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Home > Cats > Why Do Cats Pounce? Feline Behavior Explained

Why Do Cats Pounce? Feline Behavior Explained

Burmese cat face before pounce hunting to toy mouse

Cats in the wild are apex predators, but even domestic cats are exceptional hunters. If you’ve ever had an outdoor cat, you likely know that already because cats tend to bring home the spoils of their hunts. Cats are such effective hunters that there has even been a case in which domestic cats were responsible for the extinction of an endangered species: the Lyall’s wren.

These strong hunting instincts often make an appearance in the behavior of cats. Some of these behaviors may seem unusual or funny to us, but they’re actually totally normal for cats. Pouncing is one of these – it is a normal hunting behavior for cats.


Why Do Cats Pounce?

Pouncing is a completely normal behavior for cats, and it’s directly related to their desire and ability to hunt. Cats are stalking hunters, and pouncing allows them to catch their prey off guard after sneaking up on them.

While your cat gets meals handed to them essentially (and sometimes literally) on a silver platter, it doesn’t take away their hunting instincts. Hunting instincts are deeply ingrained in cats after a few million years of existence, so feeding them some kibble and wet food twice a day isn’t going to undo those instincts.

Pouncing is a good way for your cat to use their hunting instincts while getting exercise. Bored cats may become noisy, destructive, and stressed, so keeping your cat active and entertained is a great way to prevent this from happening. Play is one of the top ways to encourage your cat to use their instincts in a fun and safe way.

cat getting ready to pounce
Image By: Gundula Vogel, Pixabay

Why Do Cats Stalk?

Stalking often leads up to pouncing, so it’s a natural part of the hunting instincts of cats. In nature, stalking allows cats to sneak up on their prey. In your house, you might see your cat stalking people or other animals in the home. If your cat is stalking small animals, like rodents, or stalking and then attacking people or animals, then the behavior needs to be remedied immediately.

If your cat is simply stalking their toys or stalking people and animals in an attempt to have a playful romp, then your cat is just looking for something to do. You can encourage your cat to stalk appropriately by providing them with interactive games and toys to provide an appropriate outlet for their instincts.

two cats on a tree looking in one direction in front of a white wall
Image By: Teixeira, Shutterstock


In Conclusion

Pouncing is a perfectly normal behavior for your cat to do, and it’s a good way for your cat to tap into their natural hunting instincts. Pouncing provides your cat with an outlet for energy and appeasement of instinct.

For bored cats, pouncing may occur in inappropriate situations, like aimed towards other animals or children in the home. This behavior is inappropriate, and it’s not acceptable for your cat to do this. This type of behavior should be corrected and discouraged.

Appropriate outlets for hunting instincts can be provided via games, toys, and even puzzles. Provide your cat with an enriching environment that fulfills their instinctual need to do hunting behaviors, like pouncing and stalking.


Featured Image Credit: Viacheslav Lopatin, Shutterstock

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