General Question

tonedef's avatar

Why does my cat drag towels around the house and howl?

Asked by tonedef (3935points) September 10th, 2008

This is the most bizarre behavior, and I didn’t see anything like it on Google. A cat that I recently adopted literally drags towels around the house, stops every few feet, kneads, howls (with towel still in her mouth), and then keeps dragging.

She only does this at night. The towel that she uses is the one that we dried her with after a bath, I don’t know if that’s relevant. Has anyone’s cat acted this way, or performed an analogous behavior? I’m stumped.

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73 Answers

augustlan's avatar

I have no clue why she’s doing it, but maybe if you wash the towel and put it away, she’ll stop. One of mine gets in the bathroom trash, picks up some toilet paper in her mouth, stops and drops it every so often and “cries”. We think she wants to play, as she fetches if you throw balled up paper for her. She also seems to lose us when we go to bed. She’ll wander around crying until I call her into the bedroom.

tinyfaery's avatar

Cats are bizarre creatures. You can try putting her towel in her favorite sleeping spot, or put it on your bed if she sleeps with you. Roll her up in the towel and carry her around in it. Drag the towel in front on her and see if she chases it. Give her a pet and love session while she is laying on or near the towel. Does the towel smell like her, or where she used to be?

My first cat was very sick when we adopted her, and she slept on a heating pad for the first week we had her. Ever since then she loves to lay on the heating pad, whether it’s on or off. It’s been 7 years.

I reiterate, cats are bizarre creatures.

La_chica_gomela's avatar

Tiny, that is sooo cute! I wish I had a kitty now…

hoosier_banana's avatar

What’s her name?

Response moderated (Unhelpful)
marissa's avatar

Since I can’t see the behavior, I don’t know if this applies or not. (Is the howl, like a gutteral growl?) But I do know that some cats will act this way with things (toys, pieces of blanket, sock, just about anything) as a kick back to their ‘hunter instinct’. She may view the towel as her prey/kill and thus lays claim to it. She drags it around and the ‘howl’ is a warning to other cats (even if there aren’t other cats) to stay away this is her towel and they can’t have it. Or it may just be another in a long list of cat behaviors that can’t be explained. I love cats! (@jack, as pets, not as food, just to be clear)

tonedef's avatar

marissa, that was the most adorable explanation possible. I hope that’s what this is. It sounds more like crying than growling, but she’s a Persian and she makes really weird noises. @hoosier, my cat’s name is Estelle, after the late Estelle Getty. (Here‘s a picture)

I don’t think that she’d want to sleep on it, since I put it in her room (she gets the guest room to herself), and she just dragged it across the house, kneaded on it, cried, and repeated.

She didn’t do it last night, so I hope that the problem is solved. She is so loud.

augustlan's avatar

What a cute kitty…though she looks pissed off!

syz's avatar

It almost sounds like a false pregnancy. Some animals will fixate on a specific item and treat them as if they are offspring (nesting, cuddling, etc). A few animals will even begin to lactate.

Tantigirl's avatar

tonedef – one of my girls does that with socks, she hunts them, yowls (she has a definitely different voice when she does this), then she’ll proudly drop in at my feet, and at night when I’m in bed, on my face!!! As Marissa said, it is a throw-back reaction. She is hunting our socks, just like yours is hunting your towel. Think of it as her mouse. We often say to our girl, where’s your mouse and she’ll give us her quizzical look and then come running back with a sock.

tinyfaery's avatar

Another story: One day, out of nowhere, shoes started showing up on my friends front porch. One at a time, each morning, a shoe would show up. Sometimes, there would even be a matching pair. One night, we were coming back to his house late from dinner, and we saw his cat, Mary Jane, carrying a shoe in her mouth. The next morning my friend went around the neighborhood to see if he could find where she was getting the shoes from. He walked up to this house, and saw a bunch of shoes sitting outside of the front door. Turns out a Japanese family lived there, and they kept their shoes outside. Well, my friend gave them back their shoes and recommended they keep their shoes in the house. But the family did not want to. Instead, every time a shoe went missing, the family would just get their shoe(s) from my friends front porch.

XrayGirl's avatar

Hey…what does the vet say??? ask them if you haven’t…hopefully they have some insight.

jenn's avatar

My cat does the same thing! It is usually clothes, though. I caught him on video a couple of minutes ago. I think it is seperation anxiety.

kimmdavis's avatar

I have a male cat that drags a blanket around the house at night. As soon as we go to bed, the dragging and yowling begin. It looks to me like he is humping the blanket. I can’t tell for sure but after he is done dragging it and yowling, he always licks himself. Also, if anyone walks into the room while he is doing it, he stops immediately. He won’t do it if he is being watched. I think it is pretty gross. Since I am not a cat, I’m not really sure what is going on.

tonedef's avatar

@kimmdavis. Wow! I didn’t know this was such a common phenom. I wonder how to make my cat stop doing it. It sucks when I have to clean up towels and dirty clothes every morning. And she’s LOUD!!

suemericle's avatar

I had a cat, “Boo” was his name. He was the most talented cat I have ever had. He would fetch the tops of aeresol deodorant cans. He not only fetched them, but would instigate the game by bringing them to me when I was sitting on the floor. After he fetched he would shake hands. So cool. Another thing Boo would do would be to bring blankets up from the basement. He was a muscular cat, but it was an awesome task. He’d tow them upstairs but if a human touched it, it would be dead, and he wouldn’t knead it. He would then go back down the basement and get another one to knead. Sometimes he would bring up a sleeping bag! I wish I had had a video camera back then. He left us 5 years ago at the age of 13.

ohcarie's avatar

Seriously! My 9 year old male cat just started doing this a year or so ago. It’s usually at night (after 10pm) and he grabs a towel, nothing special about the towel, and drags it around the house, usually out of sight, and HOWLS. It’s like a mournful yowl. For the life of me I can’t tell if it’s a paternal thing, a sexual thing (he was neutered at 5 mos), or something to do with his lost kittenhood. Usually it’s a hand towel, but sometimes it’s a bath towel! It’s so obnoxious!

tonedef's avatar

My cat has turned this into an extreme sport. I think he now tries to see how heavy of a blanket he can drag. More than once, I have found my snuggie in the middle of the hallway with teeth marks on it.

My cat is also older (12), and neutered. He’ll drag anything soft- dirty clothes, towels, blankets. If you try to interrupt him, he makes really angry noises.

fluffysmom's avatar

My cat howls every night carrying beanie babies around the house. He likes to put one in my bed and one in front of all the doors. I have another cat who is deathly afraid of them.

tonedef's avatar

@fluffysmom This is the single cutest cat story I’ve ever heard. I love all of these mysterious, puzzling cat stories, because it really shows how complex little cats can be. I have a friend who closes her cat in the office with all his toys every night, and he opens the door (he jumps and pulls down the lever-style handle), then opens the bedroom door, and takes all of his toys, one at a time, to her bed, and sleeps there with her and with all of his toys.

Also, with your cat, @fluffysmom, there seems to be a sense of fastidiousness, just like with my friend’s cat. One beanie baby in front of each door. That is just so cute.

amina's avatar

my cat also does the same, but she brings up bra’s and sox! mostly when i am not around… and she does meow while draging the cloths in her mouth kind of like she is crying. i guess they are just asking for more attention or more affection.! she does listen when i call her or if i cry she is there to confort me! so i should be there for her…~!!~

blhvns's avatar

My cat does the same thing with the kitchen towels and howls only at night. Sometimes i will wake up and i will find three different towels on my bedroom floor, which means she brings one up, drops it and then goes downstairs and repeats it two more times. It is really bizzare behavior. Sometimes, i have the towels in the wash room and she will get them out of there. I do my best to hide them or make sure they are put away, but she will start to collect my childrens socks and even my husband’s underwear one time and bring them in my room and leave them on my floor. She wakes the baby almost every night and stops howling only when i shush her or she jumps on the bed. She is a very needy cat meaning that she loves to be pet, but will not leave you alone no matter how long you pet her. I sometimes have to push her away to make her leave me alone.

The only thing i can think of is that she plays the same memory over and over again. She was the first kitten out of my cat Lady’s litter. When she was 5 months old, my cat lady was in labor with her second litter and was having them in my bedroom upstairs. After Lady had one of the kittens, She left it, walked downstairs and sought out my cat Sage, the then 5 month old, and dragged her upstairs by her neck and put her in the birthing box with her while she started to give birth to the remaining four kittens. Lady ended up getting hit by a car a few months later, but i think since she was the only kitten i kept out of all of the litters and she was really close to Lady (her mom), she misses her and replays it over and over again every night..the towel being her as a kitten.

Perhaps i am looking into this way too far, but it is the only thing i can think of and i don’t see it stopping anytime soon. ....and suggestions?

tonedef's avatar

@blhvns I think that cats definitely do this for psychological reasons. I thought that maybe my cat was having tooth pains, and was “teething”, but I got all his bad teeth taken out and he still did it. I recently put him on Prozac for litterbox issues, and he doesn’t do it anymore. Maybe it is related to some kind of kitten-era trauma.


My two female cats love to snatch sour wash rags out of the laundry bin then roll all over them on the floor. They act intoxicated while they are doing this. I cannot imagine what sort of pleasure they derive from this but they obviously enjoy it. They also cry and yowl each night around 10pm. Sometimes while carrying their toys upstairs to the bedroom. After that they go to sleep until morning.

wildpotato's avatar

I have a neutered 3yo male cat who just began doing this with shoes, and my parents have a spayed female 11yo who has done it with beanie babies since they got her. Once when my cousin was staying with us, her wild, pained howling woke him up and scared him deeply; my parents have since warned every guest who stays overnight that they may hear a banshee at some point. We thought she must have lost a litter of kittens and was playing it out for psychological reasons, but since my little buddy began the behavior recently I think the explanation offered in this thread about it being a prey-guarding behavior makes more sense. My other cats don’t seem to be affected by his yelling at all, though, so maybe it is something else… Good to know that this is common!

missyheart's avatar

I have a 6 year old male hymie that does the same thing! He doesnt care if it is towels, shoes or underwear! I get up in the morning and I have 5 different shoes in the floor by my bed. My cat will do this in the day time too.. We thought he was another cat.. but no siree… still doing it!

CatLover002's avatar

Hey, has your cat ever been pregnant before? If so, it sounds to me like your cat is either missing her babies (if they were taken away) or wishes to have offspring. The towel would represent the kitten she would carry in her mouth, and her crying sound she makes while doing it, is her crying for the loss of her babies. Or it could also be her crying out of longing to have her own kittens.
The reason why I think she behaves like that is because my aunt once had a cat who had her kittens taken away. Even years after the fact, the cat would carry around small stuffed animals, dish clothes, etc. and she would be crying for the loss of her kittens while doing it.
Just a suggestion!

suki0101's avatar

I have a fixed female. Day or night, she will carry a sock in her mouth and walk around and cry very loud. As soon as she sees me she drops it and make a funny chirping noise and walks away. I think it’s because she either was pregnant and had babies that were taken away or aborted. It seems like a maternal thing. The next time I’m at the vet, i’ll ask her and keep you updated

EdinAnn's avatar

Fletcher, one of our two neutered, 5 year old male cats does this throughout the day. If we leave a laundry basket out we find socks, underwear, and hand towels all over the house. I found a trail of undies from the bedroom down the hall and into the living room tonight. He often howls while carrying these items around. He’s a healthy, good natured cat in all other ways. I’ve lived with cats for over fifty years and this is the first one who has ever done this. Obviously the “misses being pregnant” explanation doesn’t apply to Fletcher.

wilma's avatar

suki0101, I think it is a maternal thing. She is bringing you the prey that she “caught”.
I had a mother cat once who would go outside at night and hunt, then bring back what she had caught, usually a mouse, and drop it in front of her kittens. (sometimes it was still alive and she would demonstrate for them how to kill it) She would always make that chirping noise when she did this.
It sounds like she is following her natural instincts and you are the one she is taking care of.

pkpkpkpkpkpkpkpkpk's avatar

FYI it’s definitely a female carrying her “kittens” and a male carrying “prey”. I have a female cat that carries those spongy play balls all around the house at night and comes to bed with one – mewing in exactly the same way mother cats mew/call their kittens – as she brings it to the bed. She also plops them into her dry food bowl. Apparently she’s a good mom and makes sure her kittens are fed. lol.

turtlegrrrl's avatar

Hi tonedef! My little cat Roxy has recently begun doing the exact same howling (in an in-heat & calling type of voice) and dragging around things routine, but only since we’ve had her spayed a few months ago, curiously, and like blhvns, it wakes my baby up. She seems to prefer the little rugs in my new baby’s room, so I thought maybe it was a jealousy/give-me-attention thing, but then she started doing it with washcloths or small towels (and then my underwear, too, which really wierded me out!!). She is a really strange cat to begin with, though.
I sleep on my side. She sleeps either between my chin and shoulder or in the crook of my armpit, always half on me. When I take a bath, she gets up on the toilet seat next to the tub and gives herself one. When I have to pee, she gets into her litter box under the bathroom sink and pees. When I eat, she goes to her bowl and eats. She’s a very clingy, needy animal; she’s almost always within three or four feet of me (she’s asleep in my lap as I type this). My husband has told me that when I leave she sits at the front door and howls constantly until I return (which drives him nuts).
She was found as an 8 week old kitten in a parking lot so I think she has abandonment issues, but I have been totally perplexed about what exactly she’s doing with the howling/dragging thing. She’s never had kittens and has been an inddor cat for all but the very earliest time of her life. She is like a child to me and is much closer to me than any of my family or husband. She also demontsrated one night while I was asleep that she knows what breasts are for: I woke up to her trying to nurse on me!!! My husband almost fell off the bed laughing, but it sure felt pretty nasty to me! I take care to sleep with a sports bra on now.
I googled ‘cat behavior dragging towels’ and this page came up and I am glad to have read it. There are a lot of intelligent, plausible answers here and I thank those who have taken the time to post them and tonedef for asking this question!! :}
(By the way, I had a JackAdams once, and he tasted awful and stained the sheets.)
One thing I do wonder though, tonedef, is have you or any of you others ever had the following feline experience? When I yell for my husband or one of my kids, my cat starts meowing loudly or comes running if she isn’t right there. If I keep it up, she jumps up and nips my cheek; just a faint bite not meant to hurt, but I guess a “shut up!” type of thing. It really startled me! I’ve had plenty of cats before but none ever displayed this kind of behavior, or the dragging and howling, either, but then I was never this close to one emotionally before. Is this normal for a cat? Also, do any of you know what I mean by finding the ‘right’ animal for you, a once-in-a-lifetime complete understanding, just a clicking between you and a cat? My husband and friends don’t understand what I mean when I tell them that my cat is like my real soul mate.

Kshirin's avatar

The answer to this mysterious cat behaviour is both simple and complicated. It’s called ‘fabric softener.’ Now, before you think I’m as crazy as this cat behaviour appears to be, let me explain…

Sweaters, socks, towels, jumpers etc are washed in washing powder that contains an enzyme that has a similiar scent to the lactose in a female cats milk. This emzyne can be found in all brands of laundry powders and fabric softeners and is a derivative of wool called lanolin. Lanolin and lactose have similiar protiens and that is what attracts the cat. Strange but true.

Enzymes are proteins that catalyze (i.e., increase the rates of) chemical reactions. In enzymatic reactions, the molecules at the beginning of the process are called substrates, and the enzyme converts them into different molecules, called the products. In the heating process during laundry washing, the enzyme in the washing power converts and gives off a strong scent which the cat is attracted to.

Lactose is a sugar that is found most notably in milk. Lactose makes up around 2–8% of milk (by weight), although the amount varies among species and individuals. It is extracted from sweet or sour whey. The name comes from lacte, the Latin word for milk, plus the -ose ending used to name sugars.

The item of clothing, be it socks, towels, jumpers simply attract the cat due to the animals highly developed sense of smell. The ‘humping’ behaviour is more prevelant in male cats, as opposed to female cats… however, female cats who display this behaviour have a dominate male gene in their genetic makeup. The dragging and, humping and howling are dominance signs… and stranger still, the kneeding that sometimes accompanies this behaviour is called a ‘softening.’ The softening is the cats instinct to soften its prey (ie: the towel) before it’s gifted to fellow pride members.

The behaviour is perfectly normal and often occurs at night because cats are nocturnal and in the wild, would usually hunt at night.

Robin_21's avatar

I just got a cat and she drags my socks around and drops them in her water dish….almost every day! i was also wonder what it means???

tinyfaery's avatar

I love how this thread stays alive—since 2008.

bearhug's avatar

My cat carrys a stuffed animal around and makes a crying noise. he also plays with the animal like its another cat. i dont know why he does it. but i realy want to find out.

Lassas's avatar

My cat’s been doing this with late at night with socks for years. He is a 15 year old neutered male, has been neutered since he was 2 months old, so I doubt this is a phantom pregnancy! The prey explanation makes a lot of sense to me…

spinalcat's avatar

My cats (male and female littermates, both fixed) carry their toys (mostly made of wool) between the bedroom and the living room every day. The male sometimes meows when doing this, but the female often finds a blanket to knead while purring and holding the toy in her mouth. She can do this for 10 minutes at a time!

catlover2486's avatar

My cat does this with his long feather toy. He only does it at night and cries with it in his mouth. I used to think it was because he wanted to play with it but when I would get close to him he would either cry more and try to walk away or he would just drop it and walk away from it. I’m so glad I read this because I felt bad that he was crying when I was trying to sleep.

DefilerWolf's avatar

I have 2 cats, both of them are adopted. One of them is a tabby and shes so weird. She goes into my room and drags my underwear, socks, shirts, heck I even have a pair of gortex military boots while I was in service and she would drag them around my house. She seems to really like my huge wool socks too (which would make sense cause I always wear them with my boots in any weather to absorb swet). Sometimes I would come home to see all my army and regular cloths all scattered around the house. Every 2 to 4am in the morning she would grab something and drag it to me when I would be home and howl about it. Then when I go up to her to pet her, that tail of hers goes wild as she waves it all over the place, sometimes she takes a swipe at me when I get close to her while she acts like that. Later she will go right back to sleep, and she doesn’t do this with other peoples clothing, just the stuff I have. Probably cause its all mixed with wool winter kit lol

Ceph's avatar

My cat does this too. I have caught him standing on top of my dresser and hooking his paw on a sweater in the open drawer and letting it drop. He then goes about doing the drag and howl routine and leaves clothes all over the place. For my cat, I believe it is seperation anxiety as well.

BijouNRockysMom's avatar

My cat Bijou is 21 and has been playing with socks for about 8 years. We can’t figure it out either and just wake up in the middle of the night and say “oh yeah Bijou is having a sock party for one” and we think its a nesting instinct or maybe kitty alzhiemers. I think that she thinks the socks are kittens because she drags them around the house and then drops them and howls, its almost like a cry. She had 3 dead kittens right when I got her (she was pregnant and very young) and so I think that when she is alone, she grieves her kittens. She just took some out of the laundry basket and ran past me and 5 minutes later, the sock party began. I never thought to look it up on the internet. My bf has had 50 or so cats and he has never heard of anything like this. Oh also, I introduced a male cat to the house on 9–11-01 and that may have triggered some bizarre behavior. Bijou does not get along with Rocky. I enjoyed reading all of the posts… The Shoe one was the best story. I am glad that Bijou is a little thing. She can only carry rolled up socks! ^_^

shayschloss's avatar

My maine coon Sunshine does this with toys, and it is horribly loud. He is a huge cat (30 something pounds) and he has a howl to match. He typically runs with my brother’s super-splash ball, but once I caught him with my moms cigarette in his mouth. He didn’t try to eat it, thank God, but he did not want to let it go. Lol, it looked like he was trying to smoke it…..

wilma's avatar

@shayschloss that sound hilarious!
Welcome to Fluther!

jlynn's avatar

I have a male cat who used to do that with his special blanket. He would drag it around the house making low growling noises. Then he would stop and knead the blanket (still making the noises). Finally, he would lay down with it it still in house mouth and try to “mate” with it. I found that quite bizarre myself.

After he was neutered, he stopped doing this. Occasionally, he still drags the blanket around, but does not “mate” with it.

KristenElizabeth's avatar

My cat, Patches, has one of those feathered toys on the string and wand. I live in a studio apartment, so my cat and I are forcibly close to one another.

Sometimes when I am just falling asleep, she will pick the toy up in her mouth and drag it around the room howling as loud as she possibly can. I have woken up to this before and yelled at her (I am not supposed to have cats and I have neighbors I worry about) and she will just stare at me, walking backwards, howling yet. It’s extremely bizarre! I hate to ruin her fun, but I have gotten out of bed to take the toy back from her.

It was one of the first toys that I bought her when I took her in at a 3 years old. She will even proceed to taking it out of her 5 gallon pal, which is her toy bin, if I put it away at night. She is not likely to bring the toy to me, but I have woken up with the toy draped over me on my bed while she is kneading the pillow next to me and licking it. Haha. Super strange.

God, I love kitties. This thread makes me laugh!

Pooh54's avatar

I am having the same issue with Costello (see my avatar). She is 8 yrs old and about 8–10 months ago, I started finding dish towels, sponges, scarves, gloves, hats and even Snap (my dog) sweater scattered around the house. It happens during the day and at night. Last night kind of freaked me out because I heard this sad, low meow sound and when I walked into the hallway, there was Cos’ holding a dishtowel in her mouth. The towel is twice as long as she is and it is dragging between both the front and back legs. I asked her was she was doing and she dropped it and followed me back to bed, snuggling up next to my pillow, lying butt to butt with Snap. I don’t know what the scent is on the clothing or towels but I was wondering if, even though she is spayed, could she have some health issue going on or just being her normal, weird, adorable self. She is scheduled for her annual checkup next month so I plan on asking my vet but I thought I would just toss it out to see if anyone else has this occurence and I am pleasantly surprised and happy to hear a lot of people are experiencing the same activity. thank you all for your insight.

wilma's avatar

She sounds pretty normal @Pooh54 .
Welcome to Fluther!

Sparkee's avatar

If either my Wife or I leave the house her cat moondance will grab her stuffed bear and carry it around the house and cry/howl very loadly. She will only stop if she sees that one of us is in the house. It’s funny, she will barely let me pet her but when I leave she cries!

Vegan's avatar

“She is like a child to me and is much closer to me than any of my family or husband.
Also, do any of you know what I mean by finding the ‘right’ animal for you, a once-in-a-lifetime complete understanding, just a clicking between you and a cat? My husband and friends don’t understand what I mean…”

Yes I do. I have a cat who is now 15 and going deaf, and she is the most wonderful and closest animal to me. There is a connection I’ve never had before and I’ve had a lot of animals. She is sweet, lovable, attentive and as conscious and human-like as I can possibly explain. She responds, talks and makes little sounds every time I speak to her. She is in whatever room I’m in, sitting on my desk at the computer or on my lap; each night she cuddles up with her head on my shoulder, and she uses both paws to hold my hand, rubs her face on it, and sometimes nibbles on my hand. She falls asleep like that, purring the whole time.

It’s going to be the most miserable time in my life when she’s gone…

Vegan's avatar

I forgot to mention that she does the same loud howling when she drags little papers around the house. She takes papers of varying sizes, including a whole pad of paper, from my office and drops them at various points as she’s coming out of the office and screaming her head off. It’s a loud and mournful sound. I think it’s the prey instinct. “I found something! I’m bringing something!” It may also be a warning to others to stay away.

Occasionally if it’s a small, crumbled piece of paper she deposits it in her water bowl. This part I don’t understand. But it’s Ethel, and it’s one of many things she does that makes her wonderful.

Response moderated (Writing Standards)
RedMarie's avatar

I love all these tales!! I have a 10yr old female spayed Tuxedo cat who loves socks. At any time during day or night, we hear a throaty, deep yeowl from the kitchen/basement. She emerges from one of the doorways, empty mouthed, and trots towards us when we look at her. She never wants us to see her doing this. She’s always howled to ‘locate’ us at night; she’ll howl & only come to the bedroom when we howl to her in return. (My avatar is her, we have 2 other cats as well, but she is the oldest)

julie72's avatar

Our cats do similar things. We find that they are lonely because we’re not up and around with them. Usually they just want us to “find” them and call them to us. They want in the room where their family is. I think this may be the case with yours as well.Especially because of the kneading. She may associate the towel with you because it was something associated you and its fuzzy like her mother.( again the kneading.)

bridget12's avatar

My 4 year old female cat does this… she was just spayed a couple of months ago (she had three litters previous to this)... she has never done this before getting spayed, but every day (night or day) she takes the towels, sponges, out of the kitchen and carries them around, also gets into the nightstands in my room and takes socks out and carries them around, sometimes i can tell when she is about to take something because she cries right before taking it. It drives me insane running around the house picking up all these things. I wish I had a clue why.

Nanax10's avatar

I have a Norwegian Forest cat, neutered male age 7. When he was a year old or so, I started finding towels or fleece blankets in the floor, twisted into ropes…Living alone, I was puzzled, totally. Then one day I was quietly sewing in a room that overlooked the family room, next to a perforated divider. He didn’t know I was there. He jumped off the sofa with a fleece throw in his mouth, straddled it and began what can only be described as a dance! He stomped in circles, frequently pausing to “mark time” like a marching band; he proceeded to continue in a 10 foot circle, for 20 minutes or so, until the throw was twisted into one of the “ropes” I had been finding in the house! I was dumfounded; and though he has continued this performance with some frequency, I have never been able to figure out what his motive or reason is. He has a number of other quirks, namely eating hard candy, especially mints. Anyone who sets a purse on the floor in my house will soon have a cat butt sticking out of it, as he mines for Tic-Tacs. Cough drops or Starlight mints he unwraps from his hideout under the desk, and I retrieve wrappers from there regularly. He parks himself in a doorway until one of the dogs wants to pass, and stands his ground until they are pacing and crying to pass- when they make a run for it, he pounces like a leopard on a zebra, and chews them mercilessly while they try to shake him off, crying pitifully. And to think I was worried about a having a cat with 3 pit bulls! Poor puppies. They’ve survived 7 years of this misery. As I am not generally a cat person, I thought this was just “what cats do”, until visitors started bringing friends to see him in action. He receives visitors often while sitting in front of the TV upright, like a fat, furry old geezer. I leave “Animal Planet” on to entertain him.

CrazyCatOwner's avatar

Our cat does a similar thing, but with socks and she meows. She’s 10 n only had 1 litter 7 years ago, and of course is fixed now. She just started doing this a year ago. We wonder if she’s having flashbacks of the kittens. It’s funny, but weird. She is on arthritis medicine, n hmm maybe that has something to do with it…

jumbot's avatar

We had a dog that passed away our cat was 9 years old and they lived together their entire life. My male cat claimed the dogs favorite toy after she passed. He carried it around and cried all the time. One day we came home to find the cat laying in the middle of a circle of dog toys. Why he put them in a circle is beyond me almost looked cultish.Our dog passed a year and a half ago and yesterday I came home to find our cat had passed too, he was only 11 years old, however he looked like he died in his sleep with the dog toy beside him. I think he died of a broken heart as it seemed like he was never the same after our dog passed. The behaviour of carrying around a dog toy seemed to me almost like broken heart or seperation disorder.

wilma's avatar

I’m so sorry for your loss @jumbot . It sure does seem that your cat mourned for his lost companion. I guess they grieve too.
Welcome to Fluther!

Momlovesthecat's avatar

Ive asked everyone about this. I have an 18 month old male that I found in a parking lot when he was est 4 weeks old. I bottle fed him and would put him in the pocket of my bathrobe when I needed to put him down. Since he was about 9 or 10 months old, he drags the belt to my bathrobe around the house to wherever he goes. He brings it into the bedroom every night and “cries” and talks to it for about 10 minutes, then he sleeps beside it. The next morning, he will drag it into the living room for the day. I equate it to his baby blanket or that it somehow offers security and comfort from when he was a kitten in my pocket. It’s the only item he talks to. He has been neutered, and I’ve never thought it was a sexual thing of any sort. It’s just very sweet and obviously meaningful to him. He will also hold the edge of the robe in his mouth and knead it, again doesn’t seem sexual just comforting. I leave that robe on the stool so he can sleep and knead on it. I’m amazed this is so common! No one I have told has ever heard of it. Glad I found this site!

wilma's avatar

I think you are probably right @Momlovesthecat .
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sumtopa's avatar

Wow I also had no idea how common this was. I thought my cats were the only ones! I have 2 female cats- both spayed.

I actually have videos of them doing this here:

One of them has always carried 1 particular stuffed animal around the house (usually at night) and will cry the sweetest yet very loud cry. She will then drop it next to you and start purring. Or will drop it in her cat bed and go to sleep with it next to her. We thought it meant she must have had kittens once (we don’t know her completehistory) and missed them.

Our other cat will carry strings in her mouth and howl (not very sweet sounding—really annoyed sounding actually) and will squat as if she is trying to poop but nothing will come out. It’s the weirdest thing!!! I figured this meant she really wanted to play and maybe her bowels were all worked up because she was irritated, but when I go to play with her (once she drops the string) she just sits and watches or will lie down and ignore the playing attempt.

The other thing the 2nd cat does with the string if she doesn’t drop it next to you is she will take it and stick it in her water dish.

Almost weekly we find a sopping wet string or play toy floating in the cat water dish.


wilma's avatar

Interesting @sumtopa . Welcome to Fluther.

Bgreen4's avatar

I have a male cat that does this all of the time! His choice is a fuzzy purple pillow and an occasional stuffed animal!! He drags it into our living room and kneads it while making a funny howl/meow noise and will also stop if he notices anyone looking at him!

nonblonde10's avatar

I have three cats, an 11 year-old Male/Neutered Maine Coon, a 12 year-old Female/Spayed Siamese, and a 13 year-old Male/Neutered Tonkinese. They are all beloved and all have their funny little “quirks”. I was so surprised to hear of so many other people dealing with this dragging, howling, and humping of items. My 13 year-old Tonkinese has done this since about the age of two. It started with my missing of “large” slippers, stuffed animals, and anything fleecy. Our home was three levels and eventually I caught him waddling with one of my “missing” slippers between his legs. He is a big cat but carrying a slipper that goes past my ankle was quite a feat. He would carry items and howl at the same time; sometimes carrying them to me but he did not want to be touched. Usually, he eventually “makes bread” on the item then his tail goes quirky and his rear end gets really stiff then the “attempted sexual assault” ensues. He definitely is attempting to have sex because we see his “penis” come out. I felt bad for so long that he was “suffering” for some reason..(needed some type of sexual release) but the vet said, “no” although he admitted he had NEVER HEARD OF THIS BEHAVIOR!! My Tonkinese has his own toybox of items he likes to carry; usually at night. He will even carry extremely large items up to three pounds onto the bed…jumping with them. Our home has an open soffet over the cabinets and I was cleaning up there the initial year it started and I hit the “jackpot”. It seems he was carrying the items into the kitchen, jumping onto the counter with the item…be it a stuffed animal or anything fleece..then onto the top of the refrigerator and finally getting to “K2”...or the top of the soffet and seven feet+ in the air. I have found a plethera of missing items and also have come home to find all three cats “hanging” out on top of the soffet. With his age being 13 I do worry he will hurt himself. We have since blocked off the soffet but he goes all over the house doing this. At night he will howl and bring the item to bed. I just let him howl, get comfy and relax. Boy….I would be exhausted if I was him. And this occurs on a daily basis and sometimes three to four times a day. Oh, the only comment the vet had after I showed him a video of my Tonkinese’s actions was, “Possibly when he was neutered a small amout of tissue of his reproductive parts was left inside him. The only way to know would to do an MRI and remove it”. I thought that was the most stupid response I have ever heard. And I am absolutely positive he has other “patients” who do this…. I am almost 99% positive it has to do with behavior….not “leftover” tissue. Thanks for your sharing…..I thought I was the only one… other people understand what I am talking about. And I can relax and laugh a bit…..I just was always worried he was “suffering”. I am just going to tell myself from now on he is just a “dirty old man cat” and having the time of his life!.

Catanswers's avatar

I have 2 cats that hate each other. My white cat Tom we found on the street and he has a very ,very bad habit of hunting socks, towels, potholders, etc . While he hunts he sounds like he is dying of screaming. They hunt because if you dont have mice they feel they need to hunt still. They “howl” because they feel anxious and are calling to other cats. Hope it helped!

spinner86's avatar

my cat Kiesa does something really similar. she goes into my room and drags my laundry out into the living room…socks, shirts, shorts, boxers, you name it. She meows really differently while doing this. I have no clue why she does this. She’s been doing this ever since i moved into my house.

Pooh54's avatar

@jumbot my condolences for your loss. I truly believe that cats and dogs who grow up together form a bond beyond our human comprehension. When my cat, Pooh, disappeared during a rainstorm, our dog, Tigger, paced the house for about a week whining and constantly going in and out of the doggie door. I believe that she was waiting for Pooh to come home. Unfortunately she didn’t. We adopted little Roo (Rooster) and Tigger watched over her constantly as well as Pooh’s sister, Pockets. For being a pit-boxer Tigger was the mother of all mothers to these cats. When Tigger passed, Pockets was the only one left and while she lived almost 9 years longer, you could see that she really missed Tigger, her mom. Snap, another boxer, came into our lives and Pockets always try to snuggle with her like she did with Tigger but Snap is not a cat ‘snuggler’. my current cats, Abbott and Costello, are sickly little things but Cos tends to carry a dishtowel around in her mouth. In the winter time, she loves my fleece hats which she carries around, and drops it at my feet. When I pick it up and put it on my lap, she jumps up and lays on it. Guess I should turn the heat up a little. :) No matter what they do—you gotta love ‘em. They are just too cute not to. Both cats and dogs.

Pooh54's avatar

@sumtopa Are floaters interesting? Mine are bread ties or the occasional piece of paper. Sometimes it is a piece of a cat or dog blanket that someone has chewed off. I thought Abbott was going to drink the bowl dry trying to get a dead fly that Cos put in it. They are entertaining in their quirky ways.

rjinga's avatar

my male (deaf) white cat, does the same thing with plastic bags, the plastic bag with coffee filters in it etc. The other day I watched him go out into the garage 3 different times, and one after another carried back in his “prey” yowling all the way. He dropped the bags by the front door area. He usually drops whatever is in his mouth when he sees me and stops yowling, and then his chirp/meow/cry is his “look at me cry/meow” much higher pitched.

I never considered the hunting aspect of it…it’s a new behavior for him…he’s mainly and inside cat and only goes outside on a lead/leash and with direct supervision (he’d run off and be defenseless since he is totally deaf).

richie1677's avatar

The kitty is lonlely and wants attention!

richie1677's avatar

My Tiger Tabby drags a shoe lace around the house meowing very loud at the same time. He will drop it near you and meow very loud until you acknowledge him. Once he sees you have checked out his lace he is cool. I believe this is his prey. He has caught it and has brought it to you so you can utilize it. He has brought you a gift of simulated kill just as you provide his or her food or prey each day. I believe the towel is also prey and you need to acknowledge this and the cat will go on to his or her next mission. You will also notice the cat does not want to play with the towel just like a cat won’t play with dead prey but will certainly eat it.

raymond52's avatar

My 4 month old ferel kitten, carried a dish towel into my bedroom and stuffed it into the cloth on bottom of my box springs

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