Last Updated on: February 2, 2023 by Crystal Uys

cat surrounded by stuffed animals

Cats are interesting animals that often do things that remain a mystery to us. One behavior that some cats engage in is collecting random items. There’s yet to be a concrete explanation for why cats will collect, hide, or hoard certain items. This behavior may be connected to resource guarding, mothering instincts, or hunting instincts.

While it makes sense for cats to hoard and hide food and toys, some cats may develop a hobby of collecting unusual items. Here are some things that cats may end up collecting.


Top 6 Strange Things Cats Collect:

1. Jewelry

a cat looking at the wedding rings_JumpStory

Some cats may end up stealing and hoarding jewelry. It’s unclear as to why cats may enjoy jewelry, especially because they’re not fond of wearing them. However, it’s possible that they’re attracted to the shine and light reflecting off them. Jewelry and precious metals may have similar effects to laser pointers and light that reflects off mirrors. So, cats may just be intrigued and attracted to items that sparkle.


2. Bottlecaps

blue and white bottlecaps
Image Credit: Sebastian P, Unsplash

Metal bottle caps can have a similar effect as jewelry. Some cats enjoy playing with plastic bottle caps that you can twist off of milk cartons and water bottles. Cats might like these items because they enjoy the sounds that they make. They make different noises when they’re dropped or slid across the floor. These sounds may sound similar to insects that cats may enjoy hunting, like cicadas and crickets.

I’ve had a cat that enjoyed stealing milk caps. We’d have to be very careful with holding them in our hands whenever we opened a milk carton, or she’d swipe them off our kitchen counter. She seemed to enjoy batting the caps and sliding them around the floor. She especially loved when the cap had a tail attached to it, and she could spend a long time playing with it.


3. Rubber Bands

rubber bands

Cats may enjoy stealing rubber bands because of the chewy texture. Chewing is a natural behavior, and some cats might like chewing rubbery items because the texture is similar to meat. Since rubber bands can be choking hazards, it’s best to store them away in safe and unreachable places to keep your cat safe.

Also, chewing on things is normal for cats, and it shouldn’t cause concern unless it becomes a compulsive behavior. Excessive chewing can indicate physical or mental health issues, like hunger or anxiety.


4. Cardboard Boxes

a cat in a cardboard box

Cardboard boxes may not be very valuable to us, but many cats enjoy playing with cardboard boxes and hiding in them. My cat loves cardboard boxes, and you can see her getting visibly upset on garbage collection day. When it’s time to toss our boxes in the recycle bin, we always have to remember to leave one box for her.

Cats can find cardboard boxes comforting because they find safety in enclosed and dim spaces. They may also enjoy scratching them and sinking their claws into them.


5. Leaves and Paper

crumpled paper

Some cats might enjoy collecting pieces of paper. You might find them playing with crumpled receipts and opened mail. Some cats might like playing with and collecting dried leaves. The reason for this may be similar to the reason why cats like bottle caps. The leaves and paper can make noises that mimic insect sounds.

Cats might also like crinkly items because they sound and feel like natural bedding. While indoor cats often enjoy the luxury of sleeping in plush cat beds or human beds, wild cats typically make nests with natural items like grass, feathers, and leaves. So, paper and dried leaves can feel like comfortable nesting material for your cat.


6. Small Pieces of Plastic

marker pen caps
Image Credit: Teacher Photo, Shutterstock

Cats can develop a habit of collecting everyday household items like floss picks, jar lids, and pen caps. They may enjoy playing with small pieces of plastic because they have a softer texture and can make some fun noises.

Cats can also have the urge to collect, and plastic items are relatively light and easy to carry around, and they’re usually found in abundance.


Is It Okay If My Cat Collects Things?

Collecting items is normal behavior that some cats will engage in, and it’s not a huge concern. However, there are some cases when it should be addressed and prevented. Some cats can collect things due to anxiety and resource guarding.

If you suspect your cat is collecting items due to insecurity or another underlying cause, consult your veterinarian to diagnose the cause. I once asked my veterinarian about my cat stealing milk caps during a routine check-up, and he determined that the behavior was normal and made suggestions for cat toys similar to milk caps. You can also work with a reputable cat behaviorist to figure out how to help your cat.

Some cats may collect items that are safety hazards. Cats can easily choke on small items, like coins and rubber bands. They can also get sick if they eat certain plant leaves. You can try to find safer alternatives and cat toys that are similar to these items, and make sure to store these objects in secured spaces.


Conclusion

One of my favorite things about having pet cats is discovering their unique and quirky habits and personalities. Not all my cats collected objects, and the one that liked to swipe milk caps was completely healthy and was most likely acting out of curiosity and playfulness. Cats collecting random objects isn’t usually a problem, but if you’re concerned, you can always speak with your veterinarian or a cat behaviorist to determine the best way to address the behavior.


Featured Image credit: Nikola Bacanek, Unsplash

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