Why Do Cats Kill Birds And Not Eat Them? The Answer is Shocking

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Cats have strong predatory instincts and are adept hunters. If you’ve ever had an outdoor cat, you’ve probably had the unpleasant surprise of seeing dead birds just outside your door. If cats don’t want to eat birds, then why do they kill them?

Cat owners may find this normal feline behaviour, which stems from innate impulses, to be confusing and irritating.

Here’s the short response in case you’re pressed for time: Because of their intense hunting instincts and drive to become proficient hunters, cats kill birds even when they are not hungry. They are predatory creatures by nature.

Cats Have An Intense Hunting Need

Being innate hunters, cats have a strong hunting urge built into their body. This explains why they often engage in actions like pursuing, stalking, and pouncing. The need to hunt persists in even well-fed domestic cats, and this might drive them to kill birds for fun or food.

A Natural Hunting Ability

For thousands of years, cats have been hunters, and their innate desire to hunt has been handed down through the generations. They are outstanding hunters because to their sharp claws, nimble bodies, and strong senses. A cat’s natural instincts take over and they begin to pursue and jump at the sight of a bird.

Opportunistic murderers

Being opportunistic hunters, cats will hunt and kill at any given chance, even if they are not in the mood to do so. They do not distinguish between prey that they need for survival and prey that they do not.

Cats were just taking advantage of an accessible victim, which is why they sometimes kill birds and leave them unharmed.

Engage in Play and Practice

Playing with and practicing on birds is another reason cats kill them without eating them. For cats, hunting provides mental and physical activity. They are gratifying their innate inclinations and improving their hunting abilities by pursuing and catching birds.

They like the act of hunting even if they may not end up eating the prey.

Even though cats are naturally hunters, it’s crucial for cat owners to take precautions to preserve animals and promote ethical behaviour. Cats may have less of an effect on bird populations if they are kept indoors or in enclosed outdoor areas.

Giving cats toys and engaging in interactive play might also help them satiate their hunting urges in a more eco-friendly and regulated manner.

Not Starving, Just Boresome

The fact that cats are not hungry is one of the key reasons they kill birds but do not eat them. Since cats are innate predators, hunting comes naturally to them. Even domesticated cats who are fed properly maintain this hunting impulse and may hunt even when their nutritional demands are satisfied.

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If their outside space is available to them, cats are more likely to encounter birds and other small creatures. Their innate hunting instincts take over when they see a bird, and they could pursue and catch it. But because they weren’t initially driven by hunger, they can get disinterested in catching the bird once they do.

Absence of Incentives

On the other side, indoor cats could engage in this behaviour since they don’t have enough excitement or chances to go hunting naturally. Indoor cats may become bored and look for other methods to amuse themselves if they don’t have access to interactive toys or the outdoors.

Even though they don’t consume the birds, these cats might benefit from the mental and physical excitement that comes with hunting.


Recreational motives are another reason why cats kill birds but do not eat them. Given their lively disposition, it is reasonable to assume that cats enjoy hunting as a kind of fun. For a cat, chasing and catching a bird may be an exciting sport. However, after the bird is captured, it may lose its appeal.

Although cats’ natural tendency to kill birds, it’s vital to remember that this behaviour might have detrimental effects on bird populations, particularly for native species. If your cat is an outdoor cat, you may want to provide them other kinds of play and stimulation, including interactive play sessions or puzzle toys, so they may indulge their hunting tendencies without endangering nearby species.

How to Put an End to the Behaviour

There are a few things you may do to deter your cat from killing birds if you wish to avoid this behaviour. These consist of utilising deterrents, offering enrichment, and keeping your cat indoors.

Keep your cats indoors.

Keeping cats inside is one of the best methods to stop them from harming birds. You are safeguarding not only birds but also your cat from possible threats like traffic, predators, and illnesses by keeping them inside.

Cats kept inside may nevertheless have happy, meaningful lives with plenty of fun and stimulation.

The American Bird Conservancy estimates that 2.4 billion birds are killed annually by outdoor cats in the US alone. Your cat’s indoor confinement helps lessen the strain on bird populations.

Offer Enhancement

Because they are innate hunters, cats need a way to express their want to hunt. Your cat’s hunting instincts may be partially met by offering them enrichment, such as interactive toys, puzzle feeders, and stimulating playing. This may lessen the urge to pursue animals, including birds.

Creating vertical areas for your cat to climb, hiding places, and scratching posts are further examples of enrichment. By offering both physical and cerebral excitement, these environmental improvements may reduce boredom and the need to find prey.

Employ Dissuasive Measures

You may use deterrents to stop your cat from hunting birds if it has a strong hunting instinct. Using a bird feeder made specifically to keep cats away is one approach. Usually, these feeders are raised or equipped with obstacles to keep cats from getting to the birds.

Alternatively, you may employ decoy predators or motion-activated sprinklers to discourage birds from visiting your yard. These may contribute to your cat finding a less desirable hunting habitat.

It’s crucial to keep in mind that cats are innate hunters, and it might be difficult to totally suppress their hunting urges. But by following these precautions, you may lessen the chance that your cat will harm birds, safeguarding both the natural world and your cherished pet.

Final Thoughts

Ultimately, since hunting is embedded in cats’ nature as predators and their instincts, they kill birds even when they are not hungry. This typical behaviour, albeit annoying, is a reminder of their untamed beginnings.

Cat owners may control their instincts and stop unnecessary bird fatalities by providing the right care and attention.

I'm Nauman Afridi, the bird enthusiast behind Birdsology.com. My lifelong passion for birds has led me to create a space where fellow bird lovers can find valuable insights and tips on caring for our feathered friends.Professionally, I'm a brand strategist and digital marketing consultant, bringing a unique perspective to the world of bird care. Whether you're a novice or an experienced bird owner, Birdsology.com is designed to be a welcoming community for all.Feel free to explore, and reach out if you have any questions or just want to chat about birds.
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