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Do Cats Kill Rats?

Rowan Burgess |

Although commonly depicted as being the ultimate pet for pest control management (looking at you, Tom & Jerry!), cats might not be the excellent rat-catchers we make them out to be. Though they're renowned for their prowling behaviour, your beloved pet may not be the ideal solution if you have a severe infestation.

If you're wondering to what extent your cat might be able to keep rats away, you're in the right place. We'll take you through how likely it is your cat will come to your rescue, and we've got some handy alternative rodent control methods if it doesn't work out. Let's get into it.

How Effective Are Cats at Catching Rats?

Here's the short answer: not as effective as you might think. Since cats are known for catching mice, it's ordinarily assumed that they can catch rats in the same way. 

Unfortunately, the truth is that rats are quite different from mice, especially when it comes to size. Rats put up much more of a fight than mice do, and that takes a lot of the enjoyment out of it for your feline friend. 

Cats possess the physical ability to kill rats, but will they? Most likely not. It isn't worth the effort, and this is particularly true if multiple rats have set themselves up in your home and you only have one cat. 

Will Rats Stay Away if You Have Cats?

This is a complicated question to answer. You might think the presence of a cat would keep rats firmly away, but in actuality, they aren't as threatened by cats as you might expect. However, studies have shown that the odour of a cat does act as a deterrent for rats to come out into the open to search for food or water. 

Although this won't prevent or remove an infestation, it will hinder the ability of the rats to reproduce and continue to survive in your home. This isn't a surefire way to deal with an infestation, however. The only real way to respond to a problem like this is with direct action.

Alternative Rodent Control Solutions

It can be difficult to know how to best respond to a rat infestation. Luckily, there are multiple options to choose from that should solve your problem quickly and safely. Let's walk you through some of the most effective. 

Snap Traps

Snap traps are the most commonly depicted kind of trap. You will probably have seen these traps with a cube of cheese to entice the rodent. They work by using a spring-loaded bar to kill the rodent on contact. It's imperative that these are set up with safety considerations in mind, especially if there are children in your home. Many newer traps are enclosed in plastic boxes to prevent unsafe contact. 

Electronic Traps

Similar to snap traps, electronic traps will kill the rodent almost instantly. However, this kind does so via an electric shock rather than a spring bar. These traps are relatively new compared to older designs, but they remain effective. When purchasing your electronic trap, make sure it's specified for use with rats. Some are designed for mice and produce a much weaker shock that may not be fit to kill rats. 

Enclosure Boxes

The plastic boxes we mentioned when discussing snap traps are sometimes sold separately and are called ‘enclosure boxes’. These often feature lockable lids with a small opening that a rat could fit through. They can contain multiple traps, so they still work effectively to decrease the infestation, but they prevent children and pets from gaining access. They're a successful way of dealing with an infestation while keeping your home safe. 

Live-Animal Traps

If you're looking for a more humane option and don't wish to harm the rodents infesting your space, live animal traps might be preferred. These traps work in multiple ways, but they all achieve the same end: trapping the animal in a space without killing or harming it.


This category encompasses a wide range of poisons that can be used to kill rats on a larger scale than other solutions. However, it's vital that you're careful when employing these. Poisons may be ingested by pets or other animals, causing unintended death. Additionally, rats may die in hard-to-reach locations, meaning their body can't be retrieved. When used properly, however, poisons can provide a swift and effective solution. 

Peppermint Oil

Last on our list is a more unconventional option, but a harmless and helpful one. Rats are known to dislike the smell of peppermint oil. By dousing some cotton balls in the oil and leaving these around areas where you suspect rats have gathered, you could successfully drive them from your space without having to use traps or poisons at all. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Are Rats Afraid of Cats?

A better word to use may be cautious rather than afraid. Rats are perfectly capable of fighting back, especially if they're larger than average, but the odour of a cat will deter rats from free-roaming.

Looking for Rodent Control? Shop Dalton Engineering!

Rat infestations are stressful, but they can be easily managed with the right products. Dalton Engineering provides the perfect solutions to all of your rat-related problems. Don't believe us? Browse our full collection of rodent control solutions today and see for yourself why we're the favourite vendor for so many!