Why Does My Cat Carry Around a Toy?

The Curious Behavior of Cats Explained

By 5 WS

DEAR JOAN: Our male, neutered cat wanders around the house with a small stuffed animal, emitting peculiar whining noises until we give chase. He then proceeds to knead the rug, often appearing entranced. Can you shed some light on this odd behavior?
Pets and Animals | Male cat in Clayton carries around a toy while making odd sounds
Robert Flaharty, Clayton

DEAR ROBERT: Cats, with their idiosyncratic habits, never cease to amaze us, although this particular behavior is not as unusual as it may seem for a feline.

There are a few plausible explanations for the behavior you’ve observed. Firstly, it’s possible that your cat is indicating a desire for a game of fetch. When he drops the stuffed toy, he expects you to retrieve it and toss it for him.

Secondly, he may be displaying behavior more commonly associated with female cats, although not unheard of in males. By treating the toy as a kitten and relocating it, your cat mimics the actions of a mother cat with her young offspring.

Thirdly, he might be endeavoring to teach you to hunt. While this behavior is more frequent in female cats, some males also engage in instructing their kittens on hunting and survival skills. When cats capture prey, they bring it back, still alive, to their kittens, demonstrating how to stalk and dispatch the animal. In this instance, your cat perceives humans as severely lacking in hunting proficiency, thus attempting to instruct them.

Lastly, it’s not uncommon for our pets to develop a strong attachment to specific toys, treating them as if they were their own offspring. Although it may sound somewhat melancholic, your cat vocalizes while carrying the toy to demonstrate his pride in his “baby.”

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There is a fifth possibility that the cat is experiencing significant stress, but this does not appear to be the case in your situation.

Regarding the kneading of the rug, this behavior signifies contentment. When your cat kneads, it harkens back to kittenhood when kittens kneaded their mother while nursing, evoking a sense of security and happiness.

DEAR JOAN: A stray puppy, resembling a Labrador, roams from house to house seeking handouts. It consumes rocks from the blacktop driveway instead of dog food. What could be motivating this preference for blacktop rocks over high-quality dog food containing meat as the primary ingredient? Everyone is curious.
Heather Hill, Warner Robins, Georgia

DEAR HEATHER: It’s perilous for the puppy to ingest asphalt, which is poisonous, as well as rocks, which can lead to various health complications, including intestinal blockages. I suspect that the puppy is experiencing considerable distress due to homelessness and malnourishment. This may have resulted in a condition known as “pica,” which is an impulse to consume non-food items.

Many animals, including humans, can develop pica. The stray puppy is likely unable to resist this compulsion due to its overwhelming strength. Additionally, the rocks and asphalt may fill her stomach differently than dog food, giving her a temporary sense of satiation.

Immediate intervention is necessary. If you can safely capture her, it’s crucial to take her to a veterinarian and then transfer her to a shelter or animal rescue organization, where she can find a loving home.

For more insightful articles on pets and animals, visit 5 WS.

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