Dear Green Gato #10 – Kitty Gifts

Black cat carries a caught bird

Dear Green Gato,

I have a silly behavior that I wanted to ask you about. My cat, Felicia, has an obsession with bringing me my socks. Night or day, if I come home and take off my socks, Felicia comes a-running and a-yowling with a balled up sock in her mouth. Occasionally, she does this with other objects, like her favorite toy mice. I don’t know if she is treating these objects like they’re her babies or if she’s bringing them to me like they’re a present. Whenever she is in the other room and I hear a particular meow, I know that she’s headed my way with a weird object in her mouth. Why does Felicia bring me my socks?

Thanks!

-Robert P.

Dear Robert,

Your cat, Felicia, sounds absolutely hilarious. You’ve certainly got some good questions and assumptions going on there as to why she obsessively brings you socks and mouse toys. Cats are less domesticated than most people think, and along with this fact comes some silly behaviors. When your cat brings you your socks, a toy mouse, or anything else similar, she is bestowing upon you what she thinks is a great gift. You could take it as a compliment, since she’s not bringing them to just anyone! You could even say that Felicia loves you because the behavior that she is demonstrating points to the idea that she cares about you.

There are a few theories behind why your cat is bringing you a treat. One popular theory is that your cat sees you as a helpless bag of bones and can’t help but pitch in. As a natural hunter, your cat is designed to hunt and bring home the bacon, earning their place in the house. For indoor/outdoor cats, this typically manifests as the presentation of real critters to the back porch, like mice and crickets. However, for the less instinctual indoor cat, this shows up as something much more pathetic and silly, like a sock or a stuffed animal. Other animal behaviorists believe that they are simply bringing these treats for themselves to enjoy later, which might explain why your cat brings you your own socks.

The sock fixation is similar to the age-old love story between cats and feet/shoes. Cats rely on their sense of smell for assessing their surroundings, and they use pheromones to sense territory and other animals. Cats are famous for being shoe fetishists, especially when it comes to their owner’s smelly shoes. They just can’t get enough of you. This, along with the second theory of gift-giving, could explain why your cat carries your socks around the house. They may be excited to be bringing you something of value, and also want to put it somewhere safe to save for later.

Another fun fact in regards to gift-bringing and cats is that it is more common for female cats to bring gifts than male cats. Their predatory nature mixed with maternal instinct provides for a gift-wielding kitty. When cats are just little kittens, their mothers teach them how to hunt and prey, and they are naturally inclined to bring critters back to their homestead for the whole posse. This is how mama-cats teach their young how to hunt. There’s a chance that Felicia is also trying to care for you and teach you a lesson on hunting when she brings you a dumb old sock.

Regardless of her intentions, Felicia’s behavior is probably pretty comical and cute and is by no means any reason to be alarmed. Let your cat beam with pride the next time she brings you a “gift”, and just be thankful that it isn’t a real dead mouse. If you want to influence your cat to continue to bring you gifts, be sure to reward her with treats the next time that it happens.

-GG

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