Our feline friends are little hunters who love chasing around toys. Or sometimes your hair ties, nose spray, coins, expensive makeup brushes… especially your shoelaces. So why do cats like string so much? Is it because it looks like a mouse tail?
Most of our furbabies go crazy for string toys. Sometimes, they don’t even need it to be a toy at all. They’re smart, independent cats that can have fun on their own. Using your things, of course. All they need is a bit of thread or rope of any kind and they can have fun with it for the rest of the day.
Every cat parent knows how frustrating it can be when you bring home a new toy for your cat, and she decides to completely ignore it. And you were excited about it, too! Why in the world is she choosing your shoelaces instead of the fancy toy you got her?
No matter how different our cats can be, there are some things that all felines have in common: a love for food, string, and naps. Okay, we can see why they love munching and napping so much. I mean, who doesn’t? But why do cats like string? What’s up with that?
Read on and we’ll see the most common reasons.
Why do cats like string? 6 possible reasons
Although loving string is a universal experience for all cats, there isn’t a universal reason why it happens. There could be many answers to why cats love playing with string. Is it them being little hunters, or simply because they love to have fun? Let’s find out together.
1. It’s their hunting instinct kicking in
We treat our kitties like they’re little soft balls of fluff that we can cuddle all day long. But in reality, our cats have their wild side like any of their wild ancestors. Although a lot softer and more tamed, this side of them shows best when they’re playing.
The furball napping by your side right now is an amazing hunter. When she plays with string or chases thread around the house, her hunting instinct kicks in and you get to witness her wild side.
The movement of the string excites your little hunter as it mimics the movement of prey such as snakes, for instance. Because of that, your purring predator simply can’t resist the urge to chase it around.
Many of the things cats do around our home are a replica of what they’d do in nature. Even though they’re domesticated, our feline friends still like to hunt, chase, and run around like they’re in the wild. After all, your kitty only has to hunt her food bowl to get some food, so string is her second-best option.
2. A cat’s vision is sensitive to motion
Have you ever placed a treat right in front of your kitty, yet she still somehow failed to see it? Right in front of her nose? It seems impossible to us, but that’s because our eyes are much better at seeing static things than our felines’.
However, if you’re pulling a string, or twitching anything for that matter, you’ll notice your cat snapping her head to see it. It’s enough for her to notice it from the corner of her eye and get into hunting mode.
That’s because your kitty’s vision is much more sensitive to motion. It’s easier for her to see things that are moving even slightly than the treat you have right in front of her. That’s why they’re such good hunters – their eyes don’t miss a thing.
3. It gives them satisfaction
You know what? Sometimes it’s just about sheer satisfaction. Our felines are divas and they love feeling good, especially about something they do.
As house cats, it’s hard for them to get any kind of satisfaction from hunting. Except maybe when they catch a fly or two. It’s not unusual for felines who roam outside to catch something and bring it to their owners. They love being praised for what they’ve achieved.
Because of that, our more domesticated fur buddies get a lot of satisfaction from playing with string. Unlike other toys, your cat usually doesn’t have to chase the string too much. When a string is stagnant, it’s easy for your kitty to catch it, which gives her a sense of triumph.
It’s the closest thing your feline has to hunting a mouse or any other animal she’d prey on. She’s been locked inside her whole life, so a string is better than nothing, right?
4. They love the texture
We all know how hard it is to get our cats to stop scratching our furniture and carpets. No matter what you do, your kitty will always go back to the beautiful new sofa you got. That’s because our felines love digging their claws into things that have a nice texture. Take it as a compliment on your new sofa!
But why do cats like string so much if they’re fans of digging their claws into things?
Well, your feline’s claws of danger are perfect for catching and holding on to things (your skin knows that all too well!) A big ball of string feels like heaven under your kitty’s claws. Unlike things made of plastic or any other hard materials, a nice, soft ball is a perfect victim for your feline’s paw.
5. Cats just want to have fun
Cats are easily entertained – they really don’t need much to have fun. Sometimes, your kitto will turn her little head away from that nice new toy you got her, and start playing with the bill that fell out of your pocket.
No matter what catches their attention, one thing is for sure: cats love to have fun. And a nice big ball of string can be a source of unending fun for your little bestie. Throw it to her and watch her go crazy. It’s like a dream come true for all our furry companions.
Sometimes, a ball of string might be even more entertaining than a toy threat because your cat will have more options. It’s an easy and cheap way to keep your kitty entertained for the whole afternoon while you get some work done.
The best thing about cats is that, although they love your company, they don’t really need you to have fun. No matter how heartbreaking that may sound to some…
Young cats are often entertained by the part of them that’s always there – their tail! They chase it around like it’s not attached to them, and it’s always a hilarious thing to watch.
A ball of string leaves a similar effect as it reminds our fun-loving felines of their tail. No matter if they outgrow it or not, they’ll always go back to this little game of theirs.
6. Playing with string stimulates their brain
Just as is the case with children, physical and mental stimulation is really important for feline health. Now, because cats are super playful and energetic, they can easily get bored.
That’s when we have to jump in and think of the ways we can keep them entertained. It’s a full-time job being a cat parent!
If your kitto gets bored or anxious, it’s really important for her to find a way to gain some mental stimulation. When they start feeling this way, it often leads to other issues such as aggression, clawing carpets and furniture, antisocial behavior, and more.
A simple string can help your kitty avoid all of this. If she’s an inside cat, she probably lacks the mental and physical stimulation that cats get in nature. Because of that, watching, preying, and catching string can help your cat stay mentally and physically active.
So, not only will this help your kitto stay happy and energized, but also fit! Who would’ve thought that a simple piece of string can do all this?
Should I let my cat play with string?
Now, although there are some positive things associated with your kitty playing with string, there are some bad sides to it as well. Yes, she enjoys it, but that doesn’t mean you should always allow her to do it. We all know that cats are well-known for being curious and getting in trouble because of it…
I’m not saying you should never let your cat play with a threat, but you should definitely never let her do it on her own. Because there are so many risks that come with this game, it’s crucial that you monitor your kitty while she’s chasing the string around.
Make sure to invest in a nice and durable string that your furbaby won’t break or chew off. That way, you’ll avoid her ingesting the fabric and the possible health issues that could come with it. And make sure to always keep an eye on your bestie while she’s chasing her string around.
Some risks of a cat playing with string
Any type of string, ribbon, or thread can be extremely dangerous for cats if it’s too long. Since your kitty goes crazy when she sees a string, she doesn’t pay much attention to what she’s doing.
Because of that, cats often roll around in the thread and get their limbs stuck. If not monitored, this can lead to some serious injuries, or even choking.
On top of that, it’s not rare that cats swallow a piece of a string while they chew on it during playtime. No matter the texture of the string, it can easily get stuck in your kitty’s digestive tract and create some serious health issues, such as an intestinal blockage.
If this happens, it would be crucial for you to get your cat to the vet as soon as possible. She would probably have to have surgery. Not only would that be unpleasant for your furbaby, but it would also come with a hefty price tag.
And something we don’t think about a lot when it comes to playing with string – it can have a negative impact on your cat’s behavior. I know, it sounds contradictory considering everything we’ve said about mental stimulation, but it can all become too much for your feline friend.
It’s common for cats to get so into the game that they get overexcited, aggressive, and hyperactive. If you share a house with small children, this may become a problem because your kitty would have a hard time controlling herself.
This physical exertion could also be a health hazard for cats with joint or heart problems.
What to do if your cat swallows string?
If your cat swallows some string, don’t worry. It isn’t necessarily serious. Most cats pass it without any issues and the string is out of their system within 10 to 24 hours.
Of course, there may be possible complications, so it’s important to keep an eye on your kitty for at least a day to avoid any serious health issues. Look for any signs of stomach pain and/or constipation. If your furbaby shows any symptoms at all, make sure to contact her vet to check her, just in case.
If you see a string dangling from your kitty’s mouth or anus, don’t try to pull it out. No matter how tempting it might be, it’s highly likely that you’d cause more trouble for your kitty than actually help her. Since it’s unlikely that the string will dislodge itself, it’s important to get your feline to the vet ASAP.