Despite their often apathetic attitudes, cats love to keep entertained by chasing things around. Even with dozens of cat toys at their disposal, it’s not unusual for felines to choose strings over everything. After all, images of cats and balls of yarn are cliché for a reason.
But, your furball choosing that years-old string over the new shiny toy you bought for them shouldn’t leave you disappointed. Why do cats like string? Cats prefer chasing things like string and ribbons because they stimulate them while relying on their hunting instincts.
Carry on reading to find out the story behind feline fascination over strings and whether it’s a safe plaything or not.
Image by Ma-Xiao-Tiao from Pixabay
Why Do Cats Like String?
Here are the main reasons cats can spend many hours playing with their favorite string.
1. Their Hunting Instincts
Cats, domesticated or not, are incredible hunters. Felines are always ready to pounce on mice, snakes, and other critters in the wild. In a loving household, hunting becomes unnecessary and leaves their primal urges unused—unless used as mousers.
Therefore, they stimulate these by pouncing on a string, laser pointer, or even biting your feet. The slithery movement and twitches of the string mimic prey trying to escape. Having complete control of the string—which makes it easy prey—as opposed to a laser pointer is also a contributing factor here.
2. They Love Playing
Image by Ma-Xiao-Tiao from Pixabay
While all cats retain some primal instincts, not all engage with cat toys just to attend to their hunting instincts. After all, their hunting days are long gone, and they know to purr if they need food. Some, if not most, chase strings around because they simply love playing.
3. String is Stimulating
While fun-loving, we all know how easily bored cats can get. When they feel bored or need to alleviate negative feelings, they’ll look for stimulating activity.
Playing with string gives both physical and mental stimulation to cats, which is one reason cats like string. As a cat owner, this is great for you. While spending time chasing after twine, they’re keeping physically healthy. It also gives them something positive to do rather than clawing at your carpet or other bad behavior cats may get up to when boredom strikes.
4. It resembles a Tail
While way thinner than most cat tails, a string slightly looks like a cat’s tail. And since felines love chasing their tails, they do the same to the piece of yarn. Cats chase their own tails for the same reason they pursue string: they’re playing, honing their hunting skills, and for stimulation.
While tail-chasing is most prevalent in kittens, some older cats don’t outgrow the habit, and the resemblance between a string and a cat’s tail can be behind their fascination.
5. It Has a Desirable Texture
Equipped with claws, cats love latching and scratching on upholstery and carpets—it’s one of their destructive behaviors. The texture of yarn (and thus string) is perfect for this purpose as it allows them to claw into it. This is particularly good for you if you have carpets in your home or don’t want your furball leaving scratches on your couches.
Should Cats Be Allowed to Play With String?
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Cats love many things that aren’t good for them—much like a certain species. As such, you should be cautious about what you allow your cat to do and be aware of the dangers of any activities they partake in.
The same goes for string, which can be dangerous for felines despite how much they like it. As such, cats should be supervised at all times when playing with string to prevent the following hazards.
Getting Tangled Up in String
When the string is too long, cats can easily find themselves tangled up in the string while playing. While mindlessly chasing the piece of yarn, they can get wrapped up in the string.
This can lead to injuries or even worse. They may also tie themselves to certain objects around the house, which can be costly should these household items be damaged. It can also injure the feline.
Ingesting the String
While cats are known for being intelligent, they don’t instinctively know what’s good for them. For example, some cats won’t have any second thoughts about drinking milk when they shouldn’t since there’s a good chance they’re lactose intolerant.
Therefore, there’s a chance for cats to chew and swallow the string they’re playing with, which can be terrible. The thread may be caught in their throat or travel to the stomach and cause several health issues.
What to Do if Your Cat Tries to Swallow a String
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A cat that attempts to swallow string may be successful and end up ingesting it, and you’ll no longer find it anywhere. Some aren’t successful, and you’ll see a thread hanging out the mouth while the other thread is stuck in the throat.
In the latter case, you should never try to remove the string yourself, as you risk damaging the feline’s throat. Instead, take your cat to the vet as soon as possible, and they’ll do what’s best for the cat. The same goes for any piece of string hanging from the cat’s backside.
In case of ingestion, your cat should pass it out without any issues. However, some won’t, and you should contact the vet for what needs to be done.
Playing with String Safely
Despite these potential complications associated with the string, it doesn’t mean you should stop your cat entirely from playing with it. Instead, you should only let the feline play with this piece of yarn when supervised. This allows you to stop them from harming themselves early.
Alternatively, you can try to find out their prey preference and give them a safer cat toy.
Final Thoughts on Why Cats Like String
Image by Mathias Reding from Pexels
Peanut butter and jelly, Robin and Batman, and cats and string are some of the most popular duos in the world. Cats love string because it allows them to use their hunting instincts, stimulate themselves, and is a fun plaything.
Unlike the first two duos, however, cats and string don’t always work well together as this relationship has many hazards. Therefore you need to ensure your furball’s under constant supervision if they’re allowed to have fun with twine.