Cats and children go together like peanut butter and jelly–the children use string to play with the cats, and the cats can’t resist the dangling “thing” and try catching it before it goes away again. A moving string is irresistible to cats and kittens alike, even senior cats. What is it about a piece of string that cats cannot resist?
Cats like string so much because they are natural predators and have a strong hunting instinct. The string could be a snake or a mouse’s tail. A moving string catches their eyes, and they cannot help but spring into action. They need to chase things, and it helps keep boredom and anxiety at bay.
When cats have a piece of string, they have a fun game to play. Here’s how to play with your cat safely, so let’s get started!
Cats Have a Strong Hunting Instinct
Evolutionary speaking, cats are still mostly wild and have a hunting instinct that has never gone away despite the thousands of years that cats have been domesticated. Indoor cats tend to get bored if they don’t have stimulation and activities to keep them active. When they see something moving, they instantly want to chase it.
A String Catches Their Eye and Spurs Them to Action
Cats are wired to detect the smallest movement that makes them excited, and they will immediately come to a full alert. It might mean the difference between a satisfying meal or starving if a cat lives outdoors. Or it could mean something much larger, which poses a threat to the cat, making it ready to run or pounce.
A cat’s visual system is very sensitive, especially to things that are thin and move quickly. Snakes are a threat to cats, which outdoor cats in tropical climates must deal with often. Knowing when to move can mean the difference between life and death. But for indoor cats, this response doesn’t go away just because they live their lives inside.
The String Might Be a Mouse’s Tail
Then again, the string might be a mouse’s tail, which of course, means they get to have a fun hunting adventure. A silent prey that moves is irresistible and activates that hunting instinct. As they crouch and slink quietly towards the string, their tail moves ever so slightly. When the string moves slowly along the floor, they move slowly, hoping to catch it before it runs away.
Suddenly, as the string moves up the wall, the cat leaps into action and jumps high to catch its prey. But alas, it was too quick to catch. That doesn’t stop a cat from trying.
And so goes the game of string with a cat. Cats love to chase string because it is instinct to hunt something. When you’re playing with your cat, allow it to catch the string once in a while to keep it more interesting.
Cats Often Have Interest In What You’re Doing
You’re very important to your cat, and what you like doing has an impact on your cat. If you enjoy knitting, crocheting, or doing needlework, your cat will take an interest in what you take an interest in. If you do these things, you might notice your cat trying to “catch” your yarn or pounce on it.
They aren’t doing this to annoy you. They are showing an interest in your hobbies and want to “help.” Other the other hand, they are probably trying to protect you from the “string monster” that seems to keep attacking you.
At any rate, cats are attracted to your yarn because they have a hunting instinct, and they are curious about what you’re doing. It’s their way of showing you love and affection.
Cats Need to Chase Things
Cats love games where they track things and chase them across the floor. Pulling a string, or a soft ribbon or measuring tape across the floor stimulates your cat’s curiosity and gives them mental and physical exercise to keep them from getting bored. It also works their tracking skills, which are essential for any natural hunter.
Indoor cats are prone to laziness and boredom because there isn’t much to hunt or do. Younger cats tend to create their games, and if there are stairs in your home, they will run up and down them until they are worn out. String or other thin long items can keep your indoor cat in shape by having them track and chase the item.
However, if your house is old, there might be mice or rats that your indoor cat can chase and kill.
Outdoor cats still like string, but they often don’t need to chase string when they chase real prey outside. However, if you want to use string to play with your cat, they will most likely enjoy it.
String Helps Reduce Boredom and Anxiety
Indoor cats, especially, are not stimulated in accordance with their hunting instincts. Cats that don’t have anything to do or have games to play can create boredom and anxiety, causing them to act out in destructive ways. They might start fighting with another cat in your home, or they may sleep longer than necessary for a cat.
A cat that is bored or stressed might use the “bathroom” other places besides the litter box. A piece of string or a string toy can help relieve some of this boredom or anxiety and mentally and physically stimulate your cat.
String Can Be Dangerous
Sometimes, when left unattended, a cat will eat a piece of string or get tangled up in a ball of yarn. Both scenarios can be dangerous and, in rare cases, be fatal. Cats with an unusual fascination with chewing on the string may have Pica, which is the need to eat non-food items. Check with your vet if you think this is the case.
Cats Can Swallow String
When you are playing with your cat and a piece of string, you might notice that they like chewing on it. If you have a strong grip on it and watch it play, your cat should be safe. But be sure that any strings or yarn is put away when you’re not around to supervise your cat.
Cats will swallow string, which can be dangerous because it can work itself around their internal organs and bind them up, making it difficult or impossible for them to pass fecal matter. They can die from this condition.
When playing with your cat and string, keep an eye on them both to make sure they don’t eat it.
Your Cat Can Get Tangled in String
When playing with a ball of yarn, the yarn can come unraveled and could entangle your cat. If the yarn gets wrapped around its feet, your cat might panic and struggle, which will tighten the yarn’s grip on your cat, which can cause injury.
A ball of yarn might be a fun toy, but it can also be dangerous. So when you and your cat are done playing, put the yarn in a sealed bag so your cat cannot get to it when you’re not paying attention.
Cats and string can be a very interesting combination to watch, especially if that string is attached to a child. Children have a natural need to play games just like cats do, and when they are together, they often have a lot of fun together.
But, since string can be very dangerous to cats, you might want to find other string-like toys that stimulate its need for hunting while staying safe from ingesting or getting tangled up in. Toys like feather danglers, paper bags, catnip mice, or laser pointers can do the same thing without the string’s dangers.
- Senior Cat Wellness: Why Do Cats Like to Play With String So Much?
- The Way of Cats: Their Thing for String
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- Catological: Why Do Cats Like to Play With String, and Is String a Good Toy?
- Cat Checkup: Life’s Simple Pleasures: Why Do Cats Like String?
Pam is a self-confessed cat lover and has experience of working with cats and owning cats for as long as she can remember. This website is where she gets to share her knowledge and interact with other cat lovers.