You’ve seen it in the cartoons – Tom & Jerry, a cat and a mouse – but are they friends or adversaries? For more than 80 years, we’ve been laughing at their antics. But are cats the answer to a mouse problem at your house? Some people feel cats can help keep mice away, but are not likely to stave off an infestation. And it also depends on the cat….
While many cats love to hunt, there are some who won’t bat an eye if they see a mouse – some are even afraid of rodents. In these cases, adopting a cat won’t be the best house mouse control method. Unless you already have a cat that you know loves to hunt, it can be hard to tell if a new cat will be a hunter until you get it home. Indoor cats are less likely to catch a mouse than outdoor cats, but it can happen. Your feline friend is hardwired for hunting and, simply stated, mice are an easy target. Much like birds, another favorite feline prey, mice are the perfect size for little paws and don’t put up much of a fight. Cats are pouncers who love to stalk their target and wear them down. They’re also attracted to a mouse’s flittering, skittering, unpredictable movement.
In rare cases, cats can make your mouse problem worse. Many outdoor cats like to bring their prey home as a trophy or something to play with (sometimes when it’s still alive). They could bring a mouse infestation into your home if they let their prey loose inside. Most cats hunt at night, so you will likely be sleeping if this were to happen. Not only will most mice hide from the cat in walls, but they also reproduce quickly. Female mice can have litters of 4–10 mice every 3 weeks and babies are able to mate just 6 weeks after they are born. This is why it’s important to eliminate the infestation right away.
If your cat is able to catch a mouse or two, you run the risk of dealing with an even bigger problem. Cats can get fleas, ticks and other parasites from catching and eating mice. No one wants their cat to be sick or infected. Diseases like Hantavirus (HPS) or Lyme disease can easily be spread from mice to cats, as well as humans. Letting your cat act as your first line of defense against mice puts not only your cat’s health at risk, but you and your family’s health as well.
Unfortunately, the occasional successful mouse hunt does not solve the root of the problem. But the good news is that cats aren’t the only hope for deterring mice. Follow these tips to help prevent mice from getting in your home:
- Check your foundation for cracks and fill with silicone caulk.
- Make sure window and door screens don’t have any holes or tears.
- Install door sweeps on all the entry doors to your home.
- Trim back bushes and trees near your home to reduce shelter for rodents.
- Tidy up storage boxes in basements and attics to make it more difficult for mice to nest.
- Keep kitchen and pantries clean and store food in containers with tight-fitting lids.
If you suspect a mouse problem, don’t rely on kitty. A professionally trained pest control company is the purr-fect and most effective way to eliminate mice.