Will cats keep mice away from your house? They can definitely help!
If you are looking for a natural mouse deterrent, why not consider getting a cat. The great thing about having a cat is its very presence will help to keep the mice away.
Having a cat on your property is one of the most natural ways to get rid of mice since you are letting nature take care of itself. It’s the cycle of life.
Read these tips so you know what to expect and make sure your cat knows how to hunt OR scroll to the end to watch the video!
Table of Contents
How Do Cats Keep Mice Away From Your House?
Mice will build a home where they feel safe & secure.
When they come into your home, they will look for an unoccupied area to live & breed. This may be in your walls, under the stove, or in the attic.
They will also look for a ready source of food to feed their families. And finally, they will seek out a place where they feel safe from predators.
Can Mice Smell Cats?
Yes, very easily. The odor of a predator such as a cat is well known to the mouse.
A mouse’s sense of smell is one of its most acute senses and is very good at detecting predators in the area. It is a key to their survival. And they are always on the lookout for the slightest hint of danger.
In fact, mice have hundreds of odor receptors that help them detect cats and other predators both nearby and from great distances.
A cats’ odor will cause an immediate response in mice. Their defenses will kick in, causing a fear response that includes an increased heart rate and changes in behavior, such as their travel routes and feeding quantities.
Studies have also shown the presence of predators will decrease their ability to reproduce. Animals have a strong desire to protect their young and will not breed as quickly if they detect a threat nearby.
If they smell a cat in the area, they are very likely to find a better place to call home where they will not be hunted on a daily basis.
However, just because you have a cat, does not mean you will never have a mouse in your house again.
There may be a place in your house that does not have the smell of your cat, so the mice may still come in. Or if food & shelter is very limited in your area, the mouse may consider your home to be the only option.
It is also hard to estimate the level of fear that is required to keep mice away.
For this reason, it may be better for mice control if your cat also knows how to hunt.
Does Your Cat Have The Play Or Kill Mindset?
Members of the cat family are among nature’s most successful predators.
Cornell UniversityCollege of Veterinary Medicine
However, even though they are good hunters, there are some cats that will just want to play with the mouse. Be prepared to watch your cat toy with a mouse, over & over & over again.
And they like to bring their toys home. You may find a dead mouse on your front porch or sometimes even in your house. A cat likes to bring its trophy home to his or her owner. They are very proud of their catch having sometimes been stalking them for days.
And occasionally your cat will bring home a mouse that is still alive.
The funniest thing I heard was a story from my neighbor.
- Her cat brought home a mouse that must have just been stunned.
- The cat had it in her mouth when it came back inside.
- My neighbor saw her cat with the mouse & screamed.
- The cat let go of the mouse & it ran straight under her cupboards.
So the moral of that story is – Always make sure your cat drops his prize BEFORE letting him in the door!
How To Select A Cat That Will Catch Mice
So, we’ve established that not all cats are natural mousers. If you want to get a cat to help with your mouse problem, ideally, you will want to find a kitty that has lived for some time outside and knows how to hunt.
If you live near a rural area, you can normally find barn cats looking for a good home.
Talk to your local humane society or shelter. They will know the cat’s background and should be able to help you select the right cat for your home.
A kitten would be sweet, but will not know how to hunt.
If you have your heart set on getting a kitten, many shelters will have both the mother & kittens that are up for adoption. The mother will be able to teach the kitten how to hunt. Female cats are also rumored to be better mousers.
Some breeds are better at catching mice than others. For example, Maine Coons and Burmese cats are both known to be good hunters.
See our article on the best cat breeds for catching mice for a full list, photos, and descriptions of the cats that have better natural hunting abilities.
Some cats will actually ignore mice, especially cats which have always lived indoors & have not been exposed to any type of hunting games or toys. Yes, there are lazy cats, just like lazy dogs & lazy people. :)
If you already have a cat, but he/she doesn’t know how to hunt, they can still be an effective mouse deterrent.
Consider encouraging your cat to visit the area where you have the most mice. You could give it a few treats in the kitchen or play a game in the basement where the mice are known to frequent.
Cats love to brush up against objects, leaving their scent trail behind. If you can encourage your cat to do this where you also have mouse activity, the trail they leave behind will be a good mouse deterrent as well.
Leaving some of your cat’s hair in a problem area can also help to deter mice from entering a room. Over time, the scent will fade. But as long as the cat’s pheromones are present in the oils, this can help.
Do Outdoor Cats Keep Mice Away?
Yes. Outdoor cats that hunt in your backyard and around your house will help to keep the rodent population down. The effectiveness will depend on the number of cats nearby and where they sleep or spend most of their time.
This also works with indoor/outdoor cats. If your cat comes and goes from your house he is probably rubbing his scent on your doorways and the exterior of your home, marking his territory. This can be a clear signal for the mice to stay away.
However, if you have a neighborhood cat that likes just comes to hang out on your patio occasionally, then the effectiveness will be reduced.
You are probably just one of many houses on his route. But as long as he is still using your yard as a hunting ground, it will reduce the number of mice around your house. And that is helpful, just to a lower degree.
Do note that also every shelter or humane society will tell you that indoor cats live much longer than outdoor cats. Outdoor cats may do a better job of keeping mice at bay, but they will also be exposed to the elements and other predators. Living on the street can be tough!
Can You Borrow A Cat To Get Rid Of Mice?
Well, this is a bit tricky. Cats are very particular about their surrounding. If you’ve ever had a cat, you will know that when you change the slightest thing in the house, they take notice!
Some changes can be upsetting to them. And taking a cat out of their home environment to a brand new house is one of the biggest changes there is.
I’ve lived with both cats and dogs and at least in my experience, dogs handle changes to their environment much better. Taking your dog on vacation is fun. But invite a friend’s cat along when they come for a visit and they might just hide under the bed for the week.
So this wouldn’t be as simple as borrowing a cat for the weekend to hunt. It would likely take a few weeks or months to be helpful. And you have to consider how the cat will feel and adjust to your house. A stressed-out cat is not good for you or the cat.
But like anything else, it’s going to depend on the cat’s personality and background.
And it’s going to take a while. So, if you don’t have the time or inclination to welcome a new pet into your household, then it may be better to try one of the other natural ways to deter mice or hire a mouse exterminator.
Make A Commitment To Your Cat
Getting a cat is a commitment. You have to remember that you are getting a pet, a new family member, not just an in-house mouse killing machine.
So before heading out to pick out your new kitty, ask yourself these questions.
- Do you have the time and energy to devote to your new cat?
- Do you know where the cat will live?
- You’ll need a place to keep the litter box, toys, scratching post, etc.
Cats don’t require as much attention as some other pets, but they still need to be loved & cared for.
So while getting a cat is a wonderfully natural solution to getting rid of your mouse problem, please make sure you are willing to commit to their care. After all, he or she is working hard for you and deserves a good home!