Rescue cats drag toys to the water bowl

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Rescue cats drag toys to the water bowl

Updated Dec 21, 2021

Dear Cathy,

I have two rescue cats that I spend a lot of time playing with. One of our games is playing with a string that I drag around the floor, and they chase it. My question is, why do cats drag the string or toys to their water bowl? It’s cute but curious.

– Laura, Long Beach, New York

Dear Laura,

It’s not unusual for cats to transport play things to their water or food bowls. No one knows for sure why they do this, but some people think cats are mimicking nurturing behaviors, like a mama cat carrying her kittens to safety. Since both male and female cats do this, however, I think it might be an instinctive “hunting” behavior where they kill and carry their prey to a safe location. Cats consider their food area as safe territory. So for now, it’s a “cute but curious” behavior.

Cathy M. Rosenthal is a longtime animal advocate, children’s author, syndicated pet columnist, and pet expert with more than 30 years in the animal welfare field. Send your pet questions, stories and tips to Please include your name, city, and state. You can follow her @cathymrosenthal

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Cathy Rosenthal, CHES, CFE
Animal Welfare Communications Specialist

Cathy brings more than 25 years' experience in the animal welfare field. She is a sought-after speaker, Certified Humane Education Specialist, a syndicated pet advice columnist, an author, a publisher, and of course - a loving pet parent.

Read more about Cathy here or check out her Non-Profit's page to see more ways she can help you and your organization.

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