Why Do Cats Hoard Object and Bring Us “Gifts”

Years ago my Dad had a pharmacy and as a lover of animals, he kept a cat there. Terramycin (named for an antibiotic) wandered into the pharmacy one day and made it her home. Then we discovered she was pregnant. Terra, as we affectionately called her, soon gave birth to one little kitten whom we named Ilotycin (Ilo for short), another antibiotic.

Ilo became a great favorite with customers. After dropping a coin accidentally and watching Ilo use his paws to hide it under the rug at the front of the shop, people thought it was a wonderful game. Many of our customers would toss pennies on the floor just to watch Ilo hide them. Ilo developed quite a horde of change which we left under the rug for his amusement. We’re sure you have cats who love to collect and hide things in special places too.

My daughter, Rena, has a cat named Griffin who enjoys bringing “gifts” into the house – a bird, mice, a small lizard, bugs. While Rena understands that he means well, Griffin’s “gifts” are not really welcome and are carefully disposed of.

We know that cats have their reasons for the behavior, but we can only make educated guesses as to why they do these things.

One reason could be that Mama cats teach their kittens too hunt by bringing dead prey for them to eat when starting on solid food. When Mama Cat feels her kittens are ready, they graduate to live prey, learning to kill. Some people believe that this behavior causes hoarding as cats often bring their “gifts” near their food dishes, imitating Mama Cat’s lessons.

Another theory is that cats think they are superior to humans and that we need their care. Or that when our cats bring us objects that are precious to them, they are thanking us for all that we do for them.

Still another idea is that cats like to collect things and proudly show their prey to us. Perhaps this their way of letting us know that while they tolerate us and even love us, they are quite capable of taking care of themselves.

Both male and female cats will hoard items and bring “gifts”. While mother cats are usually the nurturing ones and try to contain the kittens in a safe place and not allowing them to wander off, males too can tend the kittens. This is true of all species of animal insuring their continued existence.

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