Why don't cats eat shrews?

Cats are very skillful hunters and always strive to improve their hunting skills. Shrews are popular exercise objects for the velvet paws - owners of free-range animals often find a dead shrew in their garden. But while mice usually eat mice, the shrews remain untouched. Why is that? Shrews are popular hunting objects for cats, but don't like the velvet paws - Shutterstock / KOO

Shrews include more than 350 species worldwide, but are only distantly related to mice. Some shrew species are already extinct, others are considered endangered. But don't worry, the little mammals your cat catches are usually garden, field or house shrews, which are quite common.

Shrew: Little pest control

Unlike mice, shrews are not rodents, but carnivores. Insects, larvae and earthworms usually determine the diet of the small mammals that are closely related to the mole and the hedgehog. Occasionally, a small vertebrate lands on your plate. There are species that even eat voles, toads and small snakes that are twice the size of themselves. Shrews, unlike mice, are considered relatively useful animals because they also fight pests. There are no tame specimens of small mammals that are suitable for keeping pets - this also distinguishes them from rodents.

Cats catch shrews but don't eat them

Shrews are loners and have a rapid metabolism. Therefore, they are constantly on the lookout for food and seduce attentive cats with their fast movements for hunting. As soon as the shrew is caught, the fur nose realizes that it doesn't like it at all. This is due to the musky secretion that shrews secrete to mark their territory. For the sensitive cat nose and the gourmet cat palate, the smell and taste of this secretion are unpleasant - so she plays with her prey for a while for practice purposes and then leaves it there. Or she brings them to your favorite people as a gift.

Why do cats play with their prey after hunting?

When cats hunt, they do not treat their prey squeamishly. Sometimes it affects human eyes ...

Are shrews poisonous to cats?

Only water shrews and swamp shrews have venom glands. Garden shrews and other species that are easily accessible to your cat are not poisonous. Even if cats accidentally come across a water or swamp shrew, there is no risk to life. A shrew's bite is painful and leads to paralysis in small mammals and frogs, but cats are usually large enough to get away with no permanent damage. So you don't need to worry if your velvet paw puts a freshly shot shrew on the doormat.