A few decades ago, it wasn’t uncommon to view our feline friend as the resident mouser. Historically, cats (as well as dogs) have played a critical role in reducing rodents and other opportunistic animals that get into our food and living spaces. To a certain extent, this idea of the barn cat is still alive and well in many rural (and urban) environments.
Unfortunately, while cats seem to step up to this job with great enthusiasm, there are certain risks involved when it comes to pets and mice. Rodents, like other animals that have readily adapted to humans, carry parasites and diseases that can be spread among pets and people alike.
Let’s take a closer look at why these formidable foes should not become the sole responsibility of your furry little hunter.
Who Stole My Cheese? Rodents in Urban Environments
The word rat doesn’t conjure up many positive images, even though they are intelligent, persevering, and curious animals that can also make great pets. Because they are so prolific, rats and mice are adept at spreading disease. They also play host and prey to many species, including parasites.
The most common rodents among us include:
- Norway rats (Rattus norvegicus)
- House mice (Mus musculus)
- Black rats (R. rattus)
Rodents carry pathogens that are zoonotic, meaning they can jump from one species to another. These diseases include:
- Rocky Mountain spotted fever
- Lyme disease
- Bacteria such as e. coli and salmonella
Another concern is that viruses and bacteria carried by rodents can develop into stronger strains in urban areas where they are exposed to human waste (sewage systems).
Decreasing the Risks Associated With Pets and Mice
Obviously, we must learn to live with all species, including those we don’t necessarily enjoy, like rodents and cockroaches. At a minimum, we should understand how to mitigate potentially negative outcomes through awareness, education, and action.
If you suspect there are mice in or around your home, consider the following tips to protect you and your pet:
- Ensure your pet is current on all recommended vaccines and parasite control.
- Make your environment less hospitable to rodents by trimming shrubs, removing weeds, and keeping the garage and attic sealed and clutter-free.
- Prevent your pet from coming into contact with wildlife.
- If you have an infestation, call a wildlife or pest control specialist for options that are pet friendly and safe, as well as humane.
- If you live in an apartment, keep tabs on any rodent problems in the building by contacting your management company.
Please contact our team to learn more about how to minimize the risks associated with pets and mice.