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!
I have a string, too, but I like to steal it away from my mama. Maybe you like a clean string.
Wait till your cat starts putting all her toys in her water bowl.
Really you do wonder what goes through their minds some time don’t you.
Cats don’t play with their toys; they just hunt them. So, I think it’s his natural instincts. May be he thinks he must drown the prey to make sure it is dead.
I have six cats. One of them, Blackie, likes to take these curled up pipe cleaners we use for toys and put them in the food bowl. Yesterday, there was 5 of them in there. I don’t understand why she does it.
My cat Figo puts his fuzzy mouse into his water bowl several times a day. At first I thought it was a not-so-subtle message that he wanted fresh water, but now I really have no idea. It’s kind of cute, really, until I take the soaked mouse out and put it somewhere “safe” to dry, only to discover that he has found it and deposited in the middle of my bed!
My female cat also loves to put her toys in her food bowl or water bowl. Generally, if she has played hard but the toy isn’t “dirty” (i.e. covered with too much cat hair) she puts it in the food bowl. I’m guessing because all that play made her hungry and either that’s where she puts the toy while she eats or she thinks the toy might be hungry. If it does have a bit of kitty fur on it from flying around all over the floor she instead puts it in her water bowl – most likely to clean it off. I will then get them out of the water bowl, smush them between a towel or some paper towels to get as much moisture out as possible and then sniff it to make sure it doesn’t smell nasty (mildewy or just stinky). If it doesn’t smell I let it dry on the counter and then put it back out for her a day or two later. If it stinks it goes straight to the garbage can – because I’d rather buy a new toy than have her chewing on something that may contain mold or mildew.
Cats look upon their food area as part of their territory, and that particular area of their territory usually doesn’t change from day to day – so the cats are likely putting their favorite toys away in a “safe” place. Some cats will consistently put away their toys when they’re through playing with them – you might try putting your cat’s toys in a small basket near one of his favorite spots and see if he will put them away on his own
I don’t think it has much to do with territory because my cat will put her favorite mouse in ANY water – toilet, dog’s water bowl, her water bowl, etc. I think it has more to do with either cleaning it off, or the fact that a catnip mouse just feels more real if it’s wet – it has more weight to it like a real mouse! Whatever the reason, she puts them in, we take them out and place them in front of the fireplace to dry only to find she has stolen them back when no one is looking! It’s messy and it’s quirky, but it keeps her occupied!!
Just about any cat behavior, if you watch it long enough, is strange. That’s just cats and that’s part of the fun of having cats. Let them do their thing and enjoy watching.
My 9 month old female kitten, Glori, started putting her fluffy toys in her water dish a couple of months ago. Sometimes there will be 3 toys in there at the same time and sometimes they show up in the bathroom sink. But just this morning she decided to deposit one of them in my coffee cup! It’s probably just a game, but was she sharing her toy or trying to get attention? hmmmm….
I’ve seen the same thing. I had a kitten that started putting his toys in his water. It gets messy because if the toys don’t dry up then they start to smell, so you’ve got to wash and dry them all the time.
I have 2 kitties and not only to they like to put bally (a fuzzy ball with a bell in the middle) in their water bowl but also in any glasses of water, that I may have set down somewhere. One day I actually saw the baby fish it out and continue playing with it leaving me to think how many times have I drank “bally” water yuk! lol.
My cat, Neferkitty AKA the mittenkitten, puts her string in her food bowl too. I thought maybe she thinks she’s feeding it. I was also thinking she used to kill and eat things. Maybe she kills the string and then eats the food as if she was symbolically killing to eat. Or maybe all her favorite posessions go in the same place. She also used to pile up catnip mousies outside my bedroom door.
Cats look upon their food area as part of their territory, and that particular area of their territory usually doesn’t change from day to day – so the cats are likely putting their favorite toys away in a “safe” place. Some cats will consistently put away their toys when they’re through playing with them – you might try putting your cat’s toys in a small basket near one of his favorite spots and see if he will put them away on his own.
My girl Shadow is a bombay, reminds me of a miniature black panther. I raised her on a bottle starting from her day of birth. My question is what could be the reason why her mother left only her on the front porch. She is healthy without any deformaties. However, she is very high strung and will not allow anybody at all to pet her but me? She is now 2 yrs.old. Will she ever calm down?