Dear Most Esteemed and Knowledgeable Kitties:
I have a 6 year old female, Harley, whose newest favorite toy is the string from an old hooded sweatshirt. She carries it around, and gets great exercise climbing up and down the furniture (and walls) chasing it while my husband and I are pulling it. Recently, she has started to put the string in her water dish. The dish is clean, the string is clean, but Harley works SO hard at getting this string into the water dish, that in itself is quite comical to watch! Do you know of any reason she would do this? On other past occasions, she would put a different (thankfully, smaller) toy in her food dish as well, but that’s not nearly as much of a mess as a 2-foot string soaked in water! My dear kitty friends, what is going through this thoughtful, playful, mind? Harley is strictly an indoor cat, with only brief (10 minute or less) trips on the deck in the warmer summer months, and is for the most part healthy, although slightly overweight.
Siouxsie: We cats have many reasons for behavior that seems utterly mystifying to humans.
Thomas: It’s fair to say that most of us get up to some odd things from time to time.
Dahlia: Maybe Harley likes the taste of her string so much that she wants to infuse her water with its flavor!
Siouxsie: That’s ridiculous! Why would she like a string that tastes like cat saliva?
Thomas: Maybe her saliva tastes like tuna ’cause that’s what she ate for breakfast. Or maybe she likes her people’s smell and taste.
Siouxsie: The two of you are just … just … Humph!
Thomas: You’re just mad ’cause Sinéad buried your favorite mousie in the litterbox once.
Dahlia: Hey guys, let’s get back to business here. And besides, you know Siouxsie gets sad when you talk about Sinéad.
Siouxsie: As much as I hate to admit it, Dahlia, I guess you’re right. Not about the Sinéad part, of course. *sniffle* I mean, about getting back to business. I mean, of course I miss Sinéad–she was my sister and all–but really … it’s been three years now! Of course I’m over it! (No, that’s not a tear! I got something in my eye!)
Thomas: Anyway, KayCe, we have to be totally honest and tell you were’ not sure just why Harley would want to put her string in her water dish.
Dahlia: Some cats will put their toys in their food dish because it’s sort of like a game. For example, maybe they “kill” their toy mouse, so they put it in their dish to celebrate their success.
Siouxsie: Does she pull the string back out of the water dish once she’s done soaking it? If so, maybe she is giving it a rinse.
Thomas: If you want to humor her and let her keep having fun putting her string in her water, you could put the dish in a cafeteria tray or something like it in order to minimize any splashing from the water dish.
Dahlia: If not, maybe you can make the string a special treat toy. Put it away some place where Harley can’t reach it, and bring it out only when you’re going to play with her.
Siouxsie: By the way, we should mention that we love to play with strings, too. Not skinny strings that we could accidentally swallow, mind you, but like our Red String of Death.
Thomas: Mama says the Red String of Death is a 6-foot-long boot lace, but it’ll always be the Red String of Death to us. I like to carry it around the house and leave it in random places.
Dahlia: And I love it when Mama or the human kittens twitch the string around and I get to chase it!
Siouxsie: I, of course, am above such shenanigans. Well, okay, I occasionally enjoy a game of String … I mean, I play String to humor Mama.
Thomas: We haven’t tried putting the Red String of Death in our water dish yet, though. Please thank Harley for the inspiration! I’m going to try that the next time Mama goes away.
Siouxsie: Oh, Thomas. Really!
Thomas: I could bury your new favorite mousie in the litterbox instead.
Dahlia: Be nice, Thomas.
Siouxsie: So, KayCe, although we can’t tell you much about why Harley loves bathing her string so much, we are glad you’re tolerant of her odd behavior. Some people are so obsessed with their floors and their stuff that they’d get all bent out of shape over wet strings.
Thomas: Good for you and your husband for making sure Harley gets her exercise, too. She’ll be a lot healthier in the long run because of it. I think you’re very good pet parents!
Dahlia: Enjoy your time with Harley. Maybe some of our other readers have toy-drowning cats too, and they can share their funny stories. I’d like to hear more stories about cats and their favorite toys!