A ball of yarn and a cat is a somewhat clichéd image for a reason: Cats the world over find a string of almost any kind irresistible. Even specially made toys are often no match for a plain old piece of string.
You may have wondered why this is. What is it about a piece of string that is so universally appealing to felines? You’ve come to the right place! In this article, we take a look at five common reasons that cats have such a universal affection for string.
1. Hunting instincts
Cats are natural hunters, and stalking prey is an intrinsic part of their DNA. Even though they have been domesticated, these instincts are still highly active. Many of the ways that cats express themselves around your home are replicas of how they once acted in the wild, including hunting string. The movement and appearance of string on the floor mimic the way that prey or a snake would move in the wild, triggering your feline’s hunting instincts.
As much as they love to hunt, cats are also active creatures that love a good play session. A piece of string inching along the ground or a ball of yarn rolling across the floor is begging to be played with, and most cats cannot resist. The string is also stagnant, doesn’t present a threat, and is easy to catch, making it an endless source of entertainment!
Cats love carpets and upholstery because it’s the perfect texture to dig their claws into, and string, especially a big ball of it, has the same appeal. String also has a great texture to chew on because it is easy to latch onto and rip apart, unlike slippery or hard toys. In some ways, this texture may also resemble the prey that your feline would hunt and chew on in the wild.
4. Physical and mental stimulation
Physical and mental stimulation are essential for the health of any feline, and if your cat becomes bored or anxious, they will seek out ways to gain mental stimulation. The movement and texture of string and the rolling balls of yarn are endlessly stimulating and can provide a way for your cat to rid themselves of anxiety and boredom.
5. Similarity to a cat’s tail!
Cats can often be found chasing their own tails, and the reasons are largely the same as them chasing string. Young cats and kittens often chase their own and other cats’ tails, probably to fine-tune their hunting skills. While most cats outgrow this habit, a piece of string’s likeness to a tail may be one of the reasons that they are so attracted to it.
Is string dangerous for cats?
While string can be a fun toy for your cat, they should always be supervised when playing with string. Cats can easily accidentally swallow a piece of string, which could potentially get caught in their throat or stomach. Balls of yarn are also potentially hazardous, as the long string could get wrapped around their bodies and even their neck, potentially causing suffocation.
We highly recommend letting your cats play with string only while under supervision, especially kittens, and make sure they do not have any access to string while you are not around. There are plenty of other safe toys that you can give your cat to play with while you are away — keep the string for special occasions!
The reasons that cats love string are largely instinctual: They see the string as prey, they love to play, and they adore the texture. Almost every cat owner on the planet will attest to a cat’s love of string, and there is almost nothing that a cat loves to play with more! Just make sure to keep a close eye out while your feline is playing with string, and take it away when they are done!
Featured Image: Noam Armonn, Shutterstock