a cat’s hunting instinct?
Some kittens don’t get a chance to learn the basics of hunting with their mother, and you may want to get involved in their development. You can stimulate kittens with certain activities like pursuit games and fake preys.
Be cautious: Rather than using your hands as playing instruments, try to find a small ball or a feather attached to a string.
How do cats hunt?
Cats have a very precise and organized hunting technique: they first locate the prey. Then they carry out several manoeuvres to get closer: lie flat and move furtively to stay unnoticed, retract their back legs when the prey comes closer, and eventually, put on a final sprint to catch the victim.
How senses take part in the hunting learning process
Felines are fitted with a very sensitive sense of hearing, and can identify noises and ultrasounds made by their preys, sometimes from several kilometers away.
Prevent your kitten from running away too far in its first days of hunting by using Weenect products to trace its moves and find it easily when hunting expeditions last a little bit too long.
A cat’s sight allows it to link image to sounds, whereas its smell seems to play a minor role. The sense of taste is complementary to the other sense and helps cats choosing the most mouth-watering preys, instead of bitter insects!