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Why do cats take toys and hide them?

Cats are fascinating creatures, full of quirks and behaviours that often leave us scratching our heads. But perhaps one of the most perplexing habits they have is taking their toys and hiding them away. It doesn’t matter if it’s a sparkly ball or a fluffy mouse, cats seem to feel an irresistible urge to keep their toys hidden from view.

So why do they do it? Well, as it turns out, this behaviour is deeply rooted in their natural instincts. Like their wild ancestors, domestic cats have a powerful predatory drive that drives them to hunt and capture prey. Hiding their toys allows them to practice these skills and hone their stalking and pouncing abilities – even if there’s no actual prey involved.

But toy hoarding isn’t just about hunting practice. It’s also a way for cats to maintain their territory and establish dominance over other felines in the household. By stashing toys in various nooks and crannies around the home, cats are marking their turf and sending a clear message to any potential rivals: “This is mine.”

In this blog post, we’ll explore the fascinating world of cat behaviour and delve into the reasons behind your feline friend’s toy-hiding tendencies. From instinctive motivations to territorial signalling, we’ll uncover the secrets behind this puzzling habit once and for all. So come along with us on this journey of discovery – who knows what we might learn about our furry friends along the way.

Cats’ Natural Hunting Instincts

Cats’ natural hunting instincts are deeply ingrained in their behavior, as they are natural predators. Even though domestic cats may not need to hunt for survival, they still have the same drive to chase, catch, and kill prey that their wild ancestors did. This instinct is what makes them take toys and hide them.

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When cats play with toys, they are essentially practicing their hunting skills. They stalk, pounce, and capture the toy as if it were prey. Once they have “caught” the toy, some cats may carry it around in their mouth for a while before eventually hiding it away. This behavior serves several purposes for the cat.

Firstly, it allows them to keep their “prey” safe from other predators (including humans). Secondly, it enables them to prolong the thrill of the hunt by continuing to seek out and find the hidden toy. Finally, hiding the toy satisfies the cat’s natural desire to hoard items that they perceive as valuable.

It’s worth noting that some cats may be more prone to this behavior than others, depending on their individual personalities and past experiences. Some cats may prefer to play with toys and leave them out in the open, while others may be more secretive about their “prey.” Additionally, cats who have experienced hunger or scarcity in the past may be more likely to hoard toys and food as a survival instinct.

While this behavior is perfectly normal and even healthy for cats, it can sometimes be frustrating for their owners. If your cat is hiding toys in places where you can’t find them or is damaging your furniture by scratching or biting, it may be a sign that they need more physical and mental stimulation.

To prevent destructive behavior around the house, it’s important to provide your cat with enough toys to play with and keep them mentally stimulated. You might try rotating their toys regularly to keep things interesting or giving them puzzle toys that require more mental effort. Additionally, be mindful of any stressors in your cat’s environment that may be contributing to this behavior.

Territorial Behavior

Cats are fascinating creatures, and their behavior never ceases to amaze us. One of the most common questions I get asked as a cat expert is why cats take their toys and hide them. The answer lies in their instinctual territorial behavior.

Cats are very particular about their space, and they use their toys to mark their territory. This is especially true for domesticated cats who exhibit the same behavior as their wild counterparts. In the wild, cats are solitary creatures and fiercely protect their territory from other cats. Even though your kitty may not be in any real danger, they still hide their toys in specific locations around the house to claim that space as their own.

Moreover, cats have an acute sense of smell, which they use to navigate their environment. By marking their territory with their toys, they leave behind their scent, which helps them communicate with other animals that this area belongs to them.

However, if you have multiple cats in your household, this territorial behavior can sometimes lead to conflicts between them. It’s crucial to ensure that each cat has enough space to claim as their own and separate toys to play with. This will help prevent any tensions from arising between your furry friends.

In addition, it’s essential to provide your feline friend with enough mental stimulation to keep them happy and content. Here are some tips:

  • Rotate their toys regularly to keep them interested
  • Provide scratching posts or pads to satisfy their natural urge to scratch
  • Offer interactive toys such as puzzle feeders or laser pointers
  • Set up perches or window seats so they can watch the world go by

Stress Relief

While cats are often seen as independent and self-sufficient animals, they can still experience stress just like humans. But have no fear. Hiding toys can actually serve as a coping mechanism for our feline friends.

When cats feel stressed, they may exhibit various behaviors, such as hiding or over-grooming. One way to alleviate this stress is by providing them with a stash of toys hidden away in a safe and familiar place. This gives them a sense of control and security during times of uncertainty.

But why do cats hide their toys? As natural hunters, cats have an instinct to hoard prey for later consumption. Hiding toys around the house satisfies this instinct and gives them something to look forward to when they need to relieve stress. Plus, having a stash of toys in different locations around the house can provide mental stimulation and entertainment for your furry friend.

As a cat owner, it’s important to recognize this behavior and provide your cat with plenty of toys and hiding places. This includes providing them with comfy beds, scratching posts, and cozy hiding spots like cardboard boxes or cat trees. Not only will this keep your cat entertained and mentally stimulated, but it will also help them feel secure and alleviate their stress.

It’s also important to observe any changes in behavior, as excessive hiding or hoarding of toys could be a sign of a more serious underlying issue, such as anxiety or illness. If you notice any unusual behavior, don’t hesitate to consult with your veterinarian for advice.

Enjoyment of the Game

This is because cats are natural hunters with a strong predatory instinct. When they hide their toys, they are simulating the hunting experience, and this behavior provides them with mental stimulation and exercise.

In addition to their love for hunting, cats also have a strong sense of ownership over their toys. When they take a toy and hide it, they want to keep it safe and secure. This is similar to how cats in the wild hide their prey to protect it from other predators or save it for later. By hiding their toys, cats are exhibiting this same behavior.

Furthermore, cats enjoy the challenge of hiding and finding toys. They are intelligent animals that need mental stimulation to stay healthy and happy. Hiding and finding toys is an excellent way for them to exercise their problem-solving skills.

It’s crucial for cat owners to provide their pets with toys that they can hide and play with because this satisfies their natural hunting instinct while also preventing boredom and destructive behavior. Therefore, it is essential to offer your feline friend stimulating toys that will keep them entertained and mentally stimulated.

Providing Toys to Stimulate Your Cat

After all, cats are natural hunters, and they need to fulfill their predatory instincts to stay healthy and happy. But what types of toys should you provide to keep your cat engaged and active?

There are a variety of options available, but it’s crucial to choose toys that mimic prey. Wand toys are an excellent choice as they allow you to interact with your cat and simulate the movements of prey. This type of play is essential for your cat to exercise their hunting instincts and get the mental stimulation they need.

Another fun option is catnip toys. These toys often have a stimulating scent that encourages play and can keep your cat entertained for hours. Watching your cat roll around in pure bliss while playing with these toys is always a joy to witness.

Puzzle feeders are also great for keeping your cat mentally stimulated and preventing boredom and obesity. These feeders require your cat to work for their food, which helps them stay active and engaged. Plus, it’s fun to watch your cat figure out how to get the treats out of the puzzle.

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It’s important to rotate your cat’s toys regularly to prevent boredom, so consider investing in a variety of options. And always supervise your cat during playtime, avoiding any toys that could be dangerous if ingested.

Cats also love to hide their toys as a way to simulate hunting prey. Consider hiding toys in different locations around the house to encourage your cat to use their natural instincts and keep them mentally stimulated. However, excessive hiding behavior could indicate stress or anxiety. If you notice this behavior, consulting with a veterinarian or animal behaviorist may be necessary.

Recognizing Stressors in the Environment

Loud noises, unfamiliar scents, changes in routine or the presence of other animals can all trigger anxiety and stress in cats. When cats feel stressed, they may engage in displacement behavior, such as hiding toys or even themselves, as a coping mechanism.

Hiding objects is a common form of displacement behavior and can be seen as an attempt by cats to regain control over their environment. By creating safe spaces for themselves, cats can retreat to a secure area when they feel overwhelmed or threatened. As pet owners, it’s crucial to recognize these behaviors and address the stressors in our cat’s surroundings.

Creating a designated safe space for your cat is a great way to reduce their exposure to stressors. This could be a quiet room with a cozy bed or a covered crate that provides a sense of security. Minimizing changes in routine and using calming aids such as pheromone sprays or diffusers can also help alleviate anxiety.

Toys are often a source of comfort for cats, and when they hide them, it could be a sign of stress. Paying attention to your cat’s behavior and recognizing the signs of stress can help prevent displacement behaviors such as hiding toys. By addressing stressors in your cat’s environment, you can create a safe and comfortable space for your furry friend.

Other Reasons Why Cats Hide Their Toys

Cats have a reputation for being mysterious creatures, and their tendency to hide their toys only adds to their enigmatic nature. While cats’ instinctual need to hunt and protect their toys is the most obvious reason why they hide them, there are several other reasons behind this behavior. Here are five more explanations for why cats may hide their toys:

Territorial behavior

Cats are territorial animals, and hiding toys can be a way for them to mark their territory. By concealing their toys in a specific location, they are claiming that space as their own and letting other cats know not to invade their personal space.

Coping with stress or anxiety

When cats feel stressed or overwhelmed, hiding objects can be a coping mechanism. This behavior can help them feel more in control of their environment, providing them with a sense of security.

Playful nature

Hiding and finding objects can be a fun game for cats, especially if the object has a scent or texture that they find appealing. This behavior is more common in younger cats who are still developing their hunting instincts but can also be seen in older cats who never outgrow their love for play.

Protective instinct

Cats have an innate need to protect their belongings, including their toys. Domestic cats have retained this instinct from their wild ancestors, and they may hide their toys in safe spots to keep them away from other animals or even humans.

Seeking stimulation

Hiding toys can be a way for cats to create a game or challenge for themselves, keeping them mentally stimulated and engaged. This is especially important for indoor cats who may not have access to the same level of stimulation as outdoor cats.

The Benefits of Understanding Your Cat’s Behavior

Understanding your cat’s behavior can help you develop a better relationship with them and ensure their needs are met. Let’s explore the benefits of comprehending your cat’s behavior in more detail.

  • Better Communication: Cats communicate through body language, vocalizations, and behavior. By observing and understanding your cat’s behavior, you can communicate with them more effectively. For example, if your cat is arching their back and hissing, they may feel threatened or afraid. Conversely, if they’re purring and kneading on your lap, they’re likely feeling content and relaxed.
  • Improved Health: Cats are experts at masking pain and discomfort, but changes in behavior can be signs of underlying health issues. Understanding your cat’s behavior can help you recognize when something is wrong and seek veterinary care promptly. For instance, if your once-affectionate cat suddenly becomes aloof or stops eating, it could be a symptom of an underlying medical condition.
  • Increased Bonding: When you understand your cat’s likes and dislikes, you can cater to their needs and create a comfortable environment for them. This can lead to increased bonding as your cat feels safe and secure in their home. For example, if your cat loves belly rubs or playing with a specific toy, incorporating these activities into your daily routine can help strengthen your bond.
  • Mental Stimulation: Cats are natural hunters, so providing mental stimulation through play is crucial for their well-being. Understanding your cat’s behavior can help you choose toys that cater to their hunting instincts and provide them with the exercise they need to stay healthy. For instance, if your cat loves to pounce and chase prey, interactive toys like feather wands or laser pointers would be ideal.
  • Stress Reduction: Cats are sensitive creatures, and changes in their environment or routine can cause stress. Understanding your cat’s behavior can help you identify stressors and take steps to reduce them, such as providing a safe hiding spot or extra playtime. Additionally, knowing your cat’s behavior can help prevent potential stressors. For instance, if your cat is easily spooked by loud noises, you can plan ahead and keep them in a quiet room during thunderstorms or fireworks.


In conclusion, cats are enigmatic creatures with intricate behaviors that often leave us puzzled. Among their many quirks, the tendency to take toys and stash them away ranks high on the list. However, this seemingly odd behavior is deeply rooted in their natural instincts.

Cats are born hunters, and their innate drive to hunt and capture prey is what prompts them to hide their toys. By doing so, they can hone their stalking and pouncing skills, even if there’s no actual prey involved. Additionally, toy hoarding serves as a way for cats to establish dominance over other felines in the household and maintain their territory.

To better understand your cat’s behavior, you must observe them closely. This will help you communicate with them more effectively while meeting their needs. By providing enough toys for your cat to play with and keeping them mentally stimulated, you can prevent destructive behavior around the house. Consider rotating their toys regularly or giving them puzzle toys that require more mental effort.

It’s also essential to be mindful of any stressors in your cat’s environment that may contribute to this behavior. Understanding why cats take toys and hide them will not only improve your relationship with your furry friend but also promote bonding, mental stimulation, good health, and reduce stress.