How does a mother cat teach her kittens how to kill a mouse?
The survival lessons a mother cat teaches her kittens start at just five or six weeks of age. They are progressive, and to many people, not something we like to think about.
It’s important to remember, however, that no matter how domesticated, our cats are small, highly efficient and evolved predators. A mother cat has a genetic imperative to make sure her young survive, and that means they have to eat.
Initially, a mother cat will bring a dead mouse to the litter of kittens and consume her meal in front of them. That’s simply to let them understand the equation “mouse equals food.” She will encourage them to play with her kill, and to pounce on it in mock hunting behavior.
Next, she will progress to an incapacitated mouse, and finally to a live creature. At this point, she’s still helping, sending the poor mouse back into the litter if it manages to escape. At the point at which the kittens successfully manage “lunch” on their own at home, field lessons come next.
Mother cats take their young to likely spots to catch mice and help them through their first attempts, backing off more and more until they can handle the hunt on their own. To our squeamish eyes, it’s not a pretty sight, but the Mother cat is simply doing her job.