Why doesn't my dog eat cat kill?
April 28, 2006 8:35 AM   Subscribe

Why does my bulldog ignore dead critters in the house?

We have a mighty hunter in our midst, Eustace, the cat, who makes sure we are provided with a corpse or two a day, usually mice, voles, rats, birds, snakes or squirrels. My question is why does my English bulldog, Fanny, completely ignore these offerings? She is a major chow hound who only gets fed once in the morning and spends the rest of day snorking up anything she considers remotely edible. When we go for walks I have to be ever vigilent to guard against her finding old food wrappers or gum or chicken bones, etc.

But she never shows any interest in the cat kill left lying around. Lettuce with a drop of ranch dressing? oh yes! Burnt pizza crust? bring it on. Raw chicken skin? more please. Fresh, bloody rat? that is about as interesting as the rubber band on the floor, no wait...the rubber band deserves a second glance because it might have become edible in the last 2 seconds.

What is most strange to me is that a dead squirrel on our route really makes her day. She would be happy to spend all day sniffing it, but a dead squirrel in our living room is old news.

Why doesn't she show any interest in fresh meat unless I am standing in the kitchen chopping it up for dinner?
posted by Secret Life of Gravy to Pets & Animals (10 answers total)
Maybe it has a cat scent on it, and there may be something territorial or possessive going on...
posted by Chunder at 8:59 AM on April 28, 2006

Your dog probably thinks it's carrion (which I guess it technically is). Animals instinctively do not eat things they don't kill, as natural selection has weeded out those that do via disease. I'd say your dog in the kitchen is following a "Pack leader says it's OK" mentality.
posted by mkultra at 9:05 AM on April 28, 2006

Oh, wait, missed the "dead squirrel en route" part. That's odd.
posted by mkultra at 9:05 AM on April 28, 2006

How does Fanny behave around Eustace? If Eustace is the dominant pet in the family (sleeps on owner's bed, sits on owner's lap), Fanny may be intentionally ignoring the cat's predatory trophies infused with Eustace's scent. Try an experiment with one of Fanny's chew toys. Take a wash cloth and rub Fanny's coat with it, then rub the wash cloth on Fanny's chew toy. Observe whether Fanny starts to ignore that particular chew toy. I recommend putting a bell around Eustace's collar to curb some of the predatory cat behavior. I witnessed a local cat that has bell around her neck creeping up on a squirrel the other day. The squirrel escaped thanks to the bell sound.
posted by plokent at 9:12 AM on April 28, 2006

(sidetrack) plokent: agreed on the bell for critter life-saving benefits, though you might be surprised at how it doesn't stop the true hunters completely. One or our cats was so stealthy it merely decreased his output by about 60%, meaning he still brought home 2 birds a week!
posted by uni verse at 10:20 AM on April 28, 2006

maybe the indoor corpses have not had time enough to get good and stinky.
posted by MonkeySaltedNuts at 10:26 AM on April 28, 2006

Sounds like you don't eat what your cat brings into the house, so your dog figures it doesn't have to either.
posted by Good Brain at 10:47 AM on April 28, 2006

bells on cats - a dedicated hunter will adjust her stalking style so the bell doesn't make any sound

perhaps the reason why he's curious about the squirrel in the road but not the squirrel in the house is that he knows what killed the squirrel in the house ... furthermore, other animals have probably sniffed or pecked (or pissed on) the outdoor squirrel and that is interesting information to a dog, too ... with the house squirrel, it's just "that damn cat did it again and master doesn't like it" ...
posted by pyramid termite at 11:02 AM on April 28, 2006

If she is anything like Fiona, she may just be too lazy to cook it herself.

That being said, I have a dachshund which is genetically coded to kill all sorts of vermin (rabbits, rats, mice, small children). She won't eat her kill either. Bite, shake, snap neck, drop.
posted by i_am_a_Jedi at 12:06 PM on April 28, 2006

Response by poster: I think you would have to be a pet psychologist to figure out the relationship between Fanny and Eustace. Fanny pounces on Eustace when I yell, when the microwave timer dings, when someone knocks on the door, or when she receives signals from outer space. On the other hand, by sheer persistance Eustace has trained Fanny to let him nurse on her chest (not at one of her real nipples but on a cow lick where her hair swirls) and sometimes lays down to take a nap with her. In truth, Eustace prefers Fanny the dog to his human owners, and Fanny isn't sure what to think about that.

And I never yell at Eustace for hunting. Rats and mice and voles are exactly why his presence is required. Snakes don't bother me one way or the other, but I do mourn every dead bird.

I guess I will have to assume that Fanny won't touch anything Eustace has handled...well except for when she gets to lick out Eustace's cat food bowl. She is perfectly happy to have a taste of his 9Lives cat food.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 5:17 PM on April 28, 2006

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