Do Cats Eat Chipmunks? (The Gruesome Truth)

Do Cats Eat Chipmunks

It’s an uncomfortable truth for some cat owners, but felines are natural hunters, and they have perfected their craft over thousands of years.

If you are concerned about the wildlife in your neighborhood, there are things you can do to lessen the chance your cat will terrorize them. 

But, that is not to say that your cat won’t still snag the occasional wild meal when given the chance.

Cats have been known to hunt and kill a wide variety of garden creatures such as moles, voles, birds, mice, and even possums. But how about other animals like chipmunks? 

In this post, I investigate and find out if cats eat chipmunks, and what that means for you and your cat and the creatures in your garden and surrounding areas.

Will a Cat Kill a Chipmunk?

If you have ever spent time watching your cat in the garden, then you will know that cats will stalk and attempt to catch just about anything that moves.

Unfortunately for chipmunks, cats are quite capable of catching them – which they do. 

The methods that cats use can seem somewhat cruel, but there is a deliberate hunting practice that cats follow, especially when trying to catch chipmunk.

You might notice that your cat won’t simply end an attack as quickly as possible. 

Instead, you might observe behavior that looks like the cat is toying with their prey, but there is a very good reason for this.

Your cat knows that the animals that they hunt can also hurt them so that they can escape, so your cat simply ‘runs down the clock’ by keeping the hunted creature busy.

Sometimes allowing it to run away for a fair distance before it is caught again. 

Cats will exhaust their prey before finally delivering a fatal bite. This limits your cat’s exposure to danger, and allows them to bring you a trophy once they are done with it if they are not particularly hungry.

Related A good comfortable collar with a bell could spare some wildlife!

Can a Cat Eat Chipmunks?

Yes, your cat can eat chipmunks, but cats are quite selective about what they eat.

In the wild, you will find that cats eat a lot of their prey. Although a house cat, while similar, won’t make as much use of their prey once caught. 

Cats are more likely to eat strange parts of a chipmunk, such as the head, and the chewy bits like appendages and body parts with tendons and muscles.

Cats are more prone to leave the innards of their prey uneaten, which is understandable, however, they may occasionally eat some of the internal organs of the chipmunk.

So yes, while cats can eat chipmunks, they are not necessarily sought out intentionally.

Rodents are sometimes on the menu for house cats, but the natural instinct to devour their prey after successfully catching it is not as intense if your kitty is well fed and played with often.

Can Cats Get Sick from Chipmunks?

Unfortunately, the answer is yes.

Any wild animals like rodents, birds, and reptiles all pose certain levels of danger to your cat. In the specific case of chipmunks, you can expect parasites such as worms, toxoplasmosis, and even plague!

Your cat could also get sick if bitten by a carrier chipmunk that is infected with diseases like rabies, which is a very serious infection.

Luckily these cases aren’t reported often enough for chipmunks to be on some kind of watch list, but you should at least be aware of the infectious disease that chipmunks, (and rodents in general), carry with them.

What Do You Do if Your Cat Catches a Chipmunk?

If you think that the chipmunk is not too badly injured, then you should be able to release the chipmunk back into the garden and let it recover.

As I explained earlier, sometimes your cat might appear to be playing with their prey, but this is usually part of their hunting strategy.

This strategy exhausts the creature so that it can’t get away, and it can’t deliver a counterattack before your cat can end the fun. 

At this point, you have the option of trying to intervene, but if your cat has already started to hurt or injure the chipmunk then you might need to leave them be as the cat will eventually be done with it.

Do Cats Keep Chipmunks Away?

If the chipmunk population in your garden is quite large then you will probably find that they are becoming a nuisance. 

Your cat will be a great chipmunk deterrent if they are good at catching them, which also means that your cat will help to keep the population under control, as harsh as it sounds. 

Chipmunks are quite cautious about cats, and if your cat is a frequent visitor outside then you might find that the chipmunks will take up residence somewhere away from your cat.

Unless the rodent is infected with Toxoplasma gondii, which can lead rodents to seek out cats.

This allows the rodent to be devoured so that the cat becomes infected, allowing the parasite to spread, and the cycle can continue.

Related Guinea pigs are also prey for cats as I explain in this post.

In Summary

Chipmunks look very cute and cuddly, but they can be quite a nuisance to your garden if there are too many of them.

Unfortunately, cats are still quite predatory when it comes to the wildlife in your garden, so chipmunks are fair game.

You can try to limit your cat’s exposure to hunting rodents like this by playing with your cat with cat toys, and by making sure that the food bowl always has a bit of food in it to help suppress the urge to catch prey in the garden.

It is important to remember that while we may not agree with how our cats hunt and catch their prey, it is completely natural.

It seems wasteful as the animals that are caught are not always eaten, so try to get in more play time with your cat to help them shed some of their excess hunter energy.

This can help your cat to think less about hunting, and more about burning up some of that energy and the desire to chase prey while no one gets hurt!


Image credits – Photo by Ryan Stone on Unsplash

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