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Cats are natural-born hunters. Whether they are outdoor cats prowling for wildlife, or indoor pets keeping pests out of the house, cats are known for hunting small animals like rodents and birds. If you are a curious cat owner yourself, you might be wondering if cats ever go after bats since both animals are nocturnal.
Cats do hunt bats just like they hunt other mammals of a similar size. Bats are possible prey because cats do most of their active hunting during the evening and dawn hours when they are more likely to encounter other nocturnal creatures.
Not only do cats hunt bats, but their clever hunting techniques make them one of the biggest dangers to bats. If you have a pet cat who hunts bats, you might think that behavior is just as harmless as going after a mouse in your house. However, when cats hunt bats, it can be harmful to the bat population. It can also pose a threat to the cat.
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Do Cats Go After Bats?
People are often surprised to learn that cats will go after bats when they have the opportunity. While cats are incredibly agile, their dominion is over the ground and up high where they can climb. Bats can fly, so they should be safe most of the time. The truth is that cats pose a significant threat to the bats in their area.
Bats have a few natural predators, including owls and hawks. However, cats are so skilled at hunting them the Bat Conservation Trust considers them one of the most common causes of bat deaths.
If you are a cat owner, it might be hard to imagine your cuddly friend being this adept of a predator. But, cute and sweet as they are, cats are still instinctive predators. So, for an animal as small as a bat, cats are a lethal force.
How Do Cats Kill Bats?
There are a few different techniques cats use to hunt and kill bats effectively. Cats cannot fly, of course, but they are intelligent and skilled hunters. They find other ways to obtain their prey.
- Just like when they hunt birds, cats can hunt and kill bats from the ground.
- A typical house cat has a five-foot to six-foot vertical jump.
- Cats also hunt bats at the bats’ roost.
Cats are fast, and they can get quite a bit of air just from jumping. A cat’s vertical jump does not include extra air when running or when jumping off of elevated points. So, they are quite capable of catching bats when they are flying close to the ground.
Cats are most dangerous to bats when they hunt at the source. Cats are known for finding bat roosts (where bats sleep) and waiting outside until a bat emerges. Cats will frequently climb above the roost and position themselves on top. That way, they can quickly reach a bat as soon as it exits the roost in the evening.
It is especially common for cats to hunt this way if the bats have made their roost on a house or building. Bats frequently find shelter in roofing nooks and other small spaces outside a building. This is ideal for an outdoor cat that is already prowling in populated areas.
How Do Cats Catch Bats?
It is one thing for cats to hunt bats, but how often do cats catch bats? As is the case with any form of hunting, a cat might swat at a bat and miss. However, cats are proficient enough hunters that many theorize they have a notable effect on the population of their prey. This includes bats, birds, and small animals.
An estimated 30 percent of injured bats brought into rehabilitation centers are suffering from cat attack injuries. Researchers have found by performing DNA tests on the bite wounds of both injured and dead bats that domesticated cats caused the injuries.
How Do Cats Kill Bats?
An encounter with a cat is often lethal to a bat, even if the cat fails to catch and kill the bat directly. Cats have powerful natural weapons in their claws and teeth, and bats have delicate wings. A cat bite or cat scratch could damage the bat’s wings, which are made of fragile membranes. A bat’s injured wing will prevent it from flying correctly.
A downed bat is much more likely to fall victim to other predators or struggle to hunt for themselves. So, even if the cat does not kill the bat themselves, a cat attack can easily be deadly for a bat. The bacteria in cats’ saliva and on their claws can also infect the bats, which may eventually kill them.
Cats and Bats
You might be wondering whether cats hunting bats is harmful to bat populations. After all, cats are predators, and hunting bats may just be part of their natural order. However, there are a few factors that make this hunting habit quite harmful.
- A high number of cats exist outdoors and they do hunt
- Continuous predation on one roost of bats
- Effects on bat reproduction
The first issue is the high concentration of domestic cats in certain areas. Because of stray and outdoor cats in areas with humans, there is a much more dense predator population than you would typically find in the wild. This can significantly decrease the number of bats in these areas and ultimately harm the whole area’s ecosystem.
If a cat finds a roost in a particular area, they are likely to return to it frequently. Because of this, a single cat could significantly decrease a colony. In the summer, cat hunting often affects the female bat population. Since this is the same time bats give birth and raise young, it can also inhibit the colony’s ability to reproduce.
The impact of cats on the bat population harms the whole ecosystem. Healthy bat populations keep the number of insects in an environment under control by hunting. They also cross-pollinate plants and promote biodiversity.
Are Bats Dangerous to Cats?
The risk to the bat population from cats is great, but hunting bats can also be dangerous to cats. Bats are the most common rabies transmitters in the US. While it is unlikely for a bat to infect a predatory cat, the odds go up when the cat spends around the bat.
Rabies is most easily passed from one animal to another if the infected animal bites the other. So, if your cat frequently hunts bats, there is a higher possibility that a bat will bite the cat at some point. Of course, the best way to ensure your cat is safe from rabies during any wild animal encounter is by getting them vaccinated yearly.
Can You Stop Your Cat from Hunting?
You may not be able to totally stop your cat from hunting since it is in their nature, but you can reduce their ability to hunt wildlife.
To learn more about whether cats like to hunt, check out my article: Click Here.
Due to the harm it causes the bat population and the potential danger your cat can face while hunting bats, the best option is to prevent your cat from hunting bats if at all possible. The key steps to follow are the most important when protecting your cat and nearby bats from harm.
- Keep your cat inside at all times.
- Change the time of day when you let your cat outside.
- Be aware of nearby bat roosts and prevent your cat from accessing them.
Keep Your Cat Indoors
The best option to prevent your cat from hunting is to keep your cat indoors. Inside your home is the safest place for your cat. Keeping your cat indoors will ensure it does not get hit by a vehicle, hurt by another animal, or lost. However, if your cat is accustomed to roaming outdoors, this might not be a change you want to make.
The most significant step you can take is to make sure your cat does not have access to a bat roost. If you know there is a bat roost near you, do your best to keep your cat away from it. Cats are notoriously adept hunters, so you should keep your cat indoors and prevent them from hunting altogether if there is a bat roost nearby.
Keeping Your Cat Indoors at Night
Another option is changing the time of day and time of year you let your cat roam outside. If you keep your cat inside during the evening, it will be less likely to encounter bats. This is crucial in the summer when your cat is more likely to harm the mothers and baby bats.
Catio for Cats
When you want to give your cat some outside time, use a catio. You can let your cat spend some time outside in the yard and still be in an enclosed area if you have a catio.
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It may come as a surprise that cats hunt bats. While house cats are usually small, soft, and cuddly, they have strong hunting instincts in their genetic code. Bats are nocturnal flying mammals that are out prowling at the same time cats are. It is only natural that the two animals would cross paths.
However, it is essential not to let your cat hunt bats if possible. Bat populations are crucial to the ecosystem. A bat can also harm your cat if it is carrying rabies. Keep your cat up-to-date on your cat’s vaccinations, and keep it inside if you can.
If you enjoyed this article, please check out a few more:
- Do Cats Hunt Rabbits? The Terrifying Truth: Click Here.
- Do Cats Hunt Moles? Fascinating Answers: Click Here.
- Do Baby Cats Drink Water? Read This Now: Click Here.
Here are some of my favorite cat products
In addition to checking out some other More Meows articles, I hope you’ll check out some of my favorite cat products as well. These are affiliate links, so if you end up using them, I’ll get a commission at no extra cost to you. These are the products I really do find most helpful.
Litter Box: I started out with normal, traditional litter boxes for my cat. Then, I tried this automatic litter box on Amazon (affiliate link), which helped reduce the litter upkeep. Finally, I am now a believer in the Litter-Robot 3 Connect on Amazon (affiliate link). This robotic litter box is not for everyone based on the price tag, but for me the benefits (very little upkeep, works efficiently, clean, mobile app) far outweighed the cost.
Cat Tree: I have purchased a couple of this Amazon Basics Cat Tree on Amazon (affiliate link). My cat spends a lot of time on and around this cat tree, which I position near my sofa. She uses the scratching posts on this cat tree multiple times a day, which means she is not scratching the sofa instead.
Cat Water Fountain: I love this cat water fountain on Amazon (affiliate link). There are three main benefits to having a water fountain like this for your cat. The first benefit is that it keeps water running so that your cat doesn’t need to drink still water. The second benefit is that it filters the water. The third benefit is that it will keep your cat hydrated!