Killer Cat

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princessfluffy
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Killer Cat

Post by princessfluffy » Thu Aug 11, 2016 5:12 pm

Hi all, first time here so please be gentle!

I'm after some advice. We are at our wit's end with our approx. 18 month old cat who has become obsessed with bringing baby birds home. It's got to the point where he brings one home every time he goes out. He's had 4 in the last two days (including two baby ducks). I know it's in their nature but I've had two cats in the past and they never hunted at all, so it's come as a bit of a shock to me to know it can happen to this extent. I could cope with the odd one now and then, but this is getting too much for me to cope with.

We have tried not letting him out in the hours around dawn and dusk, when supposedly the baby birds are most vulnerable, but he gets them at all times of day and night - it makes no difference. I think he plucks them out of nests in neighbours gardens. We certainly don't get many birds in our garden - I think they know better. We have a collar with a loud bell and also an audio-visual alarm but again it seems to make no difference (I guess it may scare off older birds but the poor babies don't stand a chance).

When he brings one home, I then try to keep him in the house for the rest of the day, but he whines and whines repeatedly and so then I'm worrying about his welfare. And as soon as I let him out after a period indoors, he immediately goes and gets another one.

Sometimes he brings them home already dead, other times they are still alive and then I have the trauma of deciding what to do with them.

I just don't know what the solution is. He loves being outdoors and he's miserable when being kept in. I've tried all sorts of toys to keep him occupied indoors which he plays with for a while but soon enough he's crying to go out again.

I love my cat with all my heart but this is really ruining my relationship with him.

I've tried to think long and hard about what I could do. Making the garden completely containable so that he can only go into our garden? I know you can get proper cat-proof fencing. Or would this only stress him out as he's been allowed to roam up to now? Would he eventually get used to it? Almost the first thing he does when he goes outside is jump the fence.

I just don't know what to do.
:?: :?:

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Lilith
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Re: Killer Cat

Post by Lilith » Thu Aug 11, 2016 6:03 pm

Hi there and welcome :)

I see you have a problem!

The first thing is, as you say, this is cat behaviour and, like the Rum Tum Tugger, there's no doing anything about it!

It's in their nature and you can't tell them to stop. But it's worrying when he brings home live prey and then you're faced with the disposal - like you I wouldn't tolerate the playing around with and stalking of a distressed prey either. There are limits. I once had a three quarter Siamese who looked just like the Beast of Bodmin; I lived on the edge of farmland then and most days I'd see George walking along the fence with something furry or feathery in his jaws. 'George,' I'd say. 'Is that dead?'

Crunch! 'it is now,' George would say. He knew I'd take it off him if it was still alive.

This sounds gruesome but, I'd advise letting your guy keep his kill if it's dead; sad but you can do no more, but getting it off him if it's alive - and disposing of it fast. It will be far too young and stressed to survive; a quick death is kindest. Roll it up tightly in some kind of bag, even a plastic supermarket bag, have a large hammer ready, lay it on a concrete path or similar - and whack the head end hard with the hammer. Then stick it in the bin and get yourself a glass of wine or a cuppa. You will have done the kindest thing. Or get a good friend to do this if you can't - but don't let the poor little thing linger on a moment longer than you can.

I'm sorry to sound so brutal but you'll have done the best thing for the prey.

I think you do have to come to terms with his nature though, distressing as his hunting will be - and hopefully the fledgling season will be over soon. My other concern would be if he aroused neighbour hostility or went hunting small pets like young rabbits. In the days of George I bred rabbits and George opened a hutch where there was a doe and young...yes. I'll say no more.

They DO hunt when they can, I'm afraid that is just a fact of life with cats and we have to face it, but as someone who tries to rescue butterflies and moths I do understand your distress.

I enclosed my present garden for my cats' safety just by running a length of mesh round the fence, leaving about 18" standing proud of the fence, then bent it inwards at right angles to the fence; this didn't cost too much and is pretty effective; you will of course have to keep modifying if you have a Houdini on your hands (no handy creepers or bushes to provide a 'step' out of the garden) and you may have to provide a 'cat ladder/step' for any intruders while your lad is in/overnight.

I hope you and he come to terms around this issue, and there will be other people along who can give more advice, but hope this helps for now, all the very best :)

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bobbys girl
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Re: Killer Cat

Post by bobbys girl » Thu Aug 11, 2016 7:00 pm

Oooh, I know what THAT is like! :roll: Of my four it is the two disabled ones that are the worst. Willow and Grace out-grew it quite quickly. But one-eyed Purdy and three-legged Bob are terrors. We have a country garden with some big trees and I have nest boxes in most of them. Yes we do have casualties, but we still manage to have more birds successfully fledge from our garden than any of the neighbours - who have no cats. All those nest boxes have cat deterrants of some kind and the bird table has a net around it like you get on tall buildings for helicopters.

We keep an old bird cage for casualties as we sometimes get birds flying into the windows too. Sometimes they are killed outright but then many are just stunned so we scoop them up before the cats can get them. Bob tends to kill them outright,Purdy brings them home and if I'm quick they spend a few hours in the cage then fly away. Thecats have never managed to get into nests.

Lilith's idea of wire around the fence sounds a good idea. You could try that.

Your cat is still a youngster, he may just grow out of it like Willow and Grace. A bird has to be suicidal for them to catch it - they are very half-hearted. I hope this is the case.

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Janey
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Re: Killer Cat

Post by Janey » Thu Aug 11, 2016 7:13 pm

Hi and welcome to my (and many other’s I presume) world! I totally get what you’re saying as I have the same problem and it’s not nice. I too have never had this before until now. We’ve only had 2 cats from kittens our very first two and they didn’t hunt much at all. I think Penny only brought one live bird into the house (which my mother who was here at the time managed to get out!) and a dead mouse, and Squeaky caught none. Since then we’ve only adopted old cats and none have bothered, not even the ferals we care for!

The cat we currently have, she is 6 and half and a prolific hunter. We didn’t go out looking for another cat as at the time we didn’t want one but she kept leaving home and coming to us as she was kept as indoor cat, so her owner signed her over. I have tried to find a home as she tends to scare the more timid feral away but the offers we’ve had have been homes without gardens or near main roads. So after 2 years she’s decided she’s staying! We have a large garden, which she rarely leaves but I’ve always fed the birds so she sits waiting all day. Luckily I am at home most of the time to keep watch but I was on the phone the other day and she came to the door with one. Like yourself I get dead, half dead and alive ones which I save. I always try to save them and often they play dead then as soon as I’ve shook her to let the bird go and put her inside the bird will fly off. It’s sad when they are not dead but not well, and I have cried, but I couldn’t do the inevitable. I have to accept that’s what cats do although like you I hate her for doing it but love her still.

I have cut all my shrubs down to try and stop her hiding. I’ve added an extra bell to her collar - which helps a bit and like yourself follow the save the birds guidelines. Other than that I have no answer, it’s what some cats do sadly, and I have one that does! I am just hoping she will grow out of it very soon!!! please...So other than an extra bell on the collar I have no further suggestions I’m afraid but I wanted you to know you are not alone!

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Re: Killer Cat

Post by mr_frisky » Thu Aug 11, 2016 10:02 pm

I've had cats that have caught all sorts of birds, even pigeons, but the current crop tend to bring them to me unharmed to show me, and I act impressed, while letting them go and they search for their prey but don't find them. Then I give them some food and they forget about it. The birds usually fly off.

Once I took an injured dove 10 miles to Leatherhead to Wildlife Aid, but generally they are either dead or unharmed. If they are already dead I let them have them.

I would say that if they don't show any obvious signs of serious injury, then let them go somewhere quiet and safe. I've put apparently unharmed field mice in my greenhouse before so they can recover, and have even rescued rats and left them water and cheese in a rehabilitation area.

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bobbys girl
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Re: Killer Cat

Post by bobbys girl » Thu Aug 11, 2016 10:15 pm

mr_frisky wrote:I've put apparently unharmed field mice in my greenhouse before so they can recover, and have even rescued rats and left them water and cheese in a rehabilitation area.
We have a 'mouse bucket' for that. But I draw the line at rats. We used to have them under the shed, but since we got Purdy - no more rats.

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Re: Killer Cat

Post by Grace56 » Thu Aug 11, 2016 11:20 pm

Sorry, but this is what cats do. It is as natural to them as breathing. Some cats are better hunters than others (usually neutered females) and will bring many kills home to their humans. My late Holly was like that; no bird or rodent was safe from her jaws.

My Dave brings me rats and I tell him what a good boy he is and thank him. It's not nice I know, but if you can't cope with a cat and it's inherent nature don't have a cat.

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Re: Killer Cat

Post by princessfluffy » Fri Aug 12, 2016 10:32 am

Thanks, some helpful comments there. Another one this morning... I will look into the fencing.
Thanks again.

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Re: Killer Cat

Post by Crewella » Fri Aug 12, 2016 3:55 pm

Daz is my 'killer' cat, though thankfully he mainly kills small mammals rather than birds, for which I'm truly grateful. He also eats his kills (he's as ex-stray) rather than play with them, and I do keep him in at night to try to give the local wildlife a chance.

I have heard of people putting two bells on a collar to try to give the birds more of a chance, but if he's getting at the nests that won't help at all. It sounds as though fencing is your best option.

Just a thought, but you might find that he calms down a bit in time. When we first moved here and Daz discovered there were bunnies at the bottom of the garden he would spend the entire day down there, and in the spring he'd bring home several baby bunnies a day and share his spoils with the rest of the gang. He wouldn't even come in for his dinner - I went looking for him once and found him down the bottom of the garden, staring intently down a rabbit hole. I called him, and he just glanced at me "Can't you see I'm busy?" and went back to peering down the hole. He still brings home the bunnies, but nowhere near as many - after that first year he calmed down a bit and deigned to come back in for his meals.

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Re: Killer Cat

Post by MarySkater » Fri Aug 12, 2016 4:25 pm

I adopted 2 cats last December, and had part of my garden enclosed for them. Neither of them hunted. However, 6 weeks ago one died, and the survivor, Rocky, has taken to hunting. I don't know if it's because of boredom; he's getting a new companion in a few weeks, so we'll see if that changes things.

What Rocky is catching are shrews. His tally so far is 2 dead and 3 alive (or maybe 1 alive that keeps getting re-caught!). If he brings a live one into the house, I leave the back door open and eventually it finds its way out. I've tried shutting him in at night, but he can get them in the daytime. The enclosure must smell of cat, so I hope that eventually the local shrews will learn to avoid it.

I really don't like live ones in the house. They go under furniture where neither Rocky nor I can get them, and if they do run across the floor, they are lightning fast, and there's no way I can catch them. I wondered if I could use box-type humane mouse traps to get them, so I could take them outside and away, but the traps seem to depend on the animal going in to get food bait. I don't think a shrew running for its life is going to stop for a bit of cheese or chocolate.

Does anyone have any tips on dealing with small mammals in the house?

Mary

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Re: Killer Cat

Post by mr_frisky » Fri Aug 12, 2016 5:07 pm

The humane mouse traps work well if you check them every few hours. By far the best thing is to put peanut butter on the lid. They don't seem to be interested in cheese.

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Lilith
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Re: Killer Cat

Post by Lilith » Fri Aug 12, 2016 5:13 pm

Shrews! These are fascinating, but you don't want them in the house. I've got one of those box traps and though I've never used it (yet) it recommends baiting with peanut butter as Mr Frisky says, but shrews have different tastes to mice; they eat insects and worms. I suppose you could try a shred of raw beef or chicken if there wasn't a handy worm, and put the trap in a quiet place overnight out of Rocky's reach, BECAUSE, a shrew needs to eat the equivalent of its own weight every day, they're gluttons, and a hungry shrew might well try a bit of meat in a trap.

I've only ever been bothered by mice in the house when cats have brought them in (and worms too! :o ) One mouse lived very comfortably in my teatowel drawer. Complete with ensuite latrine. Lovely! Good luck! :)

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bobbys girl
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Re: Killer Cat

Post by bobbys girl » Fri Aug 12, 2016 6:50 pm

When my OH's flat (in England) was overrun with mice, he used an old milk bottle, propped-up so the open top was higher than the base and put it down the side of the cooker - where there was just enough room. They can get in but can't get out. He just put a sprinkle of museli in it but you could used a bit of mince meat or even cat food He caught loads of mice and just had to carry the bottle across the road to some fields and let them go. The hard part would be finding a glass milk bottle! :?

Now we just use a fishing net and some tea towels and herd the poor little beggers into the hall - where there is no escape! Hey Ho the joys of owning a cat!

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Re: Killer Cat

Post by alanc » Fri Aug 12, 2016 7:06 pm

Well, after a lot of intensive training by Badger and Tilly, I have become expert at catching mice, shrews and birds by hand. Carry mice and shrews out and hide them in the back garden drystone wall. Birds usually can be put on the roof from the dormer window out of reach of cats. Sadly, those that are too agile for me to catch don't survive very long.

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Lilith
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Re: Killer Cat

Post by Lilith » Fri Aug 12, 2016 7:51 pm

Catfood - but of course! Why didn't I think of that? Long as Shrew doesn't think it's found a gourmet restaurant and comes back for seconds lol.

I do release prey that's adult and unharmed, by the way, sorry if my first post sounded bloodthirsty but I was thinking of baby or very young fledgling birds which, with rare exceptions, just aren't strong enough to survive a cat-mauling. I was once walking up the street and saw a cat crouched by a wheelybin, greeted cat, of course, and then realised he was positively gloating over a poor mouse, who was trying to get under the wheelybin and screeching in terror. Caught the mouse, apologised to the cat and smuggled mouse to a safer place...

A couple of years ago we had a plague of cabbage white butterflies, and Molly, the Ginger Ninja, quite coldbloodedly watched a female laying her eggs, before swooping and cramming her into her mouth. Couldn't rescue that.

But the most gruesome thing I ever came across was a catch of George's. A fieldmouse. he'd brought her home, eaten her head, and left the rest of her. Ah but she was heavily pregnant, and the poor babies were still heaving about in her. Poor Mama mouse, toddling along, minding her own business, thinking about her nest and the patter of tiny claws, when George strikes - shame on him!

He was funny though, when he did the Mouse Dance (with a dead mouse of course.) Throw it up in the air, prance round it, stand on his hind legs and throw it up again...cats eh? :)

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Re: Killer Cat

Post by MarySkater » Fri Aug 12, 2016 8:26 pm

Thanks for all the thoughts. The box trap baited with meat sounds like a good idea. It would be nice if Rocky gave up on the shrews once he has a new kitten to play with. But probably, he'll take her out into the garden and show her all these nice furry toys... :)

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Re: Killer Cat

Post by Crewella » Sat Aug 13, 2016 1:08 pm

We get loads of shrews here, but they're the only thing that never gets eaten - apparently the shrew has something in its coat that tastes unpleasant to cats. Even Buzz the foster cat managed to catch one in his pen the other day, he proudly left it for me by the door!:)

Cat food seems to work well for shrews - I imagine it's the waft of cat food that makes them brave a cat pen!

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Re: Killer Cat

Post by Lilith » Sat Aug 13, 2016 2:55 pm

Ah yes but bet nobody else has got rats in their freezer! :o :lol:

Frozen rats, though, for the benefit of Shahi the royal python. Reading this thread reminded me last night to get one out to defrost as today was his feeding day - he struck like a mamba. Ah but last night he snuggled up on my lap and went to sleep with his nose nestled into my hand ... aaaahhh! :D

I do have to watch though where I defrost snake food; it has been known to vanish and end up being batted round the living room carpet...

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Re: Killer Cat

Post by Crewella » Sat Aug 13, 2016 4:09 pm

My Phonda, the one-eyed Burmese python, used to strike like a mamba, but her aim was usually waaaayyyyy off and she often got my hand instead. When she was little it didn't much matter, she'd just go 'ooooooops sorry mum' when she smelled it was me and let go, but as she got bigger it started to hurt. When she passed the 10 foot mark I once tried gloves, just the once - she didn't realise her mistake (I guess all she could smell was the rat on the gloves) and went into full wrap and pressure ..... presumably waiting for the pulse to stop in my hand. I had to get someone to help get her off me!

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Lilith
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Re: Killer Cat

Post by Lilith » Sat Aug 13, 2016 5:37 pm

Yeeeowwch! :shock:

They do get mixed up sometimes because of the heat sensing pits on their upper lips; when Shahi was a baby he'd strike at his heat bulb, and if you don't get the nose of the rat really hot they'll zoom past it and tag your hand. I never thought of the pulse in the hand, of course the snake will know when it coils round it. It's a good thing you had someone to call on when Phonda got you; Shahi once manacled me when he was little and I managed to turn a tap on with my elbow and put his head (some of my fingers were in his mouth) under a squirt of water to cool his ardour lol.

These days I use long tongs for feeding...

Sorry - way off topic, but, to return to killer cats, I used to know someone who lived in an area where there were slow worms. And the local cats hunted them. I will admit I could NOT live with that - any cat of mine who dared to go after a snake or the lizard slow worm would be grounded for sure - I'm only thankful mine have never tried to hunt my snakes :)
Last edited by Lilith on Sat Aug 13, 2016 6:05 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Killer Cat

Post by bobbys girl » Sat Aug 13, 2016 5:48 pm

One of mine cornered a lizard under a planter a few years ago. It was OK - minus it's tail - but OK. I didn't know we HAD lizards around these parts. Same goes for the pygmy shrews they find. I believe the pygmy shrews are not that common - sorry but they are less common now. :?

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Re: Killer Cat

Post by Lilith » Sat Aug 13, 2016 6:06 pm

Ah.

The maiming of the shrew??

Sorry! :oops: :lol:

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Re: Killer Cat

Post by Grace56 » Mon Aug 15, 2016 6:40 pm

Lilith wrote:Ah.

The maiming of the shrew??

Sorry! :oops: :lol:
:lol: :lol: :lol: Very good Lilith.

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Re: Killer Cat

Post by bobbys girl » Mon Aug 15, 2016 8:10 pm

Lilith wrote:Ah.

The maiming of the shrew??

Sorry! :oops: :lol:
So you should be ! :lol: :lol:

While I've got you here - I want to ask you something. Are your cats bothered by your snakes?

It was a lovely day today and I was out in the garden for most of it. It was a warm day and I decided to open up the caravan and let the air blow through it. Gracie likes to sit in the window and sun herself so she darted in front of me to get in there. She had just put her front feet on the top step and stopped dead, spun around so fast she fell off the steps. Just inside the door I had thrown a bungee strap. I think Gracie thought it was a snake?! She took some convincing that it was OK.

I have seen Purdy react in a similar way with a garden hose in the long grass. They have never seen a snake, we don't have any in Ireland so it must be something deeply ingrained in a cat's psyche? Have you come across it?

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Lilith
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Re: Killer Cat

Post by Lilith » Mon Aug 15, 2016 9:22 pm

Grace and Bobbys girl I cringe at my own jokes lol!

Do you know, Bobbys girl, for years I've seen cats react in exactly the same way to anything resembling a snake - a belt or a piece of thick rope. They startle, do a double take and often pull away in fright and I too have wondered if it's some atavistic fear thing.

But my cats have never been afraid of real snakes; I started out with corn hatchlings, which are the size of a pencil, and so tiny they can glide along the vivarium tracking; the cats thought they were great, and there seemed to be a bond between them; a cat would sit watching outside the vivarium and the snake would roam up and down on the other side of the glass as if trying to get to the cat; snakes are very curious. But there would be none of the pouncing and patting that a cat watching an aquarium does. If a snake came out for 'armchair walkies' Emily especially would get jealous, and come and sit on my lap; I wouldn't dare post this on a snake forum, and I wouldn't advise anyone else to let this happen, but I have had small snakes slithering over the cat's back as if enjoying the trek over the thick fur, and the cat taking no notice. But not good practice and I'd never leave a cat and a snake unsupervised, despite the only sign of 'predatoriness' being a paw coming out to swipe at a dangling tail, more as if the snake was a toy.

Those slow-worms got hunted by cats though and although they aren't snakes proper, they might as well be. And I once had a cat who hunted worms. Big ones. One night I was tidying the kitchen, barefoot, and Arthur the cat came in, shortly afterwards...scrunch! Big worm underfoot, ewww, where did that come from? Arthur went out, returned and shortly afterwards, same thing, trod on another big worm, what on earth...? It was a wet night and I happened to look outside to see Arthur prising yet another worm from between the paving slabs. Mind you, he was born in May and there's a superstition that May cats bring in snakes. Since there were no snakes in the area perhaps he felt a few worms were the next best thing :)

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bobbys girl
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Re: Killer Cat

Post by bobbys girl » Mon Aug 15, 2016 9:48 pm

Willow AND Bob were born in May! :shock: Good job there are no snakes in Ireland. :lol:

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Re: Killer Cat

Post by catslave16 » Tue Aug 16, 2016 2:12 am

When I lived in Wisley Gardens in Surrey I had a black cat called Charlie. He grew up there, with 220 acres to roam free in. He became a terrific hunter. He once caught a MOLE - have any of you heard of a cat managing that? - and used to bring in baby squirrels and leverets and leave them beside my bed, dead and bloody. It got to the point that I couldn't get out of bed without looking first. When he was three I moved to a flat with a garden, backing on to a park, but he lost interest in hunting.
Blake used to bring in little field mice. Sometimes he'd eat them. I think he must have eaten them with a knife and fork, for I'd find neat little piles of tiny intestines on the carpet. When he brought in a live mouse I'd try to catch it. If you can drive a mouse into a corner you can pick it up by its little tail (but it may bite, and quite hard too) or you can put a pint glass over it and then turn it upside down. I tried the milk bottle method, Bobby's girl, when a mouse was loose in the kitchen. I put some weetabix in the bottle and put it behind the cooker at an angle. In the morning I found some mouse droppings in it. The weetabix and the mouse had gone. I wish I'd thought of a bucket or putting mice in the shed to recover! I used to take the captured mice to the bottom of the garden, but often Blake would come in with a mouse twenty minutes later, probably the same mouse, which meant I'd only prolonged its agony...
A few weeks ago when my new carpet was fitted the men found a dead mouse behind a book case. Not long after Rufus brought in a mouse, let it go, and that hid behind the book case too. So I left the back door open all night. I hope it found its way out.
As for birds, Blake used to very occasionally catch one and eat it. Crunchily. While I hid in the bedroom. And there'd be feathers all over the landing. Blake stopped hunting as he got older. Ah, cats! Dontcha just LOVE them? Yes, so we just have to put up with the hunting.

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Re: Killer Cat

Post by Crewella » Tue Aug 16, 2016 10:11 am

Daz has caught a couple of moles this year, but for some reason didn't eat either of them. They were very sweet, and I was quite sad about it ...... until I looked at the 25 mole hills that had taken over the lawn ......... :shock:

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bobbys girl
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Re: Killer Cat

Post by bobbys girl » Tue Aug 16, 2016 11:20 am

One good thing about living here - no moles OR rabbits. The ground is too soft to burrow through and living underground you would need an aqualung! There have to be some benefits to living in midge country. :lol: That's why I was so suprised about the lizards.

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Re: Killer Cat

Post by Lilith » Tue Aug 16, 2016 7:25 pm

I'll never understand about there being no snakes in Ireland. I know St Patrick was supposed to have driven them out but can't understand why. He seems to have been quite a genial guy, apparently there's proof that he didn't. :)

Moles...I use to know someone with a gorgeous cottage garden, where you could sit and watch the plants rocking drunkenly from side to side as Mr Mole made his progress beneath the flowerbed :o

I read somewhere that if you saw a mole above ground it was poorly and bound to die (don't know how true that is.) I was once out walking when a mole BURST out of the ground on one side of the path and shot across it right under the noses of my two Jack Russells, then just as promptly disappeared. That was one lucky mole.

Hey Mary Skater, did you get rid of the shrew?

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