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Cats: A Furry, Friendly Pest Control OptionAugust 19th, 2015 by
Despite thousands of years of domestication, cats have never really abandoned their wild natures. Cat toys that mimic tiny rodents or birds flood store shelves because our feline friends have yet to shed their desire to hunt. Even the flabbiest tabby takes a primal delight in the act. While it may not be pleasant to dwell on their predatory instincts, we should consider cats as a pest control option with unique benefits. Let’s take a look at some of the ways our cats can help to rid our homes of unwanted pests.
The Purrfect Mousetrap
We all remember the classic Tom and Jerry cartoons. No matter how close he got, poor Tom never could catch that elusive mouse. Fortunately for homeowners, the mice and rats that sometimes scurry into our homes aren’t nearly as cunning as little Jerry, and thanks to our natural-born mouse killers, they often meet a far worse fate than what we remember from the cartoons.
It makes sense that we usually think of rodents as a cat’s most traditional prey. It was, after all, rodent infestations brought on by human agricultural stores that initially attracted cats to humans in the first place. Since those early days, we’ve enjoyed a mutually beneficial relationship; cats have kept mice and rat populations at bay, and we’ve provided them with shelter, food, and attention. History is replete with examples of cats catching mice or rats to benefit ships and farms, and there’s no telling to what degree cats have helped keep disease transmission in check.
Of course, cats are proud animals, and they sometimes feel the need to show off their kill by presenting it to their owners. Your cat sees it as a trophy, a sign that he’s holding up his end of the bargain. Yes, it’s sort of gross—not a pleasant experience by any means—but it’s really no worse than clearing out a traditional mousetrap. Cats are obligate carnivores, so their ideal diet contains amino acids found within meat. A carrot would certainly make for a less repulsive gift, but then again, carrots aren’t infesting your house. Cut your kitty some slack, clean up the mess, and appreciate that you’re one rodent closer to a pest-free home.
Lean, “Green” Killing Machines
There’s no doubt that insecticides and other chemicals can be powerful agents in the war against vermin. But along with their benefits come concerns over health risks, particularly to children and pets. Cats, on the other hand, offer eco-friendly pest control. As many cat owners can attest, a single bug crawling on the wall or ceiling can keep a cat’s rapt attention for hours. Assuming the bug loses out in the end, it’s really a win-win situation; your cat gets easy entertainment and exercise, and you end up with one less creepy-crawly to deal with. Relying on cats catching birds, squirrels, and larger pests also leads to a cleaner, greener approach to pest-free living.
Because the bond cultivated between cats and their owners can be one of life’s greatest joys, it can be difficult to remember that behind their furry faces and wispy whiskers lies the finely tuned brain of one of nature’s best predators. While some exterminating jobs are just too complex and will require calling in a Best Pick professional, for day-to-day living, depending on cats for pest control is a good, cost-effective alternative.
Sources: Alley Cat Allies; Sheppardsoftware.com; Smithsonian.com.