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In the Hunger Games , when Cato was overpowered by the mutts, it took hours before Katniss shot him. However, if she didn't do that, then will the mutts eventually kill him or spare him?

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  • Not necessarily opinion based; canon may reveal what the mutts would do in a similar situation.
    – SQB
    Aug 21 '16 at 6:21
  • Yeah, I've changed my mind. It may not be a great question, but it's not opinion-based at all: the narrative pretty clearly implies that if Katniss had not shot him, the muttants would have torn him apart.
    – Adamant
    Aug 21 '16 at 6:58
  • As in would they lose interest if he stopped responding - fell into a coma or something?
    – user68762
    Aug 24 '16 at 21:13
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Probably not directly, but he would eventually die of his wounds.

After spending an entire night on top of the cornucopia while Cato is being mauled by the mutts, we see this exchange:

"Why don't they just kill him?" I ask Peeta.

"You know why," he says, and pulls me closer to him.

Hunger Games, p. 339

Clearly, the gamemakers are trying to draw this out as long as possible, probably hoping to get Katniss to kill both Cato and Peeta. However, they will also not send in medical help except to the Victor, so while the Mutts will definitely not go in for the kill and finish him, Cato would eventually die, probably as a direct result of wounds from the Mutts.

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Yes, Cato was already dying from the attack.

The mutt attack itself was likely fatal, though it would have been a slow and painful death - the attack began before nightfall and Katniss shot him at dawn the next morning. That night, Katniss already thought that Cato was dying.

“There will never be anything but cold and fear and the agonized sounds of the boy dying in the horn.”
- The Hunger Games (Chapter 26)

When she does eventually decide to shoot him after hours of him wailing, she described him as a raw hunk of meat.

“It takes a few moments to find Cato in the dim light, in the blood. Then the raw hunk of meat that used to be my enemy makes a sound, and I know where his mouth is. And I think the word he’s trying to say is please.”
- The Hunger Games (Chapter 26)

By then, he’d been severely mauled and had lost a lot of blood. If Katniss didn’t shoot him, he would still die, just more slowly.

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