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Can Cats Smell Mice?

a cat that has sniffed out a mouse in a garden

We have all seen the popular cartoons about a cat trying to chase down a mouse and going nuts as the mouse plays all sorts of tricks on it, but how much of this is true in real life? It has been said that animals have an ability to sense that something is different or wrong in their environment long before humans have any idea that something is going on. When it comes to cats and mice, this is definitely true.

Cats have many of the same kinds of heightened senses that some of the world’s top predators use to track down their prey. This gives cats an increased ability to smell mice, but cats are not the only pets with this type of talent. Like their feline friends, dogs can smell mice too.

On average, both cats and dogs have a better sense of smell than humans. That is one reason it is important to pay attention if your pet starts doing weird things. For example, if they start scratching at a wall, staring at a spot on the ceiling, whining, circling a certain area or barking randomly. Their abnormal activities might be your first sign of a mouse infestation.

Beyond a cat’s smelling abilities, they can also use their other senses to detect rodent invaders in your home. In fact, your cat’s excellent hearing is even more likely than their sense of smell to be the reason why they are noticing mouse activity in your house. Both cats and dogs have hearing that is sensitive enough to detect things that you might not be able to. For example, the faint sound of mice squealing or scratching the walls.

Signs of a Mouse Infestation

If you think a mouse problem might be the reason your pets have started acting strange, it is important to look for other signs of a problem. Some possible signs that you have mice in your house include:

  • You see mice running around or find a dead mouse on your property.
  • You find mouse droppings.
  • There are holes along your walls or gnaw marks on your furniture, boxes, clothes or other items.
  • You hear noises like scratching, bumping or squeaking in your attic or walls.
  • You see mouse footprints.
  • It looks like your food containers or your pet’s food containers have been chewed on or tampered with.
  • Your house starts smelling weird or musky.
  • You spot piles of shredded paper, straw, grass, insulation or other materials that mice might be using to build a nest.

While it might be nice to have a cat that is able to detect and help capture mice in your home, these pets are not enough to control a whole population of mice. Domestic cats might be able to kill a mouse or two, but unfortunately, where there is one mouse, there are usually several more. Mice can reproduce very quickly, with some female mice producing as many as 10 litters of pups each year.

Additionally, mice have skills they can use to evade these predators. In general, once a mouse discovers that a particular area is dangerous, they will change their habits to avoid the risky area. When these rodents realize a cat is in a certain part of the house, they might change the paths they take to get to food, start going out at a different time of day or abandon the area altogether.

Furthermore, just by having pets, you might inadvertently attract mice instead of repelling them. This is because pet food is often a mouse’s favorite meal. If your cat or dog does not eat all the food in their bowl, then mice might see this as an invitation to move in. Mice can also chew through pet food bags, so they can get their fill of any food that is not stored in rodent-proof containers.

If you think you might have a mouse infestation, it is wise to get help from a rodent control professional. They have the expert training and tools that it takes to figure out where the mice are hiding and get rid of them quickly and safely. Many specialists will even offer recurring rodent control services, so your chances of another rodent encounter are slim.

a mouse nibbling on a piece of food

What Scent Will Keep Mice Away?

While some people rely on their pets to scare mice away, others use strong scents and other methods of do-it-yourself rodent control to try to keep mice away. One thing that some homeowners swear on to repel mice is to put containers of used kitty litter around their house. However, this method has not been scientifically proven to work and comes with the negative consequence of having urine-soaked kitty litter all over your home.

Another item that some homeowners use to repel mice is ammonia. This approach involves placing small caps filled with ammonia near any spot where a mouse might try to get into your home. While the smell of ammonia might drive away human houseguests, there is no evidence that it is effective in deterring mice. Plus, it is dangerous to leave ammonia within reach of children or pets because this chemical can hurt you if you inhale, ingest or touch it.

One natural remedy that might temporarily deter some mice is peppermint oil. Some DIYers suggest you can spray peppermint oil or place cotton balls soaked with this essential oil in areas where a mouse would typically build its nest. Unfortunately, while mice might avoid the area for a little while, the smell of peppermint oil and its potential for keeping mice away quickly fades.

Even if peppermint oil succeeds in preventing some mice from entering your house, it will not help get rid of mice that are already in your home. What is worse is that mice might actually take the cotton balls that are spread around your home and use them to build a nest to house their next litter of pups.

The best way to keep mice away is to contact a qualified rodent control specialist. These professionals have expert knowledge on the methods that have been scientifically proven to repel mice. Plus, they have the skills and specialized tools to get rid of the mice currently in your home and help you avoid another infestation in the future.

a mouse in a yard

How High Can a Mouse Jump?

If there was ever a critter Olympics, mice would be good contenders for the gold in the high jump. Although these pests are just inches long, they can typically jump higher than a foot off the ground—several times higher than the height of their bodies.

Beyond being expert jumpers, mice are also good at a variety of other athletic activities. For instance, they can climb vertical surfaces and balance enough to run along tree branches or even skinnier items like ropes or cables. This means they can use things like the electrical wires connected to your home or a tree limb hanging over your roof to get into your attic. They can also squeeze themselves through the gaps under doors and slip through the tiniest of spaces, including any hole bigger than the thickness of a pencil.

Since mice are basically all-around athletes, it is critical to seal up any space that a mouse could possibly use to get into your home. This involves using sturdy, chew-proof materials like steel wool or caulking to close off any hole, crack or opening on the outside of your house that is bigger than about a quarter of an inch. Some of the areas where mice most commonly enter houses include:

  • Gaps around water pipes, drains, wiring or cables
  • Cracks along the foundation
  • Broken vents or fans or openings around them
  • Crevices around windows or doors
  • An uncapped chimney
  • Loose or missing shingles, bricks or siding
  • Holes in crawl spaces or porches
  • Gaps in cellar doors
  • Loose, rotten or damaged boards

Sealing up these openings around your home is a great way to help keep mice from entering your house, but it cannot take care of the pests already in your home. If you have a mouse infestation in your house or property, do not try to deal with it without a specialist’s help.

Trying to handle a mouse problem on your own can be costly and time-consuming, plus it can put you, your family, houseguests and your pets at risk. Not only do mice carry fleas and diseases, but also many of the DIY methods that people try to use to control pests can be dangerous as well. Instead of trying to tackle this stressful situation by yourself, contact a trusted pest control specialist. These professionals have the expert training and knowledge to control mice efficiently and effectively, so you do not have to worry.

ABC Can Control the Mice on Your Property

While it can be attempting to use DIY methods to control mice, this can end up prolonging the problem. Instead of dealing with mice yourself, contact ABC Home & Commercial Services. Our highly trained pros will come up with an effective rodent control plan, so you and your family can feel comfortable at home again.

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