Squirrels are not considered an enemy of cats, but cats are instinctive predators. They will also hunt squirrels for food or entertainment when given the opportunity. Although they prey more often on birds, mice, and other small mammals, it is not uncommon for a cat to hunt squirrels.
Cats prefer to hunt smaller mammals than squirrels because they are easier to catch. However, cats cannot resist the thrill of the chase and may pursue a squirrel if it tries to run away. Feral cats are more likely to chase squirrels to eat them, while domestic cats are more likely to chase to satisfy their predatory instincts.
Because squirrels can carry fleas, mange, and other diseases, you should evaluate cats with a strong hunting instinct for health problems.
Squirrels are bigger than the types of mammals and birds cats are most likely to chase. Therefore, hunting them does not occur too often.
Cats and Squirrels
Feral cats and domestic cats have entirely different personalities because they live in different ways.
Domestic cats are cared for by human owners and usually spend their lives indoors. Feral cats often live in colonies. They hunt for food to survive.
This has a significant impact on whether either cat will chase a squirrel.
Feral Cats That Hunt Squirrels
Feral cats are more likely to chase squirrels than domestic cats. The reason for this is that they need to catch prey to feed.
Unlike domestic cats, whose owners provide food, feral cats rely on their hunting skills to stay alive.
However, one study found that feral cats hunt squirrels less frequently than other mammals, such as rabbits and mice.
Squirrels are fast animals and can hide in trees. Hungry feral cats tend to hunt slower mammals that are easier to catch and kill.
Domestic Cats That Hunt Squirrels
Free-roaming domestic cats, including squirrels, kill millions of mammals and birds each year.
Free-roaming cats cause a much higher mortality rate in wildlife than previously thought and pose a real threat to mammals and birds.
Domestic cats probably hunt squirrels more for fun. After all, they are already provided with food by their owners. Therefore, it is unusual for them to chase a squirrel to eat it. Unless, of course, they enjoy the taste.
Only experienced hunters are capable of actively capturing a squirrel. Most squirrels that are caught are young or injured squirrels.
Healthy adult squirrels rarely become hunting trophies for cats. At least, unless the cat is an expert hunter.
Do Cats Attack Squirrels?
Whether or not a cat will attack a squirrel usually depends on the animal’s personality.
Many cats are happy to go for a walk at night. Others go hunting.
Hunting cats usually present their trophy to their human owners and show them off with pride.
With each catch, the cat’s self-confidence grows. While it is rare for a cat to chase a squirrel, a brave cat may try its luck.
In most cases, however, the squirrel will escape because of its speed and size.
Do Cats Eat Squirrels?
Most domestic cats hunt for entertainment, not to find food.
If a cat catches and kills a squirrel, it usually leaves the dead animal where it got it.
Or she presents it to her owners. In rare cases, she eats the squirrel. Domestic cats that like the taste of mammals or are already fed raw are more likely to eat their prey.
Feral cats are more likely to hunt for food. But they eat mostly scraps and waste. In fact, they will eat anything easy to find.
When they hunt, studies show that they catch the prey most abundant in their area at that time of year.
This means that squirrels in densely wooded urban areas can become the cat’s prey in addition to mice and birds.
My Cat Has Just Killed a Squirrel
If your cat is a skilled hunter, he may have bagged a squirrel. This is a real accomplishment for your cat.
However, it is advisable to examine your cat after its hunting activities. Squirrels have sharp teeth and claws that can easily cause damage if they fight back.
Examine your cat’s fur down to the skin to ensure it has not suffered any significant injuries. Look for scratches, bite wounds, or bald spots in the fur.
Having a cat bring its prey into the house is not particularly pleasant. Your cat is embracing her natural role as a mother and teacher. She wants to teach you how to hunt.
This is a highly developed survival technique and a deeply ingrained part of a cat’s instincts. Unfortunately, you cannot do much to stop your cat’s hunting instincts. Unless, of course, you confine your cat indoors.
However, you should dispose of the killed squirrel hygienically and safely.
To do this, follow these steps:
- Lock your cat outside the room. They will use chemicals to clean, and you don’t want your cat to get near them.
- Wear rubber gloves before picking up the dead squirrel if you have some. If not, use a piece of toilet paper or kitchen roll so you don’t touch the animal directly.
- Put the squirrel in a plastic bag and seal it properly so no air can escape. You should then place it in the trash can.
- If the squirrel has come in contact with a hard surface such as wood or tile, disinfect the area. Scrub the area thoroughly.
- Clean the area with a special shampoo or steam if the squirrel has come in contact with a rug or fabric surface such as carpet or upholstery. Bedding or clothing that has come in contact with the dead squirrel should be washed.
How Cats Hunt Squirrels
Cats are natural predators. They will chase anything that runs away. Squirrels run away and have large, bushy tails that make them an enticing target.
Before a cat pounces on a squirrel, it quietly nestles on the ground so its prey can’t see it. The cat makes itself as small as possible.
Then, it focuses its ears and stares silently at its prey, watching and judging its every move.
When the right time has come to strike, the cat wiggles its hindquarters and lunges forward. As it does so, it moves forward as quickly as possible.
Now, the chase begins. If the squirrel manages to escape, the cat will probably look for another victim.
The chase is over quickly, whether the cat is successful or not.
If you can observe the start of the hunt, you can interrupt the process by scaring the squirrel away or giving away your cat’s position.
Your cat will probably be very focused on her prey and angry with you for a while. But she eventually gets over it when she has something else to do.
It may seem obvious that a cat is superior to a squirrel, but that’s not entirely true. Squirrels are fast and fierce when threatened. Their sharp claws and teeth can do damage when they defend themselves.
Can Cats Catch Squirrels?
Squirrels are master climbers who can quickly scale trees and other vertical platforms.
Cats will only climb as high as safely possible before giving up the chase. Squirrels can also go into small burrows, which means they can avoid cats reasonably quickly.
A cat that climbs too high will get stuck; their instincts generally know better than to try that.
When it comes to hunting, cats are more successful on the ground. Young squirrels that have fallen from their nests or injured squirrels are easier to catch and kill.
When a cat finally gets a hold of a squirrel, it pierces its neck and overpowers its prey rather quickly.
How to Discourage Cats from Hunting Squirrels
You can’t change a cat’s hunting instinct, but it usually subsides as the cat ages.
But you probably don’t want to wait that long if your cat hunts squirrels regularly. If you want to stop your cat from killing squirrels and bringing them indoors, you can do a few things to discourage this behavior.
But even if you hate your cat hunting, don’t punish it because it follows its instincts.
Play With Your Cat
You can redirect your cat’s hunting instincts by playing frequently. Mental stimulation helps satisfy the hunting instinct and makes your cat less likely to kill prey.
Choose toys that mimic the hunting experience. Spring bouncers or toys that move around the room are good choices. This will sharpen your cat’s instincts and satisfy her desire to hunt.
Make Sure She Gets Enough Food
A well-fed cat is less likely to hunt. Hungry cats often chase animals to eat.
Ensuring your cat gets high-quality, satisfying food can help prevent this.
You can also try giving your cat smaller meals more often throughout the day.
Keep Your Cat Indoors at Night
A cat’s hunting instinct is powerful at night. This is also when mammals and squirrels go out searching for food.
Keeping your cat indoors from dusk to dawn will prevent him from tracking and killing these mammals.
Are Squirrels Afraid of Cats?
Cats are not the only predators squirrels need to fear. Birds of prey also pose a threat.
Squirrels are abundant worldwide, and they make a great meal. This means that while squirrels are afraid of cats, there are other animals they need to be scared of.
One study found that the presence of cats significantly reduces rodent activity around farms and homesteads.
Domestic predators usually inhibit this activity. When different predators come together, they create an environment where rodents must be even more careful in their search for food.
So, we can already say that squirrels are most likely afraid of cats, just like any other predator species that threatens their existence.
Is It Safe for Cats to Eat Squirrels?
Eating wild animals always comes with a risk. The wild animals your cat eats could be infected with a disease or dangerous bacteria.
Rabies, mange, and fleas are typical dangers of eating raw, wild meat. There is also the risk of choking on small bones and large pieces of meat.
Although disease infection is rare, cats that regularly eat squirrels and other wildlife should be routinely checked for fleas and worms.
Why Do Cats Eat the Heads of Squirrels?
Cats typically don’t distinguish a squirrel’s head from the rest of the body. They eat whatever meat is available.
Although this may be a disgusting thought for owners, the brain and eyes are full of essential nutrients and protein that a cat needs to live.
However, many cats prefer not to eat the squirrel’s head. This is probably due to the bones, which are difficult to chew and pose an obvious choking hazard.
Some cats, however, prefer to eat the head first. They regurgitate undigested parts an hour or two later.
Feral cats usually eat the entire prey. This includes muscles, organs, bones, offal, and the skin. The more complicated the food is to chew, the more the cat’s head tilts.
Cats also bite off small pieces and shake their heads when they tear them off.
Conclusion: Do Cats Chase Squirrels?
While it does happen that a cat will chase and catch a squirrel, it is rare.
Cats prefer to chase mice and birds that are easier to reach and nothing that is too much trouble.