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Hunting Instincts
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mesila posted:
My 3 y/o female tabby Urrow and I live in a really tiny room, and though she likes to play with some toys it somehow seems to grow old fast.

Urrow used to love chasing and eating roaches at our old place, which I never thought was likely all that healthy for her, what with the bug sprays and all, but I could do nothing to stop it, and I noticed the chase part certainly WAS good for her.

Our new space is kept roach-free, though. I got a Eureka idea: I bought some feeder crickets for her. Captive-bred crickets are essentially clean insects, and AFAIK, they're not associated with either human or feline diseases or parasites.

The first time I brought Urrow a bag of them, I dumped it on the floor and watched her go nuts crouching, pouncing on the leaping things, running in circles, unable to decide which ones to focus on. Now I'll open the bag in Urrow's carrier. Then I unzip the front door of it, and watch crickets slowly emerge...quickly followed by Urrow's emergence. She'll see 'em, chase 'em, and bring 'em down, like the little hunter she is.

She used to be leaving lots of the poor crickets half-alive. Seeing this, I told her in my best shaman voice, "Now, let's respect the noble cricket who gives its life to amuse you, and don't let it suffer needlessly."

I honestly didn't expect she'd actually obey that advice: but that "feline telepathy" exists, and you know darn well it does, if your cat's shared it with you; you just dare to tell no one, lest they peg you a
wingnut. But just between us: cats ARE far smarter than 99% of humans give them credit for, and I keep finding this out, and then still keep underestimating them. Cats Are Smarter Than People Think, and that must include being smart enough not to let us in on how they know things you're thinking.

I only know what I've seen, and in this case, it was this: the following month, on Cricket Day, she didn't leave anywhere near as messy a battlefield behind as before. I'd only two half-deads to put out of their misery after playtime was over. And

on the successive month's hunt, she seemed to choose to eat all but one of them...and that was probably because it had leapt into a sudsy soapdish. She must have somehow understood my feelings. (Or maybe - and yeah, OK, this is probably

more likely, I suppose - perhaps practice just has made her a better "Cricket Player"--and also, one having claws that were sharper than before, since I now wait 'til after our little hunting parties to clip them.)

Now here's the obligatory part where I ask if any problems are known to exist with letting cats catch and eat crickets. I did do my homework before our first hunt, looking up info on websites and in books; I talked to my other "Cat People"

friends, and I even gave my (very accommodating) vet a call, just to be sure. I got no red flags, or even yellow ones, from any of this research. I did have concerns about the spines on cricket back legs hurting her when swallowing them, but they're softer to the touch than they look. My friend said if I noticed any that weren't, I could clip the sharper spines off before releasing the crickets. I won't pull their legs off, as I feel that'd be crueler than necessary--and she enjoys this whole game precisely because they hop, so doing that would be counterproductive anyway.

Urrow DEFINITELY shows me lots of appreciation, after a hunt. She is not a habitual purrer, and after a hunt, I can feel the purrings with my hand even if they aren't as audible as most cats' purrs are. Try it with your cooped-up, bored indoor cat sometime...and if this strikes you as just too weird or mean, remember that these crickets would just end up being eaten alive - gulped whole, even - by monitor lizards, otherwise.

Being a gift of love to a stir-crazy cat seems--to me at least--to be a far more noble death for a cricket.
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Byroney_WebMD_Staff responded:
Mesila--thank you for sharing about you and your huntress, Urrow. I don't know if crickets are safe, but it sure sounds like the two of you are bonding over it.

How about checking with your vet's office? They should be able to tell you if cricket snacks are safe or if there are any precautions you should take.

Let us know what you find out,

Byroney
Every dog has his day - but the nights are reserved for the cats ~ Unknown


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