My orange tabby is a happy and friendly indoor (ONLY - THIS IS IMPORTANT AS SHE NEVER GETS A CHANCE TO HUNT ANYTHING - bugs, birds, or anything else) middle-aged female. I have a glass slider in my kitchen that leads to a deck. I had put up an acrylic see-through bird feeder on the outside of the glass with the included suction cups. Eventually the birds started showing up and cat was very interested. She would stalk and hunt as the birds came and went. She would jump up to try and attack (feeder was about 5 foot above the deck) -- obviously never succeeding at the catch but often making a huge racket as she careened through the vertical blinds.

I don't speak cat, so it's hard to tell but it almost seemed like she would be stressed during/after these "hunts".

Is this stressful to her? To be able to see all these critters; to stalk and jump at them - coming within the thickness of double-pane glass from success to no avail time and time again? She has plenty of toys inside - scratch pads, fake mice, balls, towers. It really seemed to be a big interest while it was up, but I am concerned that the fun/excitement of the hunt might be outweighed by never making the catch.

Am I just anthropomorphizing this or is there any evidence that this might actually be harmful?


Another fact is that I adopted her when she was at or around 2 years old. Her history prior was/is unknown so it is possible that she survived by hunting for most of the beginning of her life. I suppose it is possible that having this memory could be cause for stress if were able to hunt/watch but never get a kill.

  • The question that is marked a duplicate of states that the cat is 'mainly indoor'. It also points out that it has a bell on its collar so prey knows it is coming so it cannot have the opportunity to hunt (much like the window preventing this cat from getting to the prey). I'm struggling to see which part of this question is different when replacing 'stressful' for 'harmful' seems to make them the same. I think I must have missed the difference, can you elaborate? :)
    – Henders
    Commented Nov 12, 2018 at 14:23
  • The bottom line is that the other questions' cat CAN hunt and kill because it can get outside. It can hunt -- even if nothing else -- bugs that can't hear the bell. My cat can NEVER get a kill because it can't get outside. That is the main point of difference - the other cat can kill or at least have the opportunity to get its mouth on things whereas my cat can not. Mainly, the question is whether it is stressful/harmful if my cat can never get any kill. Thanks.
    – stormdrain
    Commented Nov 12, 2018 at 14:35
  • @Henders sorry but I also forgot to mention (added to question now), that I don't know how she lived her prior life in that I adopted her when she was already at least 2 so she may have survived by hunting previously. That complicates whether this current situation may be stressful or not I imagine.
    – stormdrain
    Commented Nov 12, 2018 at 14:40
  • 1
    @stormdrain the important part for cats is not the killing but the hunting and catching,toys can and is used as a substitute for hunting prey.it is a misconseption that cats play they do hunt toys and use this to satisfy their need for hunting.adult cats have no trouble adjusting to living indoor only if they can play/hunt toys and use their energy. Commented Nov 12, 2018 at 15:26

1 Answer 1


My female kitten does a similar thing - we have netting over the balcony, so she watches birds but can't catch them. It doesn't seem to cause her any stress, and I think she views it as more of a game. I'm not a vet, but I believe it's similar to toys - they run after them, and sometimes catch them, but sometimes don't. I don't think it's stressful for cats, more just interesting to watch!

  • Thanks for the reply. A kitten is a bit different though because it may have never experienced the hunt/kill. It may never now the feeling.
    – stormdrain
    Commented Nov 12, 2018 at 14:36
  • I think she may be hyper but not necessarily stressed because she must (if she hunted in the past) have failed many times before and continued on her life. If you really want to make sure wether it's stress or just hyper and happy this may sound unnice but poke her in the middle of the process and see how she reacts. with a toy or finger. Not hard though. If she gets more hyper and swats at you then ignores you it may be causing her stress but if she starts playing with the toy (make it her favorite one ) obviously she's just happy. And tell me about your outcome :) Commented Nov 12, 2018 at 15:30
  • also does she play regularly everyday to waste her energy? Commented Nov 12, 2018 at 15:31
  • Yeah she tears around up and down the stairs regularly. I also have a ton of toys and a cat tower; none of which really catch her fancy. That's a great idea! I have tried poking her in the past in one of these episodes and she didn't seem to lose interest in the birds. I will try again but with a toy this time and see if she moves focus. Please add your 2nd comment as an answer to this question and I will accept. Thank you!!
    – stormdrain
    Commented Nov 12, 2018 at 17:07

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.