To say the least, cats may be strange!
That is, however, one of the many reasons we adore them! One of the weird behaviors that some cats appear to have picked up is delivering sock to their people on the spur of the moment. Videos showing cats dragging socks around the home and even meowing while doing so abound on the internet.
So, why do cats deliver socks to people? While we can’t be positive, it’s likely that it has something to do with your cat’s innate hunting instinct, which pushes them to share their “prey” with you to teach you how to hunt. It might also be as easy as having a good time!
Let’s take a closer look at why certain cats engage in this amusing activity.
Why Does My Cat Bring Me Socks?
Your Cat Is Helping You Learn To Hunt
One of the most prevalent beliefs about why cats give their owners gifts (like socks) is that they’re attempting to teach you how to hunt. According to the team and LiveScience.com:
Female cats who have been spayed are more prone to deliver their owners gruesome presents. They do, however, have their reasons.
Cat moms in the wild educate their kittens how to eat by bringing home dead or damaged prey. Cats in the home are no exception. However, in today’s world of spayed domestic cats, many female felines don’t have any offspring to whom they may pass on their hunting knowledge.
If your cat is only allowed indoors and doesn’t have access to wild animals to trap, your stinky sock may be the next best thing.
Does this imply that your sock has a rotten animal odor?
I’ll leave it up to you to decide.
Your Cat Is A Feline Retriever
Sarah Hartwell discusses the feline retriever’s distinctive but not entirely rare habit on her website, MessyBeast.com. As part of a game, these cats will bring objects from around the home (even socks) to their owners.
To put it another way, your cat could enjoy a game of fetch! According to Hartwell, this was most commonly seen with wool socks, with some cats even pulling them out of the washing basket!
Certain cat breeds were also shown to be more likely to be feline retrievers. In a 1990 informal poll, Siamese cats were shown to be more likely to desire to play fetch, with 35 of the 50 fetching cats being oriental types.
So, the next time your cat offers you a sock, chuck it out. If you have a feline retriever, they could just return it to you!
While millions of years of instinct and evolution have impacted everything your cat does, your cat could just be bringing you socks because it’s fun! The majority of play is modeled after hunting behavior, and carrying prey in your cat’s mouth is quite natural.
Cats would frequently transport prey back to a more secure spot where they could securely consume it. This was discussed in my piece about why cats put objects in their water bowl. It’s not that your cat wants to eat a sock, but it’s easy to imagine that dragging your stinky sock around makes them feel like they’ve just caught their next meal.
And I’m quite sure that sounds like fun to a cat!
It’s Probably Not Maternal Instinct
I’ve seen a couple ideas that claim this is part of a cat’s mother instinct, and they believe the sock is their child. While I’ve written about cats bringing their babies to you, this hypothesis sounds a little far-fetched when it comes to socks. There’s nothing I’ve uncovered that suggests this is a female-only tendency.
Despite the limited sample size, the poll indicated “a 50:50 split between male and female, i.e. no gender propensity to collecting toys,” according to Cat World.
Should I Be Worried?
There’s nothing to be concerned about as long as your cat is simply carrying socks and not attempting to devour them. Cats who devour non-food things may be suffering from feline pica, an uncommon illness. Cats, for the most part, like retrieving socks and aren’t attempting to eat them!
Some cats may opt to nurse on socks (particularly wool socks), and while this takes the entire sock retrieval issue to a whole new level, you should be OK unless your cat is really consuming non-food stuff.
At the end of the day, we can’t say for sure why cats do what they do, but most of their actions are likely to reflect their past as both hunters and predators. Carrying a sock about might be a good way to simulate hunting and capturing wildlife.