In he wild, hunting is essential to survival in any species eating meat, including cats. If the cat would not hunt, it would starve to death. However, in the household environment, cats receive their food from humans. But, if you do let your cat outside, you will know, he still hunts, no matter how well fed he is. So why does this happen?
Hunting is an innate behavior of cats. Of course, they still have to perfect it by practicing a lot, but studies show that, even cats who have never seen a mouse before, know exactly what they must do if one is presented.
So, why it’s instinctive? Because, as we said above, it’s essential for survival. Most behaviors that are essential for survival of an animal are instinctive. Like eating, right, no one told human baby how to eat, he knew it since the first minutes after the birth. And again, no one told the mice to run in her cave as a cat appears, right? Because again, it’s essential for the survival.
And similarly, if the cat, who has never taught to hunt by its mother (read here what else kittens learn from their mother), would have a larger chance to survive if he instinctively knew what he must do. And, in fact, the mother even does not teach kittens to hunt. She just provides the ability to practice, and kittens know what they must do very well, just that they need to practice before becoming successful, and that’s what their mother is providing them.
And so, a cat will hunt a mouse, even if he just had a dry food dinner at home. Because it’s in his blood – to hunt. Another experiment conducted by scientists shows that a cat, who is presented unlimited number of mice, one after the other, would first hunt, kill and eat, later, when he’s full, he would just hunt, kill and leave the mouse, and only when he’s exhausted, he will stop chasing the mouse, though he’d still follow it by a gaze. It means, cat hunts because of instinctive response, not because of hunger.