You probably know that cat urine gets rid of mice. But did you also know it can act as a mouse aphrodisiac? Scientists have discovered that cat pee works like an all-natural Viagra for rodents.
So is your cat driving mice away or causing a breeding spree? Let's look at how cat urine affects mice in your home.
Will mice stay away if you have cats?
If they're smart, yes.
Mice know cats are in your home because they can smell their predators. The mere whiff of cat urine and litter is often enough to scare the mice away.
According to research, mice are conditioned to turn in the opposite direction when they smell cat urine. However, mice that are exposed to the chemical composition of cat pee earlier on in life are less likely to shun the scent of cats later.
Research has shown that mice develop a physiological response towards this cat-specific compound. A mouse's neurons will pick up the smell of cat litter, triggering a reaction that increases stress hormones. In fact, when a pregnant mouse smells cat urine, the animal aborts its fetuses or gives birth to a small litter.
But if the mice are exposed to the compounds in cat urine at a young age, they will react differently to the same smell later in life. In fact, mice can permanently lose their aversion to cat urine. As babies, mice have higher environmental sensitivity, meaning that more neuron receptors will detect the scent. The receptors trigger the release of even more stress hormones.
In simple terms, the emotional response is higher but the triggered behavior is reduced. This trend is useful for both the mice and the cats since both kinds of animals like to live near humans.
Cat urine has been known to scare mice away, but it seems like it also acts as an aphrodisiac for these rodents. What's going on? Do cats create days of terror...or nights of unrestrained rodent passion?
The truth is cat pee scares mice away. Therefore, some people assumed (wrongly) that scared mice aren’t perceived as sexy by other mice. To test this assertion, scientists conducted research.
They found that the male mice exposed to cat pee were more aggressive - more macho, if you will. The female mice in heat who were exposed to the same pee spent most of their time sniffing for males who had also been exposed to cat pee. It's great for mouse matchmaking, but it probably won't cause mice to come running, eager to douse themselves in Love Potion #9 from your litterbox.
What are effective ways to clean up cat urine and keep out mice?
Maybe you don't care about the science of cat pee. You just want to clean your carpet and eliminate mice in a socially acceptable way. Here are our best tips to do that.
Remove as much urine as possible. The less cat urine you leave after an accident, the more you don’t need to deep clean your rugs. So, when you realize your cat has urinated outside its litter box, blot up the excess pee with a paper towel. It won’t get rid of all cat urine, but it’ll leave less of it for you to handle later.
Use enzymatic cleansers. Using an enzymatic cleaner is the most effective ways to clean up cat urine. It releases cultures that eat stinky cat urine, leaving the carpet as scent free as it was before the unfortunate event. (Also, if your cat has more than one litter box accident, consult your vet.)
Think twice before using mothballs, ammonia, peppermint oil, or dryer sheets. Ammonia disguises itself as predator’s pee. But if a cat ingests the stuff, the animal can die a painful death. Mothballs, too, are highly toxic to household pets. Mice detest the smell of peppermint, but so do cats. And dryer sheets are rarely an effective solution.
Mouse traps, kitty litter, bait stations, and exterminators do a better job of rodent control than cats.
Your pet cat is unlikely to have either the interest or the ability to keep your home truly rodent free. If you are dealing with a vermin problem, it may be best to stick to more conventional methods. A warning on mouse traps - cats are curious creatures and can get hurt in them. Also, make sure your exterminator knows you have household pets before he or she creates a plan for your home.
As the cartoon characters Tom & Jerry proved so often, the relationship between cats and mice is a complicated one - especially for the mice. The presence of a cat and its litterbox in your home may be enough to deter a family of mice from setting up housekeeping. If not, make sure your cat stays safe while you deal with the rodents.