Kittens and Learning to Hunt

It is important to remember that cats are “obligate carnivores” which means that they are designed to survive on meat alone, and unless they get certain proteins from their diet then they won’t survive. Of course, in the great outdoors they get meat by hunting.

This is why cats possess varying degrees of aggression. Part of their development involves honing their hunting instinct, playing rough with their siblings and learning to use their claws. Aggression in cats isn’t necessarily an abnormal behaviour, just a necessary part of their character.

Cat’s have evolved to be crepuscular hunters. This means that they hunt at dawn and dusk, and so are most active during these times. This could be why your cat disappears at dawn and twilight, and spends most of the day sleeping and generally being lazy.

Instinct and learning

A cats ability to hunt stems from a combination of instinct and learning. Aggression, agility and sharp claws are all features of a cat that have evolved; however, a cat will only become an adept hunter after being taught to hunt by its mother. In a similar way, humans have a propensity to learn language, but we must learn the specifics of language from our environment.

The mother is instrumental in the development of a cat, and in particular in the development of the hunting ability. You may have seen your mother cat bring dead animals to your kittens, as if to get them used to the sight of dead prey.

Kittens will then instinctively begin to toss the prey around, and to practice pouncing etc. Anyone who has ever watched a cat hunt will know that cats seem to objectify their prey, rather than recognising it as another living animal it is seen merely as a plaything or food item. Interestingly, felines are the only animals that seem to play with the carcasses of their prey in this way.

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