Hunting Behavior of Domestic Cats Ancient Egyptians treated cats as sacred animals because of their superior hunting skills. Cats were kept in homes to guard against rodents and snakes. They were used to hunt small game and waterfowl. Their status in peoples’ homes were similar to family members. They were mourned at death, and was often mummified. There have been excavations of special cat cemeteries on the banks of the Nile river. One excavation uncovered over 300,000 cats! Cats solitary animals. They prefer to hunt alone, usually at twilight or dawn. This is when potential prey are most active and cats can make the most of poor light conditions. A cat’s eye has special features that enable it to see well with little light. Whiskers are also important to a cat’s ability to hunt its prey. There whiskers are highly responsive sense organs. They move forward when a cat is curious and backward when it is threatened. Whiskers help cats detect the shape of objects in the dark. It is thought that a cat uses its whiskers to direct it’s bite to a victim’s neck. Hunting behavior can be broken down into separate body movements. A cat first turns its head to the sight or sound of the object. Then it flattens its body to the ground. It glides nearer and crouches down to watch the object. It extends its tail and begins to twitch the tip. The cat turns its head from side to side. Then, suddenly, the cat releases built-up energy and pounces on the object. It grasps it in its front paws and bites it. Before or after killing the object, the cat may toss the prey, pat it, or bat it about. The objective of these movements is not clear, but all cats show most of these behaviors when they hunt.