Why Does My Cat Kill Lizards?

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Many cat owners have witnessed their feline friends hunting and killing lizards. This behavior can be puzzling and even alarming, especially if you’re a reptile lover. However, it’s essential to understand that this is an instinct for cats, and there are several reasons why they engage in this behavior.

Cats are natural predators, and hunting is an innate behavior inherited from their wild ancestors. Even if your cat has never been outside, they have a strong drive to hunt and kill prey. Lizards are small and fast-moving, making them an ideal target for a cat’s hunting instincts. Additionally, the movement and sound of a lizard can trigger a cat’s natural prey drive.

While some cats may hunt lizards for food, most domestic cats do not need to hunt for survival. Instead, they may engage in this behavior as a form of play or to satisfy their instincts. It’s important to remember that this behavior does not reflect your cat’s love for you or their level of care.

Understanding why your cat engages in this behavior can help you provide appropriate outlets for their hunting instincts and keep them happy and healthy.


Instinctual Behavior


Cats are natural predators, and their instinctual behavior is to hunt and kill prey. This behavior is deeply ingrained in their DNA, and they will often display it even when they are well-fed and have no need to hunt for food. Hunting is a form of exercise and mental stimulation for cats and an essential part of their overall health and well-being.

When a cat sees a lizard, their predatory instincts kick in, and it will often chase and capture it. Even if the cat has no intention of eating the lizard, it may still kill it for the thrill of the hunt.

It’s important to remember that cats are not acting out of malice when they kill lizards. They are simply following their instincts, and it is up to their owners to provide them with appropriate outlets for their hunting behavior.


Play and Practice


Cats are natural hunters, and they love to play. Therefore, playtime is essential for cats, as it helps them release their energy and satisfy their hunting instincts. When cats play, they practice their hunting skills, which include stalking, pouncing, and catching prey.

Playing with your cat can help them improve their hunting abilities and keep them mentally and physically stimulated.

One way to encourage your cat to play is to provide them with toys that mimic prey. Like lizards or other small animals, toys that move can appeal to cats. You can also use interactive toys like laser pointers to engage your cat in playtime.

It’s important to remember that playtime should be supervised, especially if your cat tends to hunt and kill lizards. You don’t want your cat to ingest a toy or harm themselves while playing accidentally. So always choose safe toys for your cat and monitor their playtime to ensure their safety.

Another way to help your cat practice their hunting skills is to provide them with opportunities to hunt and catch natural prey. This can be done by creating a safe outdoor space for your cat to explore or setting up an indoor hunting area. For example, hiding treats or toys can create an indoor hunting area around your home for your cat to find and catch.

You can help satisfy their instincts and keep them mentally and physically stimulated by providing your cat opportunities to play and practice their hunting skills.


Hunting for Food


Cats are natural hunters and are known to be skilled at catching prey. Hunting is an instinctive behavior that is deeply ingrained in their DNA. Even domesticated cats that have never been outside are known to display hunting behavior, such as pouncing on toys or chasing laser pointers.

When it comes to lizards, cats may see them as potential prey. This is because lizards are small and quick, making them a challenging cat target. However, this challenge can make hunting lizards even more appealing for cats, as it satisfies their natural hunting instincts.

While cats are known to be carnivores, they do not necessarily need to hunt for food. Domesticated cats are typically fed a commercial cat food diet, which contains all the necessary nutrients for their health. However, hunting behavior is not just about getting food but also about fulfilling their instincts.

It is important to note that while cats may hunt lizards, it is not a necessary part of their diet. Many lizards can harm cats if ingested, as they may carry diseases or parasites. Therefore, keeping cats away from lizards and other small animals is essential to prevent potential harm.


Protecting Their Territory


Cats are natural predators and hunters. They have an instinctual drive to hunt and catch prey, including lizards. However, there is another reason why cats kill lizards, and that is to protect their territory.

Cats are territorial animals, marking their territory by leaving their scent on objects and surfaces. So when they see a lizard in their territory, they see it as a potential threat to their territory and will try to eliminate it. This is especially true for outdoor cats with a more extensive territory to protect.

Another reason why cats kill lizards is to establish dominance. Cats are known to be independent animals, but they still have a hierarchy within their social groups. Therefore, killing a lizard allows a cat to dominate its territory and other cats.

It’s important to note that not all cats will kill lizards. Some cats may not have the hunting instinct, while others may have been trained not to hunt by their owners. However, for those cats who hunt and kill lizards, it’s a natural behavior that is difficult to eliminate.


Preventing Lizard Hunting


While it may be natural for cats to hunt lizards, it can be dangerous for both the cat and the lizard. Here are some tips for preventing your cat from hunting lizards:

  • Keep your cat indoors. This is the most effective way to prevent your cat from hunting lizards and other wildlife.
  • Provide your cat with plenty of toys and playtime. A well-exercised cat is less likely to hunt lizards out of boredom.
  • Use deterrents. Several products on the market can help deter cats from hunting lizards, such as motion-activated sprays or ultrasonic devices.
  • Make sure your yard is lizard-proof. This can include adding fencing or barriers to prevent lizards from entering your yard and removing any potential hiding places for lizards.

Taking these steps can help protect your cat and the local lizard population.




While it may seem alarming to see your cat kill lizards, it is natural for felines. Cats are instinctual hunters, and their prey drive is strong. Lizards are small, fast-moving creatures that trigger a cat’s predatory instincts.

However, it is essential to note that cats don’t need to kill while it is natural for them to hunt. Providing your cat with interactive toys and playtime can help satisfy its hunting instincts without harming wildlife. Additionally, keeping your cat indoors can help protect local lizard populations and prevent your cat from contracting diseases or getting injured outside.

If you do allow your cat to go outside, it is crucial to supervise them and discourage hunting behavior if possible. You can also provide your cat with a safe outdoor enclosure to enjoy the sights and sounds of nature without being able to harm wildlife.

In conclusion, while it may be unsettling to witness your cat hunting and killing lizards, it is essential to remember that this behavior is natural. By providing your cat with appropriate outlets for their hunting instincts and taking steps to protect local wildlife, you can help ensure a harmonious coexistence between your feline friend and the natural world.

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