Cat adopts stuffed animal. Weird?
January 19, 2010 1:43 PM   Subscribe

My cat has grown attached to a stuffed animal. Specifically, a raccoon. What instincts are at work here?

My awesome cat decided to make herself at home in my life 5 years ago. Before then, she was my roommate's cat and didn't adjust well to the living arrangements (2 other, more dominant cats and a generally neglectful owner). When she was lonely / depressed at night, she wailed. We discovered that she had adopted this raccoon stuffed animal that was laying around. We determined this when we noticed that the raccoon's ears were wet with saliva. It also eerily moved from place to place.

When I moved out, I took the cat and her raccoon with me since she chose me as her rightful slave (oh god crazy cat person language coming out. Apologies all around). We've lived a happy life together since. She gets bounds of attention and doesn't wail at night.

She still carries her raccoon around from room to room, choosing her favorite spots to deposit this thing. I once found it perfectly balanced on her water cup, but I've only ever seen it in her mouth once in 5 years. The funny thing is she seems to get embarrassed about it when I try to interact with it. She refuses to look at it. (I no longer try and just allow her her oddities as she so kindly does mine).

This question pretty much exposes both me and my cat as crazy, but I'm curious. Has anybody else out there seen this kind of behavior in a cat? Are her maternal instincts coming out or is it loneliness? I've thought about introducing her to a playmate, but she's so submissive when it comes to other cats that it's always ended in sheer terror for her. Those with eccentric cat behavior stories, out with it!
posted by inkytea to Pets & Animals (55 answers total) 66 users marked this as a favorite
My cat also had a stuffed raccoon when she was younger - 2 to 3 years old. She would wrap her paws around it and lick/bite it's head. She eventually wore a hole in it. We had a second one, exactly the same, and she took that one also.

We recently bought her a new raccoon and she hasn't really played with it.
posted by I am the Walrus at 1:48 PM on January 19, 2010 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Cats are weirdos. Don't try to find logic in their behavior.

One of my cats used to carry around a checker she got from my Connect Four game when I was a kid.
posted by amro at 1:49 PM on January 19, 2010 [36 favorites]

My cat has two small stuffed animals, and regularly steals others from my daughter. When she has one in her mouth and is moving it, she howls. She leaves them mostly near her own dishes, and on our pillows.

I think they're surrogate prey, like dead mice that an outdoor cat might leave on a doorstep in order to provide food for its human family. So when I throw one back into the living room, I always say "Thank you, kitty, it was delicious!"
posted by gnomeloaf at 1:50 PM on January 19, 2010 [8 favorites]

One of the cats in our house used to "have relations" with a gopher puppet. We'd regularly catch her mounting and/or kneading the puppet. It did strike us as unusual the first few times we saw it, because, well...female cat. NTTAWWT, of course.
posted by QuantumMeruit at 1:54 PM on January 19, 2010 [1 favorite]

Best answer: My girlfriend and I got a second cat seven months after our first. Bergamot, the older one, is a very timid cat around strangers, and reacted badly to Maggie at first. But after going through the proper procedure for introducing a new cat to the apartment (a week apart on opposite sides of the door, swapping toys, etc.), they're thick as thieves. They sleep cuddled up together. They groom each other obsessively. We actually can't separate them anymore because they'll sit on opposite sides of the door until the other one comes out.

They don't actually play together a lot. They just love having the other around. So whether or not your idea that the raccoon is company is correct, consider a second cat for company, and stick to the recognized procedure for introducing them. Timidity, properly handled, isn't a barrier to two cats making friends, and cats are generally much happier with another cat around if they get along well.
posted by fatbird at 1:55 PM on January 19, 2010 [1 favorite]

I think it's also a surrogate play thing. Moving the prey around so no one can steal it. I thin it's like "Hey, based on the size and shape of that thing, I don't think it belongs there. I'll just get that for you." I used to have a pair of kittens who would make sure that no predators got at the figurines in our Christmas manger scene by picking them up and moving them elsewhere.
posted by amethysts at 1:56 PM on January 19, 2010 [3 favorites]

Some cats just latch on to or obsess over random things sometimes. My own cat has this bizarre fascination with emery boards -- particularly used ones.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 2:00 PM on January 19, 2010 [2 favorites]

I have caught my cat cleaning a cat puppet. I have no idea whether she recognizes that the puppet is cat-shaped (she HATES all other cats), but she has not expressed interest in my stuffed bears.

I'm glad to hear that it's not just her!
posted by casualinference at 2:00 PM on January 19, 2010

I'm with amro, cats are weirdos. Growing up I had a cat that hated a grover doll and would attack it furiously. My current cat Rhubarb likes to sleeps on my head (both when I'm in bed and when I sit in an easy chair), plays with a shark beanie baby, and loves to wedge just its head in between my couch cushions. You just never can tell with cats.
posted by gwenlister at 2:01 PM on January 19, 2010 [3 favorites]

Best answer: One of my cats adopted a feather boa, which she would drag around to a cozy spot and then proceed to "groom" it. She eventually groomed it into a ratty string with a few feathers still clinging on.

I think if it's medium-sized toy and you're seeing (evidence of) grooming and moving from place to place, she's probably thinking of it as a surrogate kitten. Mamma cats don't like people messing with their babies!

Same cat will also occasionally get latched onto smaller toys, bits of plush fabric, etc. The behavior is somewhat different: she'll toss it about and bite and rabbit-kick it, then when it is well and fully "defeated," she'll parade it around making a low meowing sort of howl. This is definitely more prey-like behavior.

The weirdest thing I've ever seen her do, though, it attempt to groom our gerbil. It's tricky to get her to see the gerbil in a "kitten" frame of mind rather than "prey"--if she's seen it running back and forth on the couch, for example, it becomes intriguing-track-object. But if you hold the gerbil still in your hand and the cat comes up, she'll do the head-butt/scent marking thing on it and then sometimes start licking its head--in a grooming sort of way, not in a U-haz-a-flavor sort of way.
posted by SomeTrickPony at 2:08 PM on January 19, 2010 [10 favorites]

My cat does this with the brightly colored, fuzzy socks that I wear to sleep. We call them her babies but I think she thinks they're prey.

Once, I woke up because she stole the sock straight off my foot. With her bitey teeth.
posted by sugarfish at 2:08 PM on January 19, 2010 [11 favorites]

My cat has relations with our sneakers.

Nthing weirdos.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 2:09 PM on January 19, 2010 [5 favorites]

Yup, weirdos. All of them. There's no figuring them out. I had a cat growing up that took it upon herself to clean up my brothers toys. Just about anything he left outside (that she could physically hold in her mouth), the cat would drag back in and just leave about in the playroom. Saved my brother from my dad's wrath a good couple of times (and the toys from being mulched in the lawn mower).

Other cats in my family's care have found comforting obsessions with tiny golf pencils, tie wraps, coat hangers and bows stolen from wrapped presents. Yup, for most of December my brothers cat can be found dragging around a bow. Makes Christmas interesting, to say the least.
posted by cgg at 2:17 PM on January 19, 2010 [1 favorite]

One of my current cats made best friends with an Eeyore as a kitten. It was twice the size of him and he'd drag it determinedly by its scruff so he could snuggle with it in his favorite spots. I think he was lonely. Eventually he outgrew it and showed no further interest in the Eeyore.

My parents had a cat who would "mother" beanie babies. Endlessly, and sometimes a little aggressively if you tried to get near her "kittens"!
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 2:23 PM on January 19, 2010

I think the surrogate prey theory is accurate.

One of my roommate's cats does this every night with some of his toys; at night he'd cry, then run up the stairs with a toy, purring as he dropped it off for her in front of her bedroom.

I knew I was accepted into his bizarre little kitty world when he started leaving toys for me.
posted by spinifex23 at 2:28 PM on January 19, 2010 [2 favorites]

A friend's cat had a stuffed Garfield doll that it would pounce on, sink its teeth into its neck, give it a few shakes, then drag it up to the top of the stairs. Then it would push it off the top step, chase it down to the bottom and hump the living shit out of it. Kinda creepy.
posted by electroboy at 2:40 PM on January 19, 2010 [20 favorites]

Seconding that cats are weirdos. I had a cat growing up named Charley that became very attached to a stuffed bear that I brought home from the hospital after minor surgery. He, too, would bite, claw, and kick it while simultaneously hugging/attacking it. My current cat Gatsby carries around large Lego pieces while meowing at the same time.

They're just weirdos.
posted by ThaBombShelterSmith at 2:43 PM on January 19, 2010

One of our cats has a stuffed orange mouse that he does something similar with. We tried rotating it out for a little bit, but (not nec. related) he developed an anxiety disorder.

Another cat of ours likes to knead and "grind" on our son's giant plush dog. Cats are weird.
posted by drezdn at 2:47 PM on January 19, 2010

the kneading and grinding is kitten behaviour to get their mum to lactate isn't it?
posted by A189Nut at 2:58 PM on January 19, 2010

Yeah, cats are weird. One of mine has an obsession with anything mesh or net-like. Screens, avocado and fruit sacks, shower washy thingies. If it's got netting, she will make sure every part of her body has rubbed up on it and her tongue would probably fall off from licking it if I didn't put a stop to the madness. She also has an obsession with hair bands, which she carries around the house hanging from her mouth, while muffling little meows for attention. I'm not exactly sure what to do with that.

(In case you're wondering, all my shower thingies and fruit sacks are way out of her obsessive reach.)

That raccoon is probably her little friend. Or dead enemy.
posted by iamkimiam at 3:14 PM on January 19, 2010 [3 favorites]

I bought a stuffed bunny for my rambunctious kitten because the mellow kitten was starting to show bruises. It's the perfect size for her to tackle and pretend-kill, and I have no doubt that that's what she's doing. She often leaves it on my pillow when she's re-killed it. So I think it's normal.

What's not so normal is that rambunctious kitty also has a girl/boyfriend that she wuuubbbbbbs. It's a rubber band.
posted by mudpuppie at 3:27 PM on January 19, 2010 [3 favorites]

Our oldest drags around the wife's badger-hair makeup brush thingies. Our youngest hides our socks.
posted by The Potate at 3:28 PM on January 19, 2010 [1 favorite]

Weirdos, the lot. One of mine is obsessed with plastic. If you leave a plastic bag lying around, she'll have a party licking and nipping at it. Fortunately, she doesn't seem to actually eat them.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 3:42 PM on January 19, 2010 [1 favorite]

Also, our other cat, Eli, has a SERIOUS thing for stickers and other sticky objects (Tape, lint roller, etc). The doc says it's fine, so he gets some tape to lick every few weeks, otherwise we have to store our tape in the closet. Also, he licks the shit out of our Netflix envelopes. Weird.
posted by ThaBombShelterSmith at 3:56 PM on January 19, 2010

Not surprisingly, the behavior isn't limited to cats. My daughter's stuffed animals litter every room of the house, yet our dog, a shepherd mix, has never touched one. This past Xmas, we jokingly stuck a stuffed moose in the dog's stocking. When we presented it to her, it was love at first sight. She carried it everywhere, sleept with it, used it as a napping pillow, cleaned and nuzzled the thing, stared at it for extended periods with eyes glazed over and a happy, panting smile, and occassionally begged us to retrieve it.

I assumed the behavior is maternal; however the theory was challenged over the weekend when a seam on the moose's chest unraveled and some of the stuffing poked through the tear. Dog tenderly licked around the tear for a few minutes, and then, without warning, pinned down the moose's head and legs and buried her muzzle into the wound with a loud RIIIIIP. With stuffing splattering across the living room, Dog disembowled the moose in seconds until nothing remained but a limp, soggy, clothy shell.

I re-stuffed and sewed up the moose, and the two are peacefully least for the moment. I'll be sleeping with one eye open, however.
posted by prinado at 3:58 PM on January 19, 2010 [18 favorites]

Our bengal's favorite toy is an unused tampon sealed in plastic. He drowns small mouse toys in his water cup. He also makes off with lip gloss and small cosmetic articles. We aren't sure where he takes them but the pile must be pretty damn big by now. Weirdo.
posted by BorgLove at 4:05 PM on January 19, 2010 [3 favorites]

ditto for "cats are weird." I once had a cat who would steal my dirty socks. She had zero interest in them if they were clean, but every week when I did the laundry there were more odd socks. Until one day I went to vacuum under the bed, and there they all were- like 20 freakin odd, dirty socks.
posted by vortex genie 2 at 4:16 PM on January 19, 2010 [4 favorites]

Why assume that there's an instinctual basis for the behavior? Maybe it just feels/tastes/smells especially nice.

We can't have Christmas ribbon in the house because it will get eaten and unpleasantness ensues. The cat also loves (in a non-eaty way) that plastic lanyard stuff that kids make keychains from. My first cat loved to lick plastic bags; I'm relieved that this is not an issue with current cat as that sound is HORRIBLE.
posted by Morrigan at 4:16 PM on January 19, 2010

Best answer: Since we are piling on the weird cat behavior.. my aunt has a cat that also has a stuffed pet/baby/prey. Same thing... my aunt has only seen the cat actually carrying her stuffed toy a handful of times, but it moves around alright.

My own cat also does the bag licking, window licking and photograph licking thing. He would do it for hours if I let him. Plus, he has stolen so many of my chapsticks that I am scared to eventually find the pile he has accumulated - it must be huge.
posted by batonthefueltank at 4:46 PM on January 19, 2010 [1 favorite]

My 16-year-old tuxedo cat wasn't weaned properly and is into humping people - he'll start kneading furiously, purring, and kicking his hind legs. It's cute, but becomes significantly less endearing if you catch a glimpse of his erect pink penis. Bad kitteh!
posted by porn in the woods at 4:50 PM on January 19, 2010 [2 favorites]

My cat (Cat, the cat, a big Maine Coon) had a Blanket. This was Cat's blanket. You did not touch the blanket or try to wash it or look at her funny when she moved it from room to room. It was Cat's. She only started doing this after she had kittens, so I imagine it was some misplaced material thing combined with an actual security blanket issue. She liked it and when we tried to put it away, she'd find a way to get it out. Cats *love* routines and familiarity, so having the same thing to sleep on/with PLUS being able to carry it around with her must have been some huge kitty bonus in her mind.
posted by The Whelk at 4:50 PM on January 19, 2010 [1 favorite]

Also, as I've mentioned before, this is the cat that would bring me "prey" she found around the neighborhood, like cigarettes.

My Cat was an enabler.
posted by The Whelk at 4:56 PM on January 19, 2010 [7 favorites]


My youngest cat is a neurotic chewer and is particularly "chewy" after she's been held and cuddled for a while (which she loves and will aggressively pursue). For a while, she was obsessed with my husband's keychain, which had about six small plastic charms shaped like feet (he won them in a walking program at his school). Every time I tried to set her down after she'd been cuddling with me at the computer desk, she'd very casually pick up the little feet and walk off with them, unless she was immediately captured and the feet taken away. I eventually had to hide them.

Since then, she's taken to a small stuffed cat toy shaped like a bird and has chewed one of its wings off.
posted by dlugoczaj at 5:38 PM on January 19, 2010 [1 favorite]

Best answer: This sounds like one of those questions where hearing the same thing from a bunch of people is helpful in answering the question.

So yeah, one of my cats has a stuffed bunny rabbit that he carries around like a teddy bear. He's careful not to let me see him doing that, but it always ends up wherever he settled down for the night, and I've seen him carrying it up the stairs a few times. He's had this thing since he was a few weeks old apparently, and now he's about seven years old, so I figure it's like a security blanket kind of thing for him.
posted by FishBike at 6:01 PM on January 19, 2010 [1 favorite]

Best answer: This is the cutest thread i've ever seen in my many, many years on askme - squee indeed.

Ahem. Tonight in honor of this thread I am busting out some stuffies to see if my kitteh can find a friend that haz a flavor. Thank yew.
posted by tristeza at 6:18 PM on January 19, 2010 [3 favorites]

I once tried to give my cat a stuffed panda bear toy to play with. She backed away, tail puffed up, hissing. She wouldn't calm down until we hid it. So I guess she's not the materal type or something.
posted by mai at 6:36 PM on January 19, 2010 [3 favorites]

Best answer: This is enough of a known phenomenon that the cat in the comic strip "Get Fuzzy", Bucky, has a little stuffed bear named Smacky. Voila (cute).
posted by amtho at 6:48 PM on January 19, 2010

My cat jumps and knocks magnets off of the refrigerator and hides (hoards?) them under my bed.
I think she's absolutely adorable and not weird at all!
posted by Linnee at 7:02 PM on January 19, 2010

Best answer: Ah yes, that would be a manifestation of the feline instinct to be absolutely batshit insane. And I say this as a lifetime cat-lover with two current batshitinsane cats of my own.

My shoes mysteriously travel around my apartment at night. I can only blame the cats, although I:

A) have no idea why they would do such a thing, and

B) have never caught them displaying the least bit of interest in my shoes.

I'm pretty sure cats have their own secret online forum* where they exchange tips for crazyass shit to do just to keep us on our toes.

* I cannot resist naming it AskMeow. I'm sorry.
posted by ErikaB at 7:14 PM on January 19, 2010 [14 favorites]

I have never seen this before, and it's one of the cutest things I have ever heard of.

It sounds to me like your kitty is lonely and wants a kitty friend.
posted by Lobster Garden at 7:34 PM on January 19, 2010

And so begins the telling of the story about Emperor and Zoomie The Alligator....

(names changed to protect the innocent.)

Zoomie was a LARGE lilac purple colored plush beanie stuffed dog toy that my ex brought home one day from Petco - que New Best Friend! (and fuck buddy? I know. I know. but this is a true story, folks.)

Anywho, Emperor would drag Zoomie from room to room. Emperor would drop Zoomie at our feet and demand attention for him and his pal. Emperor loved him some Zoomie! A little too much, perhaps, because at some point Emperor's Zoomie repertoire included dropping Zoomie and humping him. Usually, in front of dinner guests. While we were eating.

Zoomie began spending a lot of time up on top of the fridge, out of Emperor's reach. Then, I started to notice crusty white stains on Zoomie. Yes folks, between Zoomie and Emperor, it was like that.

Eventually Emperor got a real live Empress, and they were very happy together. Other toys came and went, and we all forgot about Zoomie.

One day, many years in the future, it was Emperor's time to go. He had a stroke 2 years earlier and I was no longer with my ex, or even in the same country. Before the stroke, I had fantasies Emperor and his consort would join me abroad, sadly, this never happened. One day some workmen came by and accidently left a window open.... and so went Emperor to kitty heaven. Because Emperor fell onto a little grass "courtyard" between buildings that was completely unreachable, my ex performed the last rites by dropping a few dozen roses and Zoomie down to keep Emperor company.

2 months later, Empress, although very young, died from grief.

1 year later, I went home to visit. As we walked through the apartment, my ex recounted the story of Emperor's passing.

We stopped in the kitchen, and for some weird reason I reached waaay back on top of the fridge - and behold! THERE WAS ZOOMIE!!!

When I pulled him out, I said, "I thought you dropped Zoomie out the window?" To which my ex replied, " Oh. That must have been Moo Cow."

Zoomie has since been dry cleaned, and along with my favorite photo of Emperor, has a cherished spot in my home.

The End.
posted by jbenben at 8:03 PM on January 19, 2010 [6 favorites]

My 13 year old tabby has a doll that she likes to snuggle with and bite when she's not busy begging us for food. She also gets very embarrassed and stares if I look at her while she and the doll are rolling around on the floor together.
posted by reenum at 8:11 PM on January 19, 2010

Response by poster: Great answers, keep 'em coming! I was kinda fishing for catshitinsane stories, but I'm surprised there are so many involving stuffed animals, and in such a similar way.

fatbird: My best friend's cat is very, very similar in temperament to my cat. One of the motivations for ever living together would be to introduce our cats to each other. But if we ever moved, they'd have to separate which would be heartbreaking. I'm kinda geographically all over the place, so I'm not in a place where I'd be comfortable getting another cat. To be honest, I don't know if I could love another little weirdo as much as I love my raccoon-dragger.

amtho: I love Get Fuzzy but hadn't seen that, thanks. I've heard about dogs having comfort objects, but somehow it's not something you hear about in cats. Maybe because of the secretive behavior surrounding it. I'm sure they're glad it's not something advertised on pet store commercials.

gwenlister: That's funny about the Grover doll. Maybe it looks like a sickly cat? Do cats have their own uncanny valley?

More weirdo cat stories!
posted by inkytea at 8:21 PM on January 19, 2010

I have a sock hunter... she will carry a sock from the bedroom yowling to let me know I am safe and that the socks cannot get me. Sometimes I come home and find 10 or 12 socks littered around the house.

Oh, and only clean socks.... I don't have the heart to put all the socks in the drawer when they come out of the laundry as she loves the thrill of the sock hunt so.

She did this when she lived with my best friend and I was actually thrilled to see her start doing the same thing after she'd been with me for a little over a week.

She's not really playing though....that's what q-tips are for.

But yeah...weird alright.
posted by Weaslegirl at 8:53 PM on January 19, 2010 [1 favorite]

Might be sexin' it up like my former cat, Chewy, did with his bear in this candid camera footage.
posted by MsMolly at 10:58 PM on January 19, 2010 [4 favorites]

I don't think it's loneliness. My two cats (mother and daughter) each have a toy that they love. For one it's a squirrel and for the other it's one of those little promotional 'bugs' you get given - a little ball of fluff with feet and a ribbon tail with the name of the business on it - in this case Specsavers (the bug is also wearing glasses).

Each cat loves her favourite toy but takes no notice of the other cat's object of desire. The toys appear to be either played with as prey (stalked, pounced on, tossed about) or 'loved', (cuddling, washing, the cat falling asleep embracing her toy).

Like your cat, they feign disinterest if I try to engage them with the toy, and act as if embarrassed if they are 'caught' with it. If Bailey wakes up cuddling her squirrel and I'm there to see her, she'll almost throw it aside and look at me with this "I don't know how that thing got in bed with me" expression on her face. Confession time: sometimes I tuck the squirrel in with her when she's asleep just to see her do this when she wakes up because it's so fricking funny.

So yeah, cats are just weird. Weird, weird, weird.

But, I have to say, we need pictures of your cat and her raccoon, or it didn't happen.
posted by essexjan at 2:00 AM on January 20, 2010 [2 favorites]

I once had a cat who would steal my dirty socks

My cat will wake us up howling in the middle of the night when she finds one of my son's dirty socks. I think it's more of a love than hate relationship between Franny and the sock.
posted by Obscure Reference at 6:50 AM on January 20, 2010

Yeah, weird. When he was young my old cat, Graham Chapman, took my ex-wife's stuffed Curious George doll and kneaded, cleaned, and humped him. It was our signal that he was ready to say goodbye to his testicles. We also hid Curious George and for the next week or so, Graham searched for him in earnest.
posted by plinth at 7:03 AM on January 20, 2010 [1 favorite]

My question was slightly different but I got some great stories. Cats weird and mine still loves his bear.
posted by pointystick at 7:20 AM on January 20, 2010

SUCH weirdos!

One of my cats, Smacky, constantly toted around a small stuffed frog. If he wasn't actively canoodling with Mr. Froggy, the frog could be found next to or in the dry food dish or in Smacky's bed. This went on for a couple of years, until the morning we found Mr. Froggy face-down in the water dish and decided it was time for a replacement. The new froggy has not been nearly as popular.

I once had a cat who would steal my dirty socks.

Smacky also does this. If we leave the house for any period of time, he starts dragging socks out of the laundry hamper and leaving them by the stairs. You can tell how long we've been gone by how many socks are left. When we go on vacation (we have someone come in daily to feed them), there is a pile of socks left for us. It's clearly some bizarre feline time-telling system he has developed.
posted by tastybrains at 10:08 AM on January 20, 2010 [2 favorites]

My cat, The Kitten (11 years old now) has two stuffed friends, Sheepy and Fishy.

Sheepy is made from real wool, and The Kitten loves to lie in the middle of the living room floor and hold Sheepy with her two front paws, alternately licking it/rubbing it around her jawline and then suddenly ripping the SHIT out of it with her two back paws. We have narration that goes with it: "She loves the sheepy, she loves the sheepy -- No! Kill the sheepy! She hates it! Kill it! Kill it de -- She loves the sheepy" and so on.

Fishy is her prey.
Most nights after we've gone off to bed (and after an appropriate amount of silence from us) The Kitten gets Fishy and carries him around the house until she finds just the right spot to lay him out, and then she parades back and forth in front of him for up to five minutes, bellowing her victory at The Great Hunt.
A couple times one or the other of us has had to come back out of the bedroom just as she's about to start her ritual and she chokes off mid-bellow and stares at us like, "WTF?! This is not how this works!" and waits patronizingly for us to get back to bed.

Fishy is strictly ignored the rest of the time.
posted by Brody's chum at 12:07 PM on January 20, 2010 [16 favorites]

Nthing the "cats are weirdos" thing. I had a neutered male black cat (since he was a kitten) who grew very attached to a black-cat glove puppet in later life. He used to hump it regularly, and would often fall asleep on it afterwards. (I wish I could find the photo I have of him in mid-hump.) He had no shame about it, and would often stare at me in a defiant fashion while he was doing it.

I also had a female neutered tabby who had never had kittens, but who carried one of my furry-edged slippers around the house from room to room and groomed it. I'd wash it every few weeks when it had got too drooly and the trim was coated in cat-spit.

One of my current cats humped a sheepskin rug rather vigorously when we first got the rug, getting his little pink kitty lipstick out on a regular basis. He now just grooms it, but it's too big for him to carry it around.
posted by vickyverky at 12:08 PM on January 20, 2010

Counter-example (humping-free):

When my wife was sick once, many years ago, I bought her a stuffed animal as a "you poor thing" present: a rabbit, about the size and girth of our cat.

A day or two later, on a whim, we placed the rabbit on one of the cat's favorite perches, the top of one of those two-story kitty houses intended for clawing and clambering. We were careful to do this when the cat was in another room. We left it there and waited for the cat to notice.

The cat eventually strolled in, happened to glance at the rabbit, froze, and fled in terror. She refused to come out for several minutes after we put the rabbit away.

In her defense, it was fairly realistic-looking.

So if you want to ingratiate your cat to a stuffed toy, don't leave it anywhere that might provoke territorialism. On the other hand, if you want a good laugh at your cat's expense, do what we did.
posted by AugieAugustus at 12:53 PM on January 20, 2010 [1 favorite]

I'm not totally convinced that these various weird behaviors are the result of loneliness. We have a pair of male cats who get along really well with each other, engaging in regular grooming, playing, and peaceful cohabiting. I think that cats are just strange beasts that tend to have compulsive behavior.

Our otherwise totally well adjusted older cat humps our clothing in secret. After the couple times that we caught him mid-hump, he'll wait for us to leave the house and then roll up a t-shirt, hoodie, or (creepy) undergarment and drag it all over the house. He started with my wife's clothes and moved on to mine. It's pretty common to come home to find a knotted up garment on the stairs. What a freakin' weirdo.

Our younger cat would compulsively fetch his favorite toy. Once he misplaced it, we haven't been able to substitute a toy that he pursues with the same enthusiasm. Some times I stand there and yell at him, "What makes this shitty little toy mouse any different at all from the last shitty little toy mouse that you played with until the seams split?" But there's no getting through to him.

"She loves the sheepy, she loves the sheepy -- No! Kill the sheepy!"
Our younger cat is exactly the same way. There's no separating love from kill. It's like the same emotion. It's a little creepy to find him purring and mauling his toys, like a happy little murder machine.

posted by Jon-o at 5:57 PM on January 20, 2010 [2 favorites]

this fresh out today.
posted by eebs at 8:01 PM on January 25, 2010

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