Why Does My Cat Bring Me Socks?

Why Does My Cat Bring Me Socks?

All cat owners have experienced their cats bringing them random things as “gifts”. It could be a dead rat, their toys or other items.  While most find it cute, your cat most likely has a message for you. How about when your cat brings you socks? Does it mean anything at all?

Why does my cat bring me socks?

A cat may bring you socks for the following reasons:

1. Your cat would like to help you learn how to hunt. 

Cat experts theorize that felines bring “presents” like socks to their owners because they would like to help them learn how to hunt. It was observed that spayed female cats were more likely to bring “gifts” like mangled rats and this may be due in part to instinct. Their ancestors once taught their young how to eat by bringing home their prey. Domestic cats still possess this instinct but since they do not have their young to teach hunting skills they turn to their owners and since your cat stays indoors, items like socks are usually accessible and their next options instead of dead prey. 

2. Your cat may want to play fetch with you.

Are you wondering why your cat is bringing you socks during any particular time of the day? She may be doing it to catch your attention and entice you to play fetch! Cat experts believe that felines like to bring socks or other items to their humans as part of a “toss and fetch” game. 

So, the next time you toss away the sock your cat brings to you, you will notice that she will most likely bring it back to you. Also, studies reveal that certain cat breeds like the Siamese are feline retrievers as they are more likely to play fetch with other cats. 

3. Your cat sees it as a fun thing to do.

Cats are playful creatures and bringing socks to you may simply mean they are doing it out of sheer fun. Playtime for domestic cats usually gives clues on their hunting behavior and it is normal for them to carry around “prey” in their mouths such as socks or toys. Similarly, it is instinctive for cats to bring their “prey” to safe locations where they are supposed to “eat” it. 

How many times have you discovered your cat placing socks and other items in a cardboard box or water bowl? Cat behavior like this may all boil down to ingrained instincts. 

While some cat owners believe their cats bring them socks because of maternal instinct, most cat experts are not convinced of this. Bringing socks and other items to their humans is not a strictly female-only kind of behavior and male cats are also observed to bring “gifts” to their owners. Nevertheless, while it may bother you sometimes if your cat rummages and brings your socks over to you, there is no need to worry about her behavior so long as she is not trying to eat it. 

Why does my cat bring me toys?

Some cats tend to bring toys to their owners instead of dead prey or socks. A cat may exhibit this behavior for the following reasons:

  • she may be expecting a reward or some praises from you in the form of treats or through cuddles and petting 
  • she may be teaching you how to hunt 
  • she may want to play with you 
  • she may be implying that the toy is a trophy for a game 
  • she may want you to look after the toy 
  • as an expression of her affection for you 

What should I do if my cat brings me dead prey?

While bringing socks and toys may seem cute, bringing dead prey like mangled mice, lizards or bugs may seem inappropriate and cringy plus they smell awful, too. 

Here are some things that you can do if your cat presents you with these unsightly gifts:

  • thank and praise your cat for the gift she brought you 
  • do not yell or manifest any negative reaction 
  • let her know that you are happy with the gift but dispose of it immediately once she is at a safe distance
  • should your cat venture again to the outdoors be sure to feed her first to minimize chances of bringing in more prey
  • put a bell on your cat’s collar so that the next time she is outdoors her probable prey such as rodents will be alerted 
  • keep your cat indoors for good 
  • disinfect any surfaces or things that the “gifts” came in contact with and dispose of it properly

Cats may have unique personalities but they all have that naughty streak and aside from bringing gifts like socks, dead prey and toys they may also bring you other surprising items. These may include plastic grocery bags, leaves, kitchen sponges, mittens, shoes and underwear, to name a few.

Final thoughts 

Cats tend to bring random things back to their owners as their way of presenting their “catch” for the day. Most cats may bring dead prey like rats or birds while some may bring socks. Your cat may bring you socks as she may want to play fetch with you and to “teach” you how to hunt as part of her predatorial instinct. She may also be doing it out of sheer fun and to catch your attention. 

Image: istockphoto.com / krblokhin