What Is It With Cats and Printers?

Here's my guess: The high-pitched noises a printer makes are like the rustles, chirps, and squeaks that our feline hunters come pre-programmed to respond to.

Susan C. Willett  |  Nov 12th 2015

It’s a recognizable sound, for those of us with printers. Assorted boops and beeps and whirrs. The buzz of the ink cartridges sliding back and forth, the susurration of paper. But it’s 2 a.m., and all the humans are sleeping.

Are there ghosts in the machine?

I slip out of my bedroom and peek into my office. It’s one of the cats, specifically Elsa Clair.

Elsa Clair cat investigates printer

Elsa Clair wants to know what’s in there. (All photos by Susan C. Willett.)

My cats are fascinated with my printers. (I have two. Printers, that is. Four cats, two printers.) I’ve heard similar tales from other people who are lucky to share their homes, and offices, with cats.

So what is it about printers and cats?

Here’s my semi-educated guess. The high-pitched noises a printer makes may be just enough like the rustles, chirps, and squeaks that our feline hunters come pre-programmed to respond to. Thus, a four-page Excel spreadsheet sent to the printer becomes a siren call that my cats cannot help but answer. They are irresistibly drawn to my office.

Cat looks inside printer

Whatever it is, I’ll get it.

It’s not just Elsa Clair. All of my kitties are attracted to printers, ambling into my office and swirling around like moths on my porch light. Until they land. And stare. Like Athena and Dawn, in the photo below.

Two cats on printers

Copy Cats

My cat Calvin thinks my printer is a great cat bed. It’s even more exciting when I print out a long PowerPoint deck. Calvin’s bed vibrates like magic fingers, while singing the song of his species. It must be heavenly.

Calvin cat rest on the printer

Could you put another quarter in?

Elsa Clair goes beyond merely visiting when I’m printing. She peers. Pokes. Ponders. Prowls all over the machines.

Our two printers have lots of buttons that make sounds she steps on them. Which she does. A lot.

Elsa Clair cat pushes buttons on the printer

What happens when I push this?

Elsa Clair gets an enormous amount of pleasure out of walking around on top of the machines, playing them with her jelly bean paws like they’re baby grands. If she gets the combination right – hitting a series of buttons that means “clean the printer heads,” for example – Elsa Clair is rewarded with kitty printer music.

Elsa Clair pushes my buttons.

Elsa Clair pushes my buttons.

If she steps on the wrong button, she shuts off the printer. Alas! The printer is silenced.

Elsa Clair cat on the printer

Yo. Human. Why did it stop? It must be your fault.

Until I turn it on, and once again, cats from far and near come to listen to the Concerto for Canon Printer in B Flat.

Calvin cat sleeping on printer

The music is divine.

Are your cats attracted to printers? Why do you think that is? Tell us in the comments!

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About the author: Susan C. Willett is a writer, photographer, and blogger whose award-winning original stories, photography, poetry, and humor can be found at Life With Dogs and Cats. She lives in New Jersey with four cats and three dogs (all rescues) and at least a couple of humans — all of whom provide inspiration for her work. Refusing to take sides in the interweb’s dogs vs. cats debate, Susan enjoys observing the interspecies interaction among the varied inhabitants of her home — like living in a reality TV show, only furrier. In addition to Life With Dogs and Cats, you can find more Dawn, Athena, Calvin and Elsa Clair (and the rest of the gang) on Haiku by Dog™, Haiku by Cat™, and Dogs and Cats Texting.