Mindful Monday–Why Cats Take Things

LilySockI finally got it! A picture of Lily bringing me a sock. Does she do this because she knows I wear these cozy sock in the morning? Is it my scent on the sock that attracts her? Is it pure hunting instinct—my sock is her prey? Is she showing off her hunting prowess? Or does she simply want to play? These are some of the theories as to why cats carry things in their mouth and why they bring them to their people, usually with a loud meow.

While Lily is the first cat I’ve known to carry things in her mouth, a quick search around the Internet shows that this is not unusual behavior, especially for an indoor cat. I found many stories of cats who take things or who pick up certain things and carry them in their mouth—pony tail holders, twisty ties, small make-up brushes, dirty clothes, socks, their own stuffed toys… One cat digs toilet paper rolls out of the trash, another grabs paper when it comes out of the printer. One cat even drags shoes around at night and lines them up leading to the bedroom.

Now this is a puzzle too—where cats leave their treasures. I read about a cat who takes lilytoyboxjewelry and deposits it in his litter box. Sometimes I find Lily’s toys in her water bowl or next to her food dish—as if she’s washing her food, drowning her toys, or feeding her babies… But most often, she brings me her toys. At night, they are lined up all around the bedroom door.

I read about a couple of cats who have favorite items—a sock or a particular toy—that they always put in a corner of the bathroom at night—as if they’re protecting their treasure or are they hiding their prey?

LilyToysMost believe this is hunting related—the cat is showing off her hunting skills. It’s pure instinct. In nearly every case I read about, the cat does as Lily does—they meow as they carry the item in their mouth. Many cat people do as I do and praise the cat for bringing them a “gift” of a toy or an item of clothing. And I do believe that if these cats were allowed to roam the neighborhood, their cute habit might accelerate into something quite illegal. The “gifts” they bring or the prey they “kill” might become items from your neighbors—dog toys, flip-flops, laundry, children’s toys, etc.

In my Klepto Cat Mysteries, Savannah tells of her cat, Rags’s activity when he was an inside/outside kitty. He’d bring home all kinds of things he’d find in backyards. On weekends, she’d load them all in a wagon and walk through the neighborhood trying to find the rightful owners. Of course, Rags still takes things and finds things and hides things—that’s part of the stories I tell in these cozy mysteries. http://www.matilijapress.com/Klepto-Cat-Mysteries


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1 Response to Mindful Monday–Why Cats Take Things

  1. Bernadette says:

    Rags’s habit has helped him solve a great many mysteries too! What talent combined with innate skills.

    My Sophie brought me anything small, soft and portable all her life with me…even when I wasn’t home. Everything was placed around the door so I could see it through the glass as I came home. It could sometimes be embarrassing if I hadn’t put her “things” away and certain garments seemed to be strewn around the floor.

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