| Pet Care Advice By Veterinarians |

Why Does My Cat Put Toys In My Shoes?



Reviewed By: Dr. Joel Robertson

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Cats love to play, and sometimes this involves bringing their toys into unexpected places.

Whether it’s in the middle of the night when you’re trying to sleep, or a moment when you’re looking for something else entirely – cats often make sure that their favorite toy is right at your feet!

It’s not always clear why your cat might be putting their toys in your shoes, but there are a few potential explanations.

Key Takeaway

  • Cats often put toys in shoes as an expression of their natural hunting instincts, to store their “prey” in a safe place, or as a form of gift-giving to show their bond with their beloved humans.
  • To discourage your cat from putting toys in your shoes, you can keep your shoes out of their reach, provide a designated toy box for them, and engage them with interactive play and interesting toys that cater to their hunting instincts.

Why Does My Cat Put Toys In My Shoes?

Why Does My Cat Put Toys In My Shoes
  • Instinctual behavior
  • Bonding and gifting
  • It’s a safe location to stash toys
  • Attraction to your scent

Instinctual Behavior

Cats often exhibit prey-retrieval instincts, similar to their wild counterparts. Placing toys in your shoes may be a way for them to “store” their hunted items.

Bonding and Gifting

Cats might place their toys in your shoes as a form of bonding or gifting. It’s their way of showing affection and sharing their “catch” with you.

Safe and Noticeable Location

Your shoes are familiar and often stationary objects, making them a safe and noticeable location for your cat to store their favorite toys.

Attraction to Your Scent

Cats are attracted to the scent of their owners. Your shoes carry your scent, and placing their toys in them could be a way for your cat to create a connection between their playthings and their beloved human.

How Can I Discourage My Cat From Putting Toys In My Shoes?

  • Provide Alternatives: Offer your cat other interesting places to store their toys. This could be a box, a specific corner of a room, or even a dedicated cat toy basket.
  • Positive Reinforcement: Reward your cat when they use the alternative toy storage. This can include treats, affection, or playtime.
  • Keep Your Shoes Away: Store your shoes in a closed closet or a shoe rack that your cat can’t easily access.
  • Clean Your Shoes Regularly: By keeping your shoes clean and odor-free, you may make them less attractive to your cat.
  • Interactive Playtimes: Engage your cat in active play with their toys. This might help them expend energy and lose interest in hiding their toys.
  • Consult a Vet or Animal Behaviorist: If the behavior continues despite your best efforts, it might be worth discussing it with a professional who can provide further insight and customized solutions.

Are There Any Reasons Why Cats Specifically Choose To Put Toys In Shoes?

  • Scent Association: Cats have a strong sense of smell and your shoes carry your scent. This association might make your shoes an attractive place for them to store their toys.
  • Territorial Marking: Cats often use scent to mark their territory. By placing their toys in your shoes, they might be marking them as their own.
  • Safe Keeping: Shoes can provide a confined space that makes it difficult for the toys to be moved or lost. It could be their way of keeping their toys safe.
  • Attention Seeking: If your cat gets a reaction from you when they put toys in your shoes, they might continue doing it as a way to seek your attention.
  • Instinctual Behavior: In the wild, cats hide their prey to protect it from other predators. Even though your cat’s “prey” is just a toy, they might still feel the instinct to hide it in your shoes.

Should I Be Concerned If My Cat Consistently Puts Toys In My Shoes?

Generally, there is no need to be concerned if your cat consistently puts toys in your shoes. This behavior is quite common and usually not a cause for alarm.

It could be an expression of your cat’s natural instincts, such as hunting or marking territory, or it could simply be a playful habit.

Your cat might also be doing this because they associate your shoes with you and feel comforted by your scent.

What Should I Do If I Find a Dead Animal In My Shoe?

If you find a dead animal in your shoe that your cat brought, it’s crucial to respond appropriately. First, avoid touching the animal with your bare hands.

Use gloves or an inverted plastic bag to remove the animal from your shoe.

Dispose of the animal properly – this may involve double-bagging it in sealed plastic bags and disposing of it in your regular trash, depending on local regulations.

Thoroughly clean and disinfect the shoe. If the shoe can’t be cleaned satisfactorily, you may need to discard it.

Regarding your cat’s behavior, understand that this is a common instinctual behavior for cats as they are natural hunters and often bring their “trophies” home.

Can I Train My Cat To Stop Putting Toys In My Shoes?

Yes, you can train your cat to stop putting toys in your shoes. The training process would involve redirecting your cat’s attention and reinforcing positive behavior.

Start by removing the shoe as an option for your cat. You could store your shoes in a closed closet or use a shoe rack that prevents the cat from accessing your shoes.

Then, provide alternative places for your cat to leave its toys, like a specific box or basket. Reward your cat with treats or praise when it uses this new spot.

It’s important to be patient and consistent during this process as changing a cat’s behavior can take time.

Are There Any Benefits To My Cat Putting Toys In My Shoes?

  • Stimulates their hunting instincts: Cats are natural hunters, and putting toys in shoes can mimic the act of catching prey and stashing it for later. This can help keep your cat mentally stimulated and engaged.
  • Provides physical activity: The act of carrying toys and placing them in your shoes can be a form of exercise for your cat, helping to keep them active and healthy.
  • Promotes bonding: If your cat is bringing you their toys (in this case, by putting them in your shoes), it can be seen as a sign of affection or trust. They might consider you part of their “family” and are sharing their “prey” with you.
  • Enriches their environment: Cats need an enriched environment to keep them happy and prevent boredom. Having toys and interacting with them in different ways, like putting them in shoes, can add variety to their environment.
  • Helps with behavioral issues: Engaging in such behaviors can help prevent or reduce other behavioral issues. If they’re busy with their toys, they might be less likely to engage in destructive behaviors.

Is It Normal For Cats To Put Their Favorite Toys In My Shoes?

Yes, it is normal for cats to put their favorite toys in your shoes. Cats are natural hunters, and this behavior is often a sign of their hunting instincts.

They may see your shoes as a safe and secure place to “store” their “prey”, much like they would do in the wild.

How Can I Keep My Cat Engaged With Their Toys So They Don’t Put Them In My Shoes?

  • Rotate Toys: Don’t leave all the toys out at once. Rotate them every few days to keep your cat’s interest.
  • Interactive Play: Spend time each day playing with your cat and their toys. This can keep them engaged and less likely to stash their toys in your shoes.
  • Use Puzzle Toys: Puzzle toys that dispense treats or have hidden compartments can keep your cat engaged for longer periods of time.
  • Create a Toy Box: Designate a specific box or area for your cat’s toys. They may start using this instead of your shoes.
  • Add Catnip: Some toys come with catnip or can be filled with it. The scent can stimulate your cat and keep them interested in their toys.
  • Choose Interesting Toys: Find toys that mimic prey, like those that squeak or have feathers. These can engage your cat’s hunting instincts.
  • Provide Vertical Spaces: Many cats enjoy climbing and being in high places. Cat trees or shelves can provide a new perspective for play.

In Conclusion

When it comes to why cats put toys in shoes, the answer is not as straightforward as you might think.

It could be that they are trying to hide their toys from other animals or humans, they could be attempting to make a cozy nest for themselves, or they might simply enjoy the novelty of playing with something unexpected in such an unusual place.

Please take the time and leave a comment below if this article helped you, or you have any additional questions.

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