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Why Do Cats Bring You Dead Animals

↯ Key takeaway points

  • Cats bring dead animals as a result of their prey drive and hunting instincts.
  • Cats may also bring dead animals as a symbol of love and care, viewing their owners as family.
  • To manage a cat's tendency to bring dead animals, redirect their prey drive with active play, get a collar with bells, and keep cats indoors when possible.
  • Be aware of the danger cats can pose to wildlife and take steps to prevent them from hunting, such as keeping cats away from bird feeders.
A pet lover passionate about educating readers about animal health and care. Love reading studies and recent research.
Reviewed by Jay
BsC (Hons) Animal Behaviour & Welfare graduate with a passion for advocating for misunderstood animals.
Published on
Tuesday 9 May 2023
Last updated on
Tuesday 9 May 2023
Why Do Cats Bring You Dead Animals
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Like dogs, cats also have strong instincts to hunt. They started showing off those hunting skills as they stalked birds and rabbits in the wild. Yet, as they became domesticated their hunting abilities didn’t stop. As a matter of fact, their active prey drive could be the reason why cats bring you dead animals. 

Why Does My Cat Bring Me Dead Animals? 

Current lineages of cats came from an ancient breed of wild cat from the Middle East. Upon that discovery, people began owning cats and started to domesticate them. Yet, since the domestication process was slower compared to other animals, they retained some of their wild sides. Hence, one reason cats bring you things is due to the prey retrieval instincts they use during hunting. 

Meanwhile, there’s no fixed answer as to why cats bring you dead animals. So, over the years, scientists analyzed cats’ behavior. For starters, it was found that cats like to bring their hunt to a safe place. Also, since they consider their humans a safe place, they will most likely bring their hunt to their owners. 

On the other hand, other studies also stated that the purpose cats bring dead animals to their owners is because of emotional attachment. Cats may not be as active in showing their affectionate side compared to dogs, but they are known to bring gifts like dead animals as a symbol of love and care. 


Hunting instincts is the main factor why your cats bring you dead animals. Despite having a small stature compared to their cousin, tigers, cats are also prone to have high prey drives. They use that prey drive as their tactic to survive in the wild. With that said, cats kill at least 3 to 4% of small animals for their diet and bring home the 15% of their hunt as a gift to their owners. 

Modern-day cats, although they’re small, are predators. Also, when they don’t have kittens they reflect their protective and provider instincts to their owners. Hence, a cat bringing dead animals to its owner is a part of feline instincts which means a human is an accepted family member. 


Research in 2021 stated that indoor cats are most likely to be aggressive hunters compared to outdoor cats. Also, the study suggested that cats kept indoors are curious about the outside world, so they tend to have more predatory plays than usual. They chase lasers, hunt paper balls, and sometimes hide objects in their den. 

As a result, when they’re accidentally let out, cats bring dead animals to their homes because that’s what they learned during playtime. Plus, cats are social beings too, so they may bring you gifts or random objects as a sign that they want to play with you. 

Showing Affection

Although cats may look bored all the time, little did we know, they’re one of the sweetest creatures in the world. To be precise, cats bond with humans, in the same way, babies connect with their parents. 

Also, when cats adore you, they have unique ways of showing it. For instance, cats bringing you dead animals is a perfect example of attachment to their owners. Even though dead animals may look disgusting, a cat bringing gifts like that is a sign of love. Further, according to science, they share their hunts with humans because they view their owners as family

How to Stop Your Cat From Bringing You Dead Animals 

Cats bringing gifts to their owners may look cute and touching. Yet, what happens if cats bring you dead animals? As much as you love your pet, a dead animal in your bed is not a pleasant sight. Hence, here are some steps on how you can manage your pet’s prey retrieval instincts. 

Redirect Their Prey Drive

One way to redirect your pet’s prey drive is to engage him in active play. Well, even though active play contributes to harnessing survival instincts in cats, this also serves as a cure for your pet’s unique gift-giving antiques. 

Cats bring home dead animals because they lack that kind of stimulation during play. To be precise, pets like activities that involve chasing, running, and play biting. So, when those needs don’t become satisfied, cats will enhance their hunting skills by killing small animals they find outdoors. 

Get a Collar With Bell

It’s no doubt that cats are sleek hunters. They catch their prey without making much noise. Then, they will store their catch in a safe place to eat later or offer it as a present to their family. However, if they don’t have their feline family to look after, it’s most likely that cats will bring you dead things.

To solve that dilemma, getting a bell collar for your cat can help lessen the dead things on your floor. Well, that solution works because the clinging of bells alerts the prey that a predator is nearby. So, it gives them a chance to escape and hence, makes your household safe from dead animal offerings. 

Keep Your Cat Indoor

If cats bring dead animals home, then it must mean one thing, and that’s they’re always outside hunting. To reduce the possibility of dead animals in your house, keep your cat mostly indoors. Moreover, according to a study in 2013, cats hunt at least 14% of mammals, birds, and reptiles to extinction. 

Also, if pets are not kept indoors, dead animals are not the only thing cats can bring home. Well, they can also transmit zoonotic diseases such as toxoplasmosis, parasitic worms, and cat scratch disease to humans. 

Be Careful With Bird Feeders

When you own a cat, you may have noticed his unusual chirping behavior when he sees birds. Cats like to watch or chase birds all because of their instincts. Also, in the wild, small birds are their top choice as prey. So, if possible, it’s better to stay away from bird feeders so cats won’t bring you dead animals, particularly birds anymore. 

Plus, cats kill up to four billion birds in the 48 states of the US. Besides, only about two-thirds of that census belong to killings made by feral cats. With that in mind, if pet owners won’t control their cats around birds, then the avian population will lessen drastically over time. 

Although somewhat disgusting, the purpose behind why your cat brings you dead animals is actually touching. For cats, they acknowledge their owners as family, so as a family member, they feel the need to bring gifts. However, if their hunting instincts go out of hand, then as a pet owner, you may find alternative ways to redirect their prey drives. 

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