Allegra and the Search for the Missing Toy

Allegra-toy

Hi everyone, it’s Allegra. Today, I want to tell you about my special toy.

It’s nothing fancy. It’s a green suede mouse that used to have a tail, but it hasn’t had one for a very long time. It probably also had whiskers at some point, but since Mom usually removes those from any toys she gives me, it’s impossible to know for sure.

The toy has been in our house for a very long time. Mom says it was given to her by a friend, along with a second one of a different color, when she adopted Ruby, so that means it’s been here for nine years! The brown toy disappeared many many years ago and has yet to be found.

at-toys-plush-west-paw-mouse

This is what the toys looked like when they were new

I LOVE this toy! I pick it up and carry it around the house, chirping and singing and yowling. Sometimes, I even bring it to Mom when she’s already asleep in bed. I think Mom knows that that’s very special, because I don’t do it with any other toy.

I never play with this toy, it’s not meant for that. Mom, being the amazing cat mom that she is, knows this, and has always instructed our cat sitter to not ever use the toy to play with me.

Ruby also knew to never touch that toy. I didn’t even have to tell her, she just knew it was off limits.

So when the toy disappeared a couple of weeks ago, I was pretty upset. I tried to tell Mom, but even though she’s usually very in tune with me, she was slow on picking up on my increasingly anxious communications with her to let her know that THIS WAS AN EMERGENCY! Finally, one Sunday morning, she watched me go up and down the stairs, unable to settle down, because, well, MY TOY WAS MISSING! Finally, she caught on and realized that she hadn’t seen the toy in several days.

She immediately started looking. She looked under every piece of furniture. I helped her look as best as I could. After several minutes, she stopped and looked at me. “Allegra, I can’t find it. I’m so sorry. I don’t know where else to look.”

I couldn’t believe it. Mom knows everything.  How could she not know where my toy was? Then, all of a sudden, I heard her say “Oh! Maybe…” and she ran into the bedroom. She had made the bed earlier in the day, but she completely unmade it again, looking under the pillows and the comforter. No toy. She started to leave the bedroom, and then she turned around. She had already looked under the bed, and didn’t see the toy. But now, she looked between the headboard and the mattress – and sure enough, the toy had somehow fallen into the crack, and gotten stuck halfway down.

I can’t tell you how happy I was when she pulled it out! My toy was back! My Mom is the best!

A note from Ingrid: I don’t know what made me look in that particular spot, but something or someone (maybe Ruby?) guided me to it. I’m guessing that either Allegra dropped the toy down the crack when she brought it up on the bed one night, or it got flung down there when I threw the covers back after she brought the toy on the bed. Either way, I now make sure that the mattress is pushed back all the way against the headboard so there’s no way this can happen again.

A few more words about this special toy

The first time I heard Allegra with that toy, I thought she’d hurt herself, her cries sound so plaintive sometimes when she has it in her mouth. As soon as I look for her when she does carries the toy around, she drops it and stops vocalizing, which is why I’ve never been able to get a video of her with the toy.

Amber had her own version of this special toy: a green and tan fuzzy mouse that I got for her when she first came to live with me. For the entire ten years that she was with me, that mouse was her special “baby.” Like Allegra, she’d pick it up, carry it around the house, crying and yowling.

cat-sleeping-with-toy

Amber with her special toy

It was always interesting to me that none of the other cats would touch those special toys. Ruby considered every other toy in our house hers – but yet, she never once played with Allegra’s mouse. This was also the case with Amber’s green and tan mouse. Even though Buckley was already a senior when she came to live with us, she still liked to play, but she never once touched Amber’s special toy. When Allegra joined Amber and me as a 7-month-old kitten who would go after anything that moved, she never once played with Amber’s special mouse.

So what is going on here?

There are a couple of theories as to why some cats do this. One is that it has to do with a cat’s maternal instinct, and that it mimics what they would sound like when they carry their kittens. Some say that this happens especially in cats that never had a litter. While that might be true for Allegra, Amber blows that theory out of the water, because she had a litter of kittens when she was rescued. I’ve also heard of male cats doing the same thing.

The other theory is that this has to with the cat’s hunting instinct and that it is a way of announcing that they caught their prey, along the lines of “see what a great hunter I am!” That theory doesn’t really make sense to me, either, because I think that if that were the case, they wouldn’t be so secretive about it and just drop the toy when they see me looking at them. It seems like they would continue to bring the toy to me, waiting for some sort of praise.

Do your cats have a special toy? Share your stories!

27 Comments on Allegra and the Search for the Missing Toy

  1. Tel-Aviv's feral cats
    May 23, 2020 at 11:17 am (1 week ago)

    My Amiga roars and make sounds like she’s choking when playing with her toys. She’s overstimulated and very excited. Cats can be fascinated by the simplest things.

    Reply
  2. Denise
    May 23, 2020 at 9:48 am (1 week ago)

    Katie’s favorite toy was a catnip stuffed hedgehog that we called “Hedgie.” I know well the sound you talk about with Allegra. Hedgie would often show up in bed with us in the middle of the night. He now has a place of honor next to Katie’s ashes. She was over 17 1/2 when she passed on 05/26/19 so this Memorial Day weekend is bittersweet as I remember my sweet girl. I will always remember her tortitude and the very special bond we shared.

    Reply
  3. Harold
    May 22, 2020 at 8:11 am (1 week ago)

    My first Cat as an adult was Mischief, she lived twenty years 1993-2013 and throughout her life she had one toy and one toy only that she played with a yellow mouse, at the time I worked at a grocery store so I tied an apron cord on it’s tail to play with Mischief, and she would bring the mouse everywhere I was, and Every night the mouse slept with me, if the apron cord got stuck she would meow very loudly until I freed it. my family and fiends stopped giving her toys because she would sniff at them, walk away and go back to her mouse,
    When the time came for her to go to Heaven the mouse went with her, tucked under her paws as she made her way across the rainbow bridge.

    Reply
  4. Deedee
    May 21, 2020 at 12:16 pm (1 week ago)

    I just read your story about your babies special mice. Tears are running down my face as I read it. I lost my girl Shelley in January to lung cancer. My mom gave her a bright red mouse when I brought her home at a year old. She carried the mouse around and vocalized like it was her baby. None of the other cats played with it. She had it for 12 years. I can’t bare to throw it away.

    Reply
    • Ingrid
      May 22, 2020 at 5:11 am (1 week ago)

      I’m so sorry about Shelley, Deedee. I would hold on to that special toy, too.

      Reply
  5. Allison
    May 20, 2020 at 9:08 pm (1 week ago)

    When my cat Cinder (who is also a tortie) got older, she started losing interest in toys. Then we bought home a puzzle toy filled with plush mice and plastic balls. For a time, none of our cats showed any interest. Then Cinder began playing it and really took to one of the mice. That mouse became so worn it lost its ears and nose. We started letting her play with it on just special occasions, while we tried to find a replacement or even to have one handcrafted. When that didn’t work out, we covered it with fabric from another mouse. Cinder didn’t care for her improved mouse. Fortunately, she has now taken to playing with other toys again.

    Reply
  6. Nancy
    May 20, 2020 at 5:40 pm (1 week ago)

    My very first cat, Tammy, loved to fetch hard wrapped candy. She didn’t care about cat toys, just the candy, and she would bring it right back when I threw it. I didn’t leave them out but she loved playing fetch with me. Tammy passed away around 40 years ago and was a few months short of turning 20. I have had so many cats since Tammy as I worked with a cat rescue, and a popular toy with several of my cats through the years has been feathered mice. My cat Ren loves them and he hides them under furniture all over the livingroom and bedrooms. He gets very excited when I throw one and prances around with the mouse holding his head high sometimes.

    Reply
  7. Sarah Chauncey
    May 20, 2020 at 5:25 pm (1 week ago)

    Hedda had a green Kong froggie, and she carried it everywhere. She would leave it on my pillow sometimes. But she never played with it; she really did treat it like a “kitten.” Ariel, on the other hand, has a distinct “hunter cry” when she’s bringing me one of her puff balls sodden with water (LOL). With Ariel, she’s clearly asking me to throw the ball. Whereas Hedda’s attachment to Froggie didn’t really include me (more the maternal theory).

    Reply
  8. Ingrid
    May 20, 2020 at 4:49 pm (2 weeks ago)

    I love hearing all your stories of your cats’ special “babies!”

    Reply
  9. Eleanor Skibo
    May 20, 2020 at 4:05 pm (2 weeks ago)

    HI Allegra, I’ve missed visiting with you! Your toy looks to be a fun toy, but sorry to hear about the missing whiskers and tail. I heard about the big ‘Birthday Bash’ you put together for your mom. That had to take a lot of work on your part. But that was so loving and caring of you, to not forget
    ‘Moms Birthday’. I hope you both had fun, played some games and just shared a lot of love. Well,
    bye for now, check in regularly to have a chat. I love you both.

    Reply
  10. Mary McNeil
    May 20, 2020 at 3:57 pm (2 weeks ago)

    What wonderful stories ! None of my cats have done this, but it is sweet to read about your happy kitties !

    Reply
  11. Cindy
    May 20, 2020 at 11:28 am (2 weeks ago)

    My Seven does this all the time and with the same toy. It is actually a dog toy. It’s a soft, somewhat flat, stuffed dog bone shaped toy, probably 8″ long and pretty light weight. She has her head held high while dragging it around and does her song as she walks around with it. She sometimes will stop walking and start kneading it while it is in her mouth. I also had a male cat, Dacman, that would do this, but not that often. He’d walk around and sing his song, then come to me and drop it. I took it as a present for me. Miss him still.

    Reply
  12. Laura Parker
    May 20, 2020 at 11:26 am (2 weeks ago)

    My Siamese mix boys have all been fetchers but they have a group of soft Ikea finger puppet toys that are dutifully carried around the house daily. They are presented as gifts, often following a lovely song. If I am away from the house, there will often be one or two lovingly deposited in my slippers. The song sung for the horse toy is different from the dragon toy. These are not to be thrown for fetching. That is very offensive to the cats, signaling rejection of their gift.

    Reply
  13. Connie Fischer
    May 20, 2020 at 10:46 am (2 weeks ago)

    What an adorable story! None of our cats has a toy like this, but my son has a cat who jas a toy that she is really attached to. She gets it in her mouth and runs up and down the stairs like a maniac, meowing and having a ball. Then, she brings it to my son. Of course, all of this happens in the middle of the night which means loss of sleep. But he doesn’t care because it’s fun to see the kitty having such a good time.

    Reply
  14. Catherine J Stout
    May 20, 2020 at 10:40 am (2 weeks ago)

    Hi Ingrid, I hope you are having a good day..I very much enjoyed Allegra’s telling us about her toy, “baby”..I have 13 cats now and have always had cats, but I’ve never had a kitty that had a “baby”, however my daughters cat has one..They recently moved to WV, and that toy hasn’t been unpacked, cause her kitty, yowls all thru the night, when she has it..Her kitty hasn’t missed it yet, since she is busy discovering the new house..Cats are so unique!

    Reply
  15. Mandy
    May 20, 2020 at 10:36 am (2 weeks ago)

    My male cat Mr. Biscuits does this with several stuffed toys: a stuffed mouse and a couple of stuffed hedgehogs! It is so funny and I love when he does this! <3

    Reply
  16. Alice O.
    May 20, 2020 at 9:15 am (2 weeks ago)

    My mother’s calico cat (who I inherited after my mom went to a nursing home) had and dearly loved a stuffed monkey toy that my niece had won at a county fair. The toy was about 7 inches tall. From the time that stuffed monkey entered mom’s house until Callie came to live with me in Virginia (bringing her favorite toy, of course), that was her baby; and she would cry to it at night, carry it around in her mouth and drop it carefully into waste cans, baskets and boxes for safekeeping. Unfortunately, the cleaning people must have collected the toy one day and it was never found. Callie survived as she had me to mother after that. She lived to 18 or 19.

    Reply
  17. Amy Maher
    May 20, 2020 at 8:38 am (2 weeks ago)

    This reminds me of my sweet tortie Mandy, who passed away 3 years ago at age 18. She carried her crinkle ball in her mouth, vocalizing in a way that was unique to that toy. Neither of my other two cats toched it. She had to have that particular crinkle ball, so after 18 years it was in rough shape. I tired to replace it with an identical one, on multiple occasions, but she only wanted that one. Now it is in the urn with her ashes. I will never not miss her and her crinkle ball.

    Reply
  18. Debi Ennis Binder
    May 20, 2020 at 8:38 am (2 weeks ago)

    We have six cats; the tortie is the only one who does this. Do you know, with illustrations Allegra’s story would make an amazing kids book!! Such cute pictures come to mind.

    Reply
  19. Debi Ennis Binder
    May 20, 2020 at 8:36 am (2 weeks ago)

    We have six cats; the Torrie is the only one who does this. Do you know, with illustrations Allegra’s story would make an amazing kids book!! Such cute pictures come to mind.

    Reply
  20. Janine
    May 20, 2020 at 7:16 am (2 weeks ago)

    I love that little cry they make with the toy in their mouth. Kiki does the same thing. She rarely lets anyone see her with a toy in her mouth but yesterday she brought one to me and dropped it by the couch where I was reading. She also leaves toys in bed for me to find when I wake up. The only one who really claims toys is Lulu. Any toy on a wand is hers and she gets upset if someone else plays with them. My husband reminded me last night of the day she came to live with us. usually cats have been she the first couple of days, but Lu come in and saw all the toys laying around and got so excited she came to us and rubbed our ankles with her little tail quivering with joy. One thing to remember is this wasn’t planned. We didn’t even plan on getting a kitten that day. The toys are always out for the girls to play with.

    Reply
  21. Andrea R.
    May 20, 2020 at 7:03 am (2 weeks ago)

    Allegra, I enjoyed the story of your special toy. Your mama is very caring and good at finding toys! Tiger Lily, my 15 yr. old, was adopted at 8 weeks old from a local vet after being found at 5 weeks old. When I first saw this tiny tabby she was alone in a big cage with two toys, a tailess, one-eared pink mousie and a pipe cleaner caterpillar. When getting ready to take her home, something told me to ask for the two raggedy toys, promising the vet staff I’d replace them with new ones. My thought was that these were all she had that were her’s and it was important for her to bring them with us. The mousie has remained her favorite baby. Other than leaving it on my closed laptop or in another prominent place, it stays on her heating pad and by my pillow with her 2nd favorite toy, a small white bear she snuggles with. The caterpillar spent a semester away at college! Tiger Lily put it in my son’s luggage and surprised him when he returned to school and discovered it. She tried this trick again when he was home for a visit but I checked his shoes as he was packing and found she had tucked it into a sneaker! He is her favorite person so it makes sense that she would want to share her toy with him.

    Reply
  22. Nancy Faulkner
    May 20, 2020 at 4:49 am (2 weeks ago)

    Hi, Allegra & Ingrid,

    Milo & Grayson being, my two Senior cats don’t really play with any of the toys we have. Except, the nip toys!

    My youngest, Hamish likes the nip toys. And chasing both Milo & Grayson. Has curly toys he loves to chase, especially if thrown. He runs & bats it all over. That is…until we have to play the game of Nan has to hunt around the house to find his curly toys, again!

    Reply
  23. Jane
    May 20, 2020 at 3:08 am (2 weeks ago)

    She’s so wonderful.

    Reply
  24. Will Hodges
    May 20, 2020 at 2:40 am (2 weeks ago)

    These stories of Allegra and Amber are identical to my experience with my Anya, who has one special tail-less and whisker-less mouse, and two puffy balls she delivers every night, and sometimes during the day. I believe there may be a connection with the idea of “gifting” that I wrote about some months ago that you published on The Conscious Cat. Have you noticed if Allegra does this only when you’re home? This is such a fascinating behavior, and I’m wondering if there’s a connection with making mom happy through her “gifting”, even if she’s not bringing the toy directly to you every time.

    Reply
    • Ingrid
      May 20, 2020 at 4:53 am (2 weeks ago)

      I’m pretty sure she does it when I’m not home, too, Will, because sometimes, I find the toy in a different spot from where it was when I left the house.

      Reply
  25. Nancy
    May 20, 2020 at 2:33 am (2 weeks ago)

    I have 2 Torties and a black/white cat from a Tortie mother and all three of them meow, talk and carry on when they carry a soft toy in their mouth. Usually it’s very plaintive and almost painful sounding. The toy has to be soft…they don’t care which toy as long as It’s soft.

    Reply

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