Rats are pretty much guaranteed to make most people hate them. They can cause serious health problems, especially for small children who may accidentally ingest some fur or fecal matter.
If you’ve ever wondered why cats seem so smug and self-confident, it’s because they use their clever paws to take out the competition.
Cat species have evolved special muscles and bones that enable them to efficiently kill rats and mice. By using these skills more frequently, individual cats grow larger than average and become popular pets.
But aside from inspiring smiles, there is another reason why cats are famous killers. It’s an instinctual behavior that many cat owners even encourage by giving your cat free access to other rodents.
When rats are exposed to cats, one of their first things they will do is try to get close to the cat by grooming it. This is your normal rat behavior when you have a dog or any other type of animal that loves to be groomed.
However, with how playful some kittens can become, this soon turns into more than just a casual meeting. When a hungry rat tries to groom a kitten, he may end up getting bit instead!
This happens because when a rat licks an area where a cat has fur that comes in contact with saliva, the cat sometimes loses its grip due to the size difference. If the cat is very young, then it may not know what happened either – it could drown in its own milk!
For both animals involved, this can easily result in death for the rat if she/he gets stuck between the teeth or bitten on the neck. For the cat, drowning in her/his own milk can also happen unless she/he is taught basic safety tips.
Given enough time, repeated exposure to these behaviors can make almost every cat feel insecure around rats, which can lead to them developing fear of them. This fear can eventually turn into aggression towards similar sized rodents.
Getting into food
When rats are hungry, they will often do anything to find something to eat. They will even dig through garbage or chew off pieces of other waste that may taste good to them.
If you happen to notice your home being invaded by hungry fur balls, there are some strategies you can use to save yourself and your house!
The first thing you should do is make sure all food items are locked up and out of reach. This includes both edible and non-edible materials such as fruits, vegetables, and meats. If possible, put these in coverable containers so that only a small part of the item is exposed.
Never leave leftover foods at room temperature, especially if you have rice or pasta. These could be eaten along with the covers, leaving you with contaminated food that grows more bacteria. Also, never let leftovers sit for too long, eventually going bad.
Make sure to always clean and wash any dishes immediately after using them. Never place dirty dishes in the dishwasher, instead throwing it in a pot of water to soak. Make sure to also brush your teeth soon after eating so no saliva is wasted.
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Roosting too close to each other
When rats are in search of food, they will go into empty shells or holes and explore different areas to find something to eat. If a cat is roasting outside and a rat comes along for some snacks, it can get bitten and infected.
Rats also use their whiskers to feel around and determine if an area is safe or not. A growing number of cats have very long hairs that stick up which make it hard for them to reach their paws and thus prevent them from grooming properly.
When cats growl or hiss at rodents, this sometimes elicits a protective response where the rodent burrows deeper or hides more thoroughly. This may cause the predator to lose interest and move on.
Deciding who is the alpha rat
Sometimes, even though you might feel like the underdog, that doesn’t protect you from being attacked.
In turn, it can make you become an aggressor. When animals are put in close proximity to each other, there’s always one animal that decides they want to be top dog.
That individual will start acting aggressively towards their counterparts, trying to establish dominance.
For example, say two dogs meet up after having been separated for a while. The one that was left waiting longer becomes jealous and angry, so he/she starts barking more loudly and showing off his/her muscles.
This usually isn’t very productive since most people don’t like dogs and going outside to play with them is expensive! So, the weaker dog gives up and backs down, which makes him/ her lose face.
Now, instead of playing together, both dogs are chasing away potential fun time activities.
So how does this apply to cats?
Well, just like when two dogs meet, if one cat feels like he/ she is not respected or acknowledged as the top feline then he/ she will try to prove themselves by being bigger and stronger. This sometimes takes things such as eating meat, which could win them the respect of another cat or a human.
Deciding who is the beta rat
In any pack of animals, there will be one individual that takes charge. This animal becomes what we call the alpha predator – or in this case, cat. They are able to establish dominance over other animals by being larger and stronger than they are.
By acting as the leader of your pet’s pack, you can choose either to follow them (beta) or not (alpha).
If you notice your dog barking at passing cars, try introducing some new dogs into their lives. If his behavior does not improve, it may be time to say goodbye.
If you ever feel like walking away, remember that most pets live happy, healthy lives when they have both parents who love and care for them.
Cat owners should consider spaying or neutering their cats so that they do not become unhygienic litter trays for rats.