When you think of a pet bringing you toys to play with, you probably picture the wagging tail and doleful eyes of your dog. But many people don’t realize that cats often bring their owners their toys too.
Not only will cats sometimes carry their favorite toys around the house and cuddle with them for a nap, but they’ll also drop them in your lap or leave them in your shoes. They do this to show affection, request playtime, and even show off their hunting skills.
These aren’t the only reasons that your cat brings you their toys, though, so here’s a list of a few of the most common explanations.
The 8 Reasons Why Cats Bring You Their Toys
1. Expressing Affection
With a reputation for being aloof to uphold, cats can’t always make it obvious how much they adore their human family members. Instead, they’ll find subtle ways to show their affection. While they know exactly what they mean to say, their meaning isn’t always the most understandable to us.
Dropping their favorite toy in your lap shows their trust in you, their faith that you’ll keep them safe, and their gratefulness that you care so much. In essence, it’s a gift that they give you to show how much they love you.
2. Being Broken
All toys break eventually, and there comes a point when the seams of your cat’s stuffed mouse just can’t take the strain anymore or the catnip scent has worn off. Cats can be particular about their possessions, and if something suddenly changes about their favorite toy, they’ll often turn to you for assistance.
It might be difficult to see why your cat has brought you their toy, but by paying attention, you’ll likely find the problem. Your cat might have brought it to you because the stuffing’s falling out or the battery making it light up is no longer working. Perhaps it needs replacing altogether.
3. Hunting Trophies
Hunting is hard work, even for natural hunters like your cat. It’s a great deal of sitting around and waiting for the opportune moment to strike. Even if your cat only hunts the old jingle ball that they’ve had for years, it takes time, effort, and determination to subdue the object. Once they’ve caught it, it’s only natural for them to want to prove their skills.
Human hunters will hang taxidermized deer heads on the wall to show off their hunting skills. Your cat presenting you with their subdued toy is a similar show of their prowess as a hunter.
Cats play with you and other cats as a way to develop their hunting skills. They’ll stalk their toys and practice their pouncing. While they can often amuse themselves given the right entertainment, sometimes it’s much more fun to play with a friend. If they don’t have a fellow cat to play with, the duty as playtime partner falls on you. They’ll make their request by giving you one of their toys.
Playing with your cat benefits both of you. It encourages your house cat to move around and helps strengthen the bond between you. Your cat’s antics as you play are also amusing and a great way to unwind.
Spare a few minutes from errands or chores to play a quick game with your cat. They’ll be happy, and you’ll be able to get back to your duties with a fresh, relaxed mindset.
5. Providing Food
You do so much for your cat, and they know it. It might seem like sometimes, they only like you because you feed them, but the bond between a cat and their human often goes deeper. Giving you their toys is a way for them to return the favor and express their gratitude for your care.
While their toys aren’t edible — and your cat knows it — the gesture of offering you their “prey” is a symbolic way of presenting you with a meal.
6. Seeking Praise
We’ve all at some point doubted a skill that we have. Whether it’s work-related or for a hobby, sometimes we just need someone to say, “Good job” or “Awesome!” to know that we’re on the right path to success. Praise can work wonders to boost our confidence and inspire us to continue.
Similarly, your cat may present you with their catch to show off. When they drop a toy at your feet or in your shoe, they’re essentially saying, “Look what I did!” Even if you’re busy at the time, you should remember to spare a few moments to praise them for their hard work. Maybe reward them with their favorite treat — provided that they don’t try to sneak too many from you.
7. Sharing Knowledge
In the wild, mother cats will teach their young how to hunt by offering them weak or injured prey for them to deliver the final strike. Your kitten learns how to distinguish what their prey looks and smells like and how to kill it. Over time, they progress to stalking their prey themselves, until they don’t need their mother’s help at all.
Your cat’s jingle ball might not be a living mouse, but it’s still a suitable subject for practicing your hunting skills. Bringing you their ball could be your cat’s way of teaching you how to hunt.
Cats, especially if they’re housebound, rely on humans for their food, shelter, and social needs. It can take a while to build up a bond filled with trust, and you can help by developing a routine that your cat can rely on.
By giving you their favorite toy, your cat is entrusting its safety to you. When they leave their catnip mouse in your shoe or laundry or drop it on your lap, they’re not trying to be a nuisance. Instead, they’re letting you take care of their favorite possession until the next time that they want to play.
If you have other pets or children in the house, it could be your cat’s way of keeping their favorite toy to themselves.
Is It Normal for Cats to Bring You Toys?
Although retrieval is often considered a canine personality trait, especially for breeds like the Labrador, it’s not abnormal for cats to display the behavior too. They might be more likely to turn up their nose when you ask them to grab something for you, but they will give you their toys when the urge takes hold of them.
For cat lovers who aren’t familiar with the behavior, it can seem strange. However, it’s completely normal. Not all cats will bring you their toys, but when they do, shower them with praise and take a break from work for a quick game. You’ll strengthen your bond and encourage your cat’s hunting skills to develop properly.
Why Do Mother Cats Give You Their Kittens?
If you breed cats, you might experience the mother bringing you her kittens if your bond is strong enough. This is similar to their habit of bringing you toys, and considering that a mother cat’s instincts are to protect her young, it’s also an honor. By bringing you her kittens, your cat is telling you that she trusts you to take care of her and her defenseless litter.
How to Stop Outdoor Cats Bringing You Their Prey
Unfortunately, cats don’t see a difference between bringing you their toys versus the mouse that they caught during their outdoor adventure. There’s no real way of preventing your outdoor cat from bringing their prey home. It’s just something that cats do. They hunt and then give you their prey to show affection.
While we might wish that they’d show gratitude another way, sometimes our cats just want to take care of us too. Or maybe they’re just showing off their hunting prowess. Either way, it can be a challenge to stop your cat from bringing you unpleasant gifts.
First, don’t yell if your cat brings home something undesirable. You’ll only succeed in scaring your cat and won’t teach them anything. You might also damage the trust that your cat has in you.
The easiest method is to stop your cat from going outdoors altogether. It can take a few weeks for your cat to stop asking to go outside, but house cats are generally longer lived and won’t bring you their prey — unless you count the stuffed, catnip mouse that they love to play with.
By keeping your cat indoors, you stop them from interfering with local wildlife and reduce the chances of them getting lost. You’ll also keep them away from threats like cars and other predators.
Cats know how to get your attention. Bringing you their toys might be commonly considered a dog-like behavior, but cats are just as likely to drop a ball into your lap. They’ll do this to show their gratitude to you for taking care of them or to request attention in the form of a quick game.
They might even be teaching you how to hunt, so remember to reward them and take their lesson to heart.
Featured Image Credit: Darkmoon_Art, Pixabay
- The 8 Reasons Why Cats Bring You Their Toys