Dear Green Gato #12 – Shoe Fetish

sandals. shoes on white backgroundDear Green Gato,

My cat, Ollie, seems to have a shoe fetish. Every time that I come home and take my shoes off after a long day, Ollie comes a-running. He immediately plops his big orange body directly on my shoes, preferably the ones that I wore that day. He also fancies my house slippers and can’t get enough of my sandals. Whenever guests come over, he rolls around with the shoes like he’s at a party with old friends. He will rub his face on the shoes and sniff them all over.

Why does Ollie love shoes so much? Does he have a shoe fetish, or is it something else?

-Katie D.

Dear Katie,

Well that depends; does Ollie prefer stilettos or a kitten heel? Just kidding. Your cat’s silly behavior is actually more common than you’d expect. Many cat owners report that their furry companions seem to have a passion for shoe fashion. There are a variety of reasons as to why your cat loves shoes so much.

One of the main reasons that Ollie indulges in your just-worn shoes is because they’ve got all kinds of smells on them. Since Ollie is an indoor cat, he misses out on tons of scents that the outside world boasts. Did you know that a cat’s sense of smell is better than most dogs? When you walk around all day in your shoes, you collect all kinds of unfamiliar particles that each have unique smells. These smells tell your cat a story of what you’ve been doing, where you’ve been going, and what other animals you’ve met along the way. In a sad, shoe-sniffing way, your cat is living vicariously through your feet.

Another reason why cats love shoes is that they contain a strong scent of the person that was wearing them. Cats are territorial creatures, and one of the main ways that they communicate is through scent. When your cat smells some stinky shoes, they may sniff and rub all over them. They are doing this to get to know the person that was wearing the shoes, as well as “mark” the person as their territory. Smelling your scent all over a shoe translates in cat language to “these shoes represent this person.” Cats have scent glands on their face that expel pheromones undetectable to the human nose, but very obvious to other cats. When Ollie rubs his face on your or a friend’s shoe, he is saying “mine!”

If you notice your cat lounging on your shoes, they may be exhibiting behavior similar to why cats love boxes so much. Cats love to be secure and safe, and they don’t like to feel exposed. If you’ve got a pretty empty room with not many perches or hiding places for your cat, they may lay on top of a pair of shoes in the middle of the room as a means of security. Cats love boxes because they feel safe and secure, and just laying on a pair of shoes can provide them with a tactile means of support.

The scents that you bring back on your shoes can be exhilarating for your kitty, so feel free to let little Ollie indulge in his shoe passion. Unless he seems to be trying to destroy the shoes, there is no reason to have him stop the face-rubbing and sniffing. If you or your guests don’t want him on your/their shoes for whatever reason, you may want to leave them in a room that your cat can’t enter. Thanks for writing in, and enjoy your kitty’s love of shoes!

-GG

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