Most cats will happily gobble down a bowl of fishy cat food, but trying to get a cat to take a proper bath without getting ripped to shreds is pretty much an impossible challenge, as anyone who’s ever attempted this will agree. So if cats are so reluctant to get wet, how did they ever learn that they liked fish?
The domestic cat and its closest feline relatives are natural born hunters. Their bodies are developed to help them hunt on the ground and in wooded areas, mostly catching birds and small mammals. Recent studies into feline hunting habits have found that the typical moggy’s prey is made up of 60-70% small mammals and 20-30% birds… but it’s a lot more unusual to wake up to a fish flopping around on your kitchen floor!
The odd one out
There’s always one exception to the rule, and in this case it’s the appropriately-named fishing cat. This endangered species of cat also hunts birds and small mammals, but it is particularly good at catching fish. It has partly webbed paws for fishing its prey out of the water, and can even swim underwater.
Check out the fishing cat in action:
Even though domestic cats aren’t naturally built to catch fish, they now eat around 2.48 million tonnes of canned fish every year. That’s more than many species of seal! This love of fish might seem strange at first, but it makes sense when you think about how lazy cats can be. The story goes that the Ancient Egyptians saw cats hunting in the wild and realised that they’d make excellent pest control experts, so they tempted them into their homes with pieces of raw fish. Just like cats today, these ancient felines were easily won over by the promise of a zero-effort meal and the tradition of kitty domesticity began.
Passing the ‘nose’ test
Cats know a good thing when they see it. Or rather, when they smell it. Fish is very rich in protein, so it really appeals to your cat’s keen sense of smell, which is especially good at tracking down delicious and nutritious food (as well as sniffing out any opportunity to cause a satisfying amount of trouble!). So it’s no wonder this feline taste for fish wasn’t just an Ancient Egyptian fad.
For modern cats that are crazy about fish, it’s easy to find ways to indulge their cravings, from fish dinners to fish-flavoured snacks. And if your cat has a touch of the fishing cat in its genes, why not treat it to a fun fish-shaped cat toy or the ever-popular Kitty Lake fishing toy? After all, surely all cats want to channel their cooler, wilder relatives every now and then, however much they still want us to provide them with no-fuss meals at the end of the day.