Mice have a habit of building a home wherever they feel safe and secure. When they move into a house, they will locate an unoccupied place to stay and breed such as beneath the stove, in the walls or in the attic. If the mice sense there’s a cat around, they are highly likely to look for a better abode where they won’t be hunted frequently.
Can mice sense a cat in the house? According to a study done by Scripps Research Institute in San Diego, California, cats emit a certain chemical signal that scars away mice. When mice sense specific proteins found in cat saliva, rat urine or snake skin, they get terrified.
Yes, you read that right. These proteins are called Mups, and they act on cells found in the vomeronasal organ in the mouse. Scientists say that the proteins trigger fearful reactions in the mice. This goes to show that mice have evolved receptors that can pick up chemical signals from cats. Read on to find out more information on how mice can sense the presence of a cat in a house.
How Do Mice Sense the Presence of Cats?
The vomeronasal organ, which is a special sensory organ found in mice, contains neurons that have the ability to detect chemical signals produced by a cat. This special organ is connected to the memory, emotion and hormone release parts of the brain.
Many mammals, including mice, communicate with each other through pheromones. These are chemical messages which are excreted from their bodies to trigger a response in other animals belonging to the same species. The study done by scientists from Scripps Research Institute revealed that in mice, the neurons found in the vomeronasal organ are also be stimulated by chemical signals emitted by cats and other predators. The proteins cause the mice to exhibit signs of being scared.
The discovery made by the scientists showed that mice had evolved receptors that could help them avoid being eaten by cats through sensing the proteins they emit. Even a mouse that has never seen a cat before in its life will cower in a corner when one is around. This goes to show that normal mice are born with the ability to detect cats through the vomeronasal organ.
As we saw earlier, Mups are the class of proteins that mice sense in their predators. A majority of terrestrial vertebrates release Mups. These proteins can be used for chemical communication amongst animals of the same species, and also to send information across different species. Mups may cause male mice to fight each other based on how faintly or strongly they smell their rival.
From this information, it is clear to see that mice can sense the presence of a cat in the house. Cats are indeed the best natural mouse deterrent. Mice will most likely leave a house when they pick up the scent of proteins present in a cat’s saliva due to fear.
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How to Choose a Cat That Will Capture Mice?
Not all cats are effective at catching mice. A cat that has stayed outside for a while will most likely know how to hunt effectively. In rural areas, there are barn cats in need of good homes.
A local society or animal shelter will know the background of a cat and should help a person in choosing the right cat for hunting mice in a home. A kitten is sweet, but might not know how to hunt. It is better to get a mother cat and kittens, as the mother will be able to teach the kittens how to hunt.
Cats which have always lived indoors and haven’t been exposed to any sort of hunting games may actually ignore mice. A cat that doesn’t know how to hunt can still be effective in keeping off mice by being encouraged to visit the places where mice stay. These feline creatures love to brush against things, leaving their scent behind, and by so doing they scare away mice.
Best Cats For Catching Mice:
- American Shorthair
- British Shorthair
- Maine Coon
- Turkish Angora
Mouse Prevention Tips
It is important to take preventative measures to ensure that once mice have been effectively removed from a house, that they do not come back. Here are some of the preventative mice control tips that should be successful in keeping these creatures away.
- Make sure that all the food in the house is kept in an airtight container, preferably made of metal or glass. Plastic containers should be very thick and have very tight-fitting lids.
- Put a mouse deterrent like mint, cloves and bay cloves next to your food storage place.
- Always clean up after small kids and pets, because they tend to drop food particles in unlikely areas.
- Block the entryway of mice from outside by filling in any small cracks or openings in doorways, garage door flaps and many other areas.
- Check under the sink and cupboards for any openings and seal them. Mice love kitchens.
- Scan the perimeter of your property to look for easy nesting places. Don’t put any firewood, compost, or piles of leaves next to your house because pests like to breed there.
- Clean up thoroughly after a mouse infestation to prevent new pests from moving in and spread of disease. Mice carry diseases, therefore cleaning thoroughly is crucial.
- Hire a pest control expert to find out where the rodents were coming into your home. A trained professional will know the most vulnerable areas in the house.
Interesting Facts About Mice
To get rid of mice and keep them gone completely, it is important to understand their behaviour. A good hunter needs to understand his/her prey. Here are some facts about mice that I feel are very useful when it comes to trying to eliminate them from a home.
Article by Barbara Read
Barbara Read is the heart and soul behind CatBeep.com. From her early love for cats to her current trio of feline companions, Barbara's experiences shape her site's tales and tips. While not a vet, her work with shelters offers a unique perspective on cat care and adoption.
- They live in groups – In a house that is infested with mice, they can be found living as a family in an unoccupied area. There’s a social hierarchy in the group.
- They keep to a small living area – Mice have small, defined living areas. They will only travel a short distance (about 25 feet) from where they live to access their food source. In times of food scarcity, they might travel further, but it is rare. Droppings spotted in different areas in a house more than 30ft apart signal that there are several families of mice staying there.
- They are territorial animals – Mice mark their territory with their urine. Thy pee on kitchen floors and wherever else they travel in a house they have invaded. What’s more? These creatures examine their territories each day to see if anything is different. This is why they might not get into traps set for them straight away. To be cleverer than mice, the best strategy is to place traps that are unset in their territories. Wait a few days until the creatures get used to the mouse traps and are not cautious, then set the traps.
- They breed super-fast – Female mice give birth to litters of 5-8 babies approximately 20 days after conception. A female mouse matures very fast and can mate with males as early as six weeks of age. Every female can reproduce 5-10 litters each year. A mouse can live up to the age of 4, that is if it is not eaten by a predator or caught in a mouse trap.
- They leave scent trails – Mice converse with each other by use of pheromones. These are chemicals excreted by their bodies to trigger a response in other creatures of the same species.
- These creatures can get into the smallest of areas – A mouse can get squeeze into almost anywhere, even the tiniest places. This is because it only has to fit its skull in the opening, the remaining body easily fits through.
- They are great jumpers and climbers – Some mice have the ability to jump a foot or more to get to the food or run away from danger. As a result, putting food on a higher place will not deter these creatures. Moreover, mice can climb up a brick wall to enter a home.
- They are nocturnal – Mice sleep mostly during the day and are more active at night.
- They have excellent hearing and good vision – Mice can hear much higher tones than humans, and they communicate with each other using high-pitched squeaks. Furthermore, they can see very well and will use their whiskers to find their way along surfaces and sense changes in the surroundings.