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Why Do Cats Love String? 5 Reasons for This Behavior

Written by: Christian Adams

Last Updated on May 9, 2024 by Catster Editorial Team

cat playing with strings_Shutterstock_Noam Armonn

Why Do Cats Love String? 5 Reasons for This Behavior

A ball of yarn and a cat is a somewhat clichéd image for a reason: Cats the world over find a string of almost any kind irresistible. Even specially-made toys are often no match for a plain old piece of string. You may have wondered why this is. What is it about a piece of string that is so universally appealing to felines? You’ve come to the right place! In this article, we look at five common reasons cats have such a universal affection for string.

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The 5 Reasons Why Cats Love String

1. Hunting Instincts

Cats are natural hunters, and stalking prey is an intrinsic part of their DNA. Even though they have been domesticated, these instincts are still highly active. Many of the ways cats express themselves around your home are replicas of how they once acted in the wild, including hunting string. The movement and appearance of string on the floor mimic how prey or a snake would move in the wild, triggering your feline’s hunting instincts.

cat-playing-with-string_snake44_Shutterstock
Image Credit: snake44, Shutterstock

2. Play

As much as they love to hunt, cats are also active creatures that love a good play session. A piece of string inching along the ground or a ball of yarn rolling across the floor is begging to be played with, and most cats cannot resist. The string is also stagnant, doesn’t present a threat, and is easy to catch, making it an endless source of entertainment!


3. Texture

Cats love carpets and upholstery because it’s the perfect texture to dig their claws into, and string, especially a big ball, has the same appeal. String also has a great texture to chew on because it is easy to latch onto and rip apart, unlike slippery or hard toys. In some ways, this texture may also resemble the prey your feline would hunt and chew on in the wild.

black-and-white-tuxedo-cat-playing-with-string_Tony-Campbell_shutterstock
Credit: Tony Campbell, Shutterstock

4. Physical and Mental Stimulation

Physical and mental stimulation are essential for the health of any feline, and if your cat becomes bored or anxious, they will seek out ways to gain mental stimulation. The movement and texture of string and the rolling balls of yarn are endlessly stimulating and can provide a way for your cat to rid themselves of anxiety and boredom.


5. Similarity to a Cat’s Tail!

Cats can often be found chasing their own tails, and the reasons are largely the same as them chasing string. Young cats and kittens often chase their own and other cats’ tails, probably to fine-tune their hunting skills. While most cats outgrow this habit, a piece of string’s likeness to a tail may be one of the reasons that they are so attracted to it.

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Is String Dangerous for Cats?

While string can be a fun toy for your cat, they should always be supervised when playing with string. Cats can easily accidentally swallow a piece of string, which could potentially get caught in their throat or stomach. Balls of yarn are also potentially hazardous, as the long string could get wrapped around their bodies and even their neck, potentially causing suffocation.

We highly recommend letting your cats play with string only while under supervision, especially kittens, and make sure they do not have any access to string while you are not around. There are plenty of other safe toys that you can give your cat to play with while you are away. Keep the string for special occasions!

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Final Thoughts

The reasons that cats love string are largely instinctual: They see the string as prey, they love to play, and they adore the texture. Almost every cat owner on the planet will attest to a cat’s love of string, and there is almost nothing that a cat loves to play with more! Just make sure to keep a close eye out while your feline is playing with string, and take it away when they are done!


Featured Image by: Noam Armonn, Shutterstock

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