“Where is my favorite hair tie? I swear, it was here only a minute ago!” Does it sound like your typical morning as you’re getting ready to go about your day? Only to see your kitty playing with that same little black tie you’re looking for. What a coincidence! Why do cats like hair ties, anyway?
That’s a very good question. Why do cats do anything they do, really? Is it just because they can? Or are they trying to mess with our heads?
If you ask me, I believe it’s a bit of both. Our beloved feline companions have this ingrained feeling they are the kings of the jungle, and they have made it their mission to remind us of it for life. How considerate, right?
I know, I know, they’re no lions, but mere domestic cats and our home is no jungle, but a decent and modestly decorated apartment, but this doesn’t mean that they’ve shaken off their feline dream of being the boss.
So, our apartment becomes their apartment, our cardboard boxes become their cardboard boxes, our bed becomes their bed, and so on. And, of course, our hair ties become their favorite toys to play with!
But what’s so special about these small, almost insignificant items? Let’s find out together!
Why do cats like hair ties?
If there’s one thing in this world I’m most certain about, it’s the fact that humans cannot understand cats, no matter how hard they try. Our fluffy buddies are so peculiar, we simply can’t wrap our brains around their weird and unpredictable behavior.
So, when it comes to liking hair ties or eating cardboard, all we can do is guess why. Whether our guesses are true or not will remain a mystery. But a mystery that’s definitely worth believing in.
Here are 7 lucky guesses as to the reasons cats like hair ties.
1. They are curious
You know how the saying goes: “Curiosity killed the cat.” Or in this case, “Curiosity made my cat lose all my favorite hair ties.”
Yes, part of the reason cats love to play with hair ties is because they are curious about them. In their eyes, your hair tie is something new and exciting – something they’ve never seen before.
Whether it be a scrunchie or a good old elastic, most kitties will find it irresistibly interesting and intriguing.
2. They are under a lot of stress
We all know that playing with random items is part of a feline’s playful nature. But when they start to play, chew and munch on something excessively, that can be a sign of an underlying stress-related issue.
Yup, it’s true! Just like humans, cats can also be stressed. I’m not sure if you want to hear this, but they can also die from it. Luckily, that doesn’t happen very often.
We cope with stressful situations in our lives by withdrawing and spending some time alone, exercising, or being surrounded by positive and humorous people. So, it would be wrong to assume that our feline companions don’t need to channel their stress somehow as well.
Sometimes they hide and avoid their owners, or engage in destructive behavior, but other times they cope with stress by playing with something (in this case, hair ties).
3. They enjoy the texture of the hair tie
This reason closely relates to the first one we mentioned. Sometimes, the texture of a hair tie can make it extremely interesting to cats, thus awakening their curious nature.
Depending on what hair tie has captured their attention, its texture can definitely appeal to their senses. It makes the tie move differently, feel different under their paws, and generally appear like a fun new toy to play with.
4. They love the smell
Another reason cats love to play with hair ties, especially rubbery ones, is because they are attracted to the smell of them.
This might sound weird or unlikely to us since we don’t exactly experience any scent emanating from our hair ties, but remember, felines have more olfactory receptors than we do, and therefore have a much better sense of smell.
And since our hair ties sometimes contain certain chemicals only cats can pick up on, no wonder they find them extremely interesting to play with.
5. And of course, it’s their hunting nature
“Why do cats like hair ties? Is it because they are natural hunters?” If this was your first guess, then I’m happy to announce you’re probably right!
When engaging in any form of playful activity, cats usually emulate a predatory scene. Whether it be biting your toes while you’re asleep, or running after plastic bags around your home at 3 in the morning, cats are doing their own rendition of a hunter-chasing-his-prey scene.
It’s in their nature to hunt small animals like mice, squirrels, and birds, but if they live indoors, those animals are not that accessible. That’s why we buy them toys that resemble their prey. (Why they’re sometimes not attracted to them will remain a mystery, though!)
And while hair ties in our eyes don’t seem like prey whatsoever, their small size, bouncy nature, and interesting texture can be extremely alluring to felines’ hunting nature.
6. It’s their hoarding tendencies, too
Believe it or not, cats don’t only hunt when they’re hungry or feeling frisky. They are opportunistic hunters by nature, which means they will hunt prey whenever the opportunity presents itself and keep it as a type of trophy.
Hair ties are, as we have already mentioned, often perceived by our fluffballs as a great catch to prey on. They might catch them even when they’re not up for it, and store them in their lounging spot for later.
So, if you keep losing your hair ties, you might want to check your kitty’s sleeping spot.
7. Cats like hair ties because they like you
And the last reason cats like hair ties is hidden behind one simple, yet adorable truth: They like their owners.
Some felines associate hair ties (or any other personal belongings, for that matter) with their beloved owners. Your kitty sees you using these peculiar objects and putting them on your head, or she is drawn to the smell of your hair that’s still lingering on the tie.
Your fluffball might be saving your hair tie for all those moments her favorite human is not around, so she can play with the one item that reminds her of you. How adorable is that?
Should you worry about your kitty playing with your hair ties?
Now that we have unraveled the mystery of why cats like hair ties (at least to some degree), it’s time to determine whether there’s a need to worry about their strange fascination.
The answer is both yes and no. Why?
Well, playful activities for cats are super important as they can be great mental stimulators and a way for them to preserve their impeccable shape. But playing with certain items that are not pet-safe can sometimes be very dangerous.
In general, it’s not recommended for cats to play with anything other than their designated cat toys. This is because while playing, cats often use their teeth to bite into the item.
By chewing on hair ties, cats can easily break them apart, which typically leads to them swallowing a piece or two. Once a hair tie particle finds itself inside the intestines, it can cause some serious gastrointestinal troubles and even have a fatal outcome.
Some cats bite toys because they are… well, cats. But others do it more excessively, due to a behavioral condition called Pica syndrome. This syndrome is characterized by a strong urge to lick, suck on, and eat non-edible things.
Experts claim that small amounts of consumed non-edible items are usually no reason for panic. If cats eat a small piece of a certain item – in this case hair tie – that particle will usually just pass right through their digestive tract.
However, cat parents have to pay attention if their furballs eat too much of something that’s not supposed to be eaten, since a large amount of it can, as already mentioned, cause more severe health complications.
When to visit the vet?
Frankly speaking, there is no line when it comes to the right amount of consumed non-edible items. “Oh, my cat has eaten one whole hair tie. If she eats one more, that’s when I’ll take her to the vet.” No, that’s just not how it works.
If you noticed your kitty has eaten a single piece of your hair tie, or any other foreign item for that matter, take her to the vet immediately. It’s always better to be safe than sorry and to get a professional opinion instead of assuming everything’s fine.
Our fluffballs are very precious, and their well-being should be our top priority. It’s always better to appear as an overly protective and dramatic cat mom to a vet (because he probably won’t judge) than to miss the opportunity to help your kitty.
So, bite the bullet and take your cat to the vet as soon as you catch her swallowing your hair tie. Symptoms that may help you be certain something is off are gagging, vomiting, loss of appetite, and lethargy.
Once you take her to see the vet, he will examine her and determine whether or not she needs certain medications or medical procedures.