Nature or Nurture?

One of the things I enjoy about owning a cat is that when I watch them moving about I feel that I can sense the wild animals they descended from. Even the smoochiest domestic pussy cat will go through the motions of stalking and hunting prey even if the prey is just a piece of paper or a toy.

Polly watching a sparrow.

Polly watching a sparrow.

This instinct is wired into them. It is not that cats are evil, this is just what they do. Take Polly for example, she was abandoned as a young kitten so she did not have the opportunity to learn to hunt from her mother. She has largely been kept inside since she has been with me so she has not been able to hunt out-of-doors. Nevertheless Polly has always been fascinated by anything that moves. As a kitten she would endlessly play with her cat toy until she captured and “killed” the ball, she pounces on things that you dangle in front of her. Once she caught and killed a mouse inside the house although having caught it she lost interest as it didn’t do anything.

image kittenplaying with toy

Polly had endless hours of fun trying to catch the ball inside. Eventually she “killed” it and i had to get her another one.

Now she’s become interested in birds and hangs around the apple tree looking up at them. She hasn’t yet figured out how to climb it, perhaps she thinks a bird might fall off, just the same it’s plain to see that she has the same hunting instinct as a cat who has had to find its own food.

Polly is interested in the birds in the apple tree.

Polly is interested in the birds in the apple tree.


We can’t stop cats being cats, all we can do is try to minimise the damage to wildlife. Feral cats are a big problem in many places and the authorities are taking steps to manage them. I don’t really like the idea of cat culls but I accept that sometimes it has to happen. I have met people who have taken it on themselves to catch feral cats and have them neutered then release them where they were found. This is a more humane way of managing them I think but most importantly people need to be encouraged to get their cats neutered. If there was some kind of subsidy to vets to make it cheaper that would probably help.  In many areas there are already laws requiring cats to be kept inside at night or even to be contained at all times. That is not the case here yet but I think it will be one day. I’d like to have a cat run for Polly set up before that day comes. She is really just as happy hunting toys as wildlife and I love to see the birds coming to my garden.

These are all mine!

These are all mine!

3 thoughts on “Nature or Nurture?

  1. Yes, it’s their instinct, I bought Shyna from a farm back then when she was 12 weeks old, but I was told she was never outside. Anyway, she loves to hunt invisible things, or flies, paper balls or just anything, except if she is tired or out of humor.

    It’s just a week ago when I saw a report in the local news that we do now have a big problems with cats in Schleswig-Hosltein that are not neutered. Some towns did start to set up new laws according to the report, it can cost the owner a few thousand Euros in some cities if they let their cat out without neutering (also females). These laws are not in my city yet, but there are some towns in our federal state where the problem is big, so that I understand what they try with new laws.

    Liked by 1 person

    • if she ever figures out how to climb that tree I’ll be running to scare the birds away before she can get to them but she is a very cautious cat where learning new skills is concerned.


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