Do cats eat squirrels? (and hunt them?)

The short answer is yes, cats do eat squirrels. These feline animals favor rodents as their hunting game more than any other animal. With squirrels belonging to the rodents’ family, they are famous for being a cat’s victim. In the eyes of a cat, squirrels are nothing but a juicy meal and a perfect snack. Once a cat sees a squirrel roaming around, it will immediately start its hunt.

Now, if this is the case? How is life for every squirrel?

How do they survive the dangers that cats bring?

Let’s find out!

Squirrels as prey to cats

Squirrels belong to the family of rodents. Thus, they are prey animals by nature.

These small animals become an easy target for cats because they are always on the move.

Cats are born hunters, and they get attracted so easily by moving animals. Further, cats love to play with their target before eating them.

Squirrels, like any other rodents, have a faster heartbeat compared to other animals.

It means that they get scared easily. A frightened squirrel is likely to freeze than run, so most of these animals end up dead when pursued by a cat.

Despite this, it doesn’t mean that squirrels cannot survive if a cat is nearby. But the area where they live primarily causes the reason why they always become a cat’s target.

Where do squirrels live?

When it comes to their habitat, squirrels and cats don’t differ from each other.

Like cats, squirrels live almost everywhere in the world. The area where they live depends on their type.

Tree squirrels live in wooded areas. It is because they prefer to live in trees, taking these as their home.

Ground squirrels live underground, digging caves and tunnels as their home.

Squirrels can live near houses, both tree and ground squirrels. For this reason, it’s no wonder why cats see them most of the time.

Both house cats and their wild counterparts can attack these tiny rodents. The reason is that both cats have access to squirrels, be it a tree or a ground squirrel.

How do squirrels protect themselves?

Squirrels have no killing tools to protect themselves from cats. Thus, they use several techniques to survive. These are:

Squirrels can make alarm calls

Since they can’t fight back, squirrels make alarm calls if a predator tries to hunt them down.

These calls include not only sound but signs using their tails. Further, each alarm has a specific purpose, and it depends on the kind of predators.

Thus, if a cat hunts them, squirrels offer a specific motion and sound. This alarm isn’t for scaring predators away.

Instead, it lets the predator know that he is aware that he is being a target, warning other squirrels nearby.

This defense mechanism usually works with house cats. The reason is that these cats hunt out of curiosity and playfulness.

Upon perceiving the alarm, the cat will know that they have lost the surprise and will stop the pursuit.

Squirrels blend with the surroundings

Squirrels live most of the time hiding. When they come out, they do it in hiding too, blending with the surroundings.

Most squirrels roam around areas where they can create a camouflage such as trees.

Further, if they notice that someone is hunting them, they will move from one trunk to another. Afterward, squirrels will stay still to confuse their predator.

Most cats work their way of stalking and overseeing their game. If they lose their eyes on a squirrel, it will remain for a while but will eventually lose interest.

Squirrels use their tail

One unique way of protecting themselves is by using their tail.

Squirrels wave their tails to distract predators. Their furry ends can be quite enticing, especially to cats who love to play.

If a cat catches the tail, it will break off to allow the squirrel to escape.

While they can’t grow their tail like a lizard can, they can live without it.

Related – What about ferrets? Check out – Do cats eat ferrets?

Do squirrels protect their young?

Like any other animal, squirrels tend to protect their young.

Mother squirrels can be overprotective of their young. They can be fierce enough to the extent of attacking if she feels like her babies are in danger.

Mother squirrels provide a safe, nesting place for her young. These nests are usually in their burrows, out of reach from any potential predators.

Will cats attack squirrel?

Cats aren’t avid hunters, but they will attack a squirrel if they see one.

Unlike other predators, however, cats attack squirrels out of curiosity and not a necessity.

Cats are suckers when it comes to small moving animals. Thus, a squirrel may be a toy in their eyes, and a potential snack if they successfully catch it.

On the other side, the feral or wild cats will attack a squirrel with killing intent. It is because they consider them not only as an object of a play but more of a food.

Cats or Squirrels: Which is faster?

When it comes to speed, squirrels and cats may have quite a race. Squirrels are famous for being one of the quickest ground animals.

Both squirrels and cats can boast of their speed and agility, making it hard to tell who will win in a chase.

A squirrel can climb trees with ease while a cat can jump quite a height and distance. Even so, cats have the upper hand as soon as they bolt.

An average squirrel speed can range up to 20 mph, while a cat can run up to 30 mph.

If a squirrel is far from its home, it will be a sure win for a cat.

RelatedDo cats eat snails?

How do cats hunt a squirrel?

Being a feline has its perks, as cats are famous for being effective hunters.

Be it a house or wild cat; both have the speed and the strength to hunt down small prey like squirrels.

Even so, what sets them apart from other predators is their method of hunting.

Their game is to stalk their prey once they see it, approaching with refining movements. A stalking cat is almost invisible to any target, as they can be quite a stealth walker.

Once they get near enough, a single pounce is enough to catch a prey off-guard.

If the squirrel gets to escape from the pounce, the cat will pursue it even in trees.

Cats or Squirrels: Who will win?

When it comes to a cat and a squirrel, the match is about catching. The victory comes between a successful catch or escape.

Cats would have no problem catching baby squirrels or the young adult ones. If a cat is used to hunting, they can also grab the adult squirrels.

In general, the usual victims of cats are the young squirrels. It is because the young ones are more prone to danger than adults who know their way around escaping.

Why do cats eat squirrels heads?

Cats eating only the head of their prey is not unusual. If a cat eats only the head of the squirrel, it may mean three things:

The cat isn’t entirely hungry

If the cat has recently fed, it might have caught the squirrel out of instinct rather than hunger.

For cats, the best part of the prey is the head, so they would eat the head and discard the body.

The cat wants to bring an offering

Cats have the behavior of catching prey and then offering them to their owner.

The reason why they do so is that first, they see humans as incapable of hunting. Thus, an offering is their way of teaching us how to hunt.

Second, an offering is their way of playing the role of a provider for their young.

Also, cats simply don’t want to share the best part, so they would rather eat it then share the body.

The cat can’t consume the whole squirrel

A squirrel usually comes in sizes big enough for a cat to eat whole. Thus, a cat would most likely go for the head and leave the body for others to eat.

Is it okay for cats to eat squirrels?

Squirrels usually don’t carry disease and viruses in them to the point of making a cat in danger if they eat one.

Thus, there is nothing to worry about if you see your cat eating a squirrel.

If you think your cat might get infected by eating a squirrel, your best move will be to consult a vet.

Some people think that squirrels carry rabies in them, but that is not entirely true. If ever a squirrel does, which isn’t likely, rabies can only spread through saliva.

Thus, if a cat eats a squirrel, it’s not likely that the cat gets it. Further, if your cat received a rabies vaccine, then your cat will be completely safe.

Do you want to know if cats eat bats or hamsters? Check it out!

What other animals eat squirrels?

For squirrels, the world is a dangerous place filled with many predators who wish to eat them. Aside from cats, squirrels are preys to the following predators:


The most famous hunters of squirrels are the ‘birds of prey,’ such as hawks, owls, and eagles.

Corvids such as crows, ravens, and magpies also eat squirrels, mostly the young. Shrikes and other types of birds can even peck on squirrels.

Other Land Animals

Aside from cats, other land animals can eat squirrels. Within the same area, squirrels are often targets of skunks, weasels, badgers, and minks.

Domestic dogs may also hunt them, but they won’t eat one. Other canids such as foxes, coyotes, and wolves will eat a squirrel as well.

Aside from cats, the feline family members such as bobcats and cougars won’t say no to a squirrel treat.


  • Cats do eat squirrels. These feline animals favor rodents, and squirrels are one of them. Thus, they will hunt a squirrel upon sight.
  • Squirrels, belonging to the family of rodents, are prey by nature. They become easy prey for cats due to their availability.
  • Squirrels can’t fight back against predators. Thus, they have some defense mechanisms to ensure their survival.
  • When it comes to their young, squirrels can be overprotective. Thus, mother squirrels tend to attack if they sense their young are in danger.
  • As hunters, cats will attack a squirrel upon sight.
  • When it comes to speed, squirrels can be fast enough to make it challenging for cats. Even so, the feline animals have the upper hand in this aspect.
  • Cats may eat only the squirrel’s head, and they have their reasons for it.
  • While it may look worrisome for cats to eat squirrels, it is completely normal and safe.
  • Aside from cats, a lot of animals also eat squirrels.
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