Have you ever caught your cat playing with string, wrapping itself in the ball of yarn like it is the best toy ever? For sure, many cat parents have witnessed this amusing sight, as most felines have a thing with string. But the big question is, why do cats like yarn? No doubt, there is a special place in the heart of every cat reserved for balls of yarn – it is even possible that cats love strings more than toys. If you are confused about this phenomenon, it will no longer remain a mystery as we are poised to solve the enigma behind the cat’s fascination with yarn. Continue reading to find out.
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Hunters and Prey
It is quite obvious that our feline friends are far from innocent as their looks would lead us to believe – while they cannot be equated to the wild tigers, cats do display remarkable hunting skills, which is restricted to their habitat. When you witness a cat playing with a string, the saying that felines consider themselves as the smartest creatures begins to ring true. While canines mostly play with toys to entertain their human family, felines are known to do it as a show-off, and thus, they see that string or ball of yarn in the house as a probable challenge, making them determined to play with it.
When cats chase after strings, they are only displaying dominance over the item and there is this belief that their obsession with strings emanates from the natural habitat of the feral cat. In the jungle, the feline’s rival happens to be the snake. Now, you would not be far from the truth if you attribute the cat’s love for the string to its resemblance to snakes – the theory is quite credible.
In addition to seeing it as a toy, felines also see the string as a training object, using it to horn their hunting skills at home. Besides, a string is just the perfect object for such activity, since it is not a living thing, and thus, it makes the whole process much easier for the smaller sized cats. Even though the vet might be against having excessive balls of string in the homes, a single ball is not likely to hurt your feline companion, especially when you will always be handy to supervise it at playtime.
The String has Similarity to a Kitty’s Tail
It is agreed that cats chase after strings because of the resemblance to little prey and even the prey’s intestine: however, it has equally been concluded that the string’s likeness to a cat’s tail may be another reason why felines love strings. It is quite common to see a cat chasing after its tail, possibly because it also looks like prey. Besides, felines are known to fine-tune their hunting prowess by playing with their tails.
However, as cats grow older, they tend to outgrow the habit of chasing their tails but never playing with string. The reason is that it is more satisfying and a whole lot easier to play with a string compared to their tail. In addition, biting the string is not likely to hurt, unlike when it bites its tail.
Balls of Yarn Serve as Mental Stimulation
The feline population is known to constantly experience anxiety and is very sensitive when dealing with solitude. What this means is that adopters need to find ways in which to maintain their mental health. For kitties, stress coupled with anxiety leads to boredom, and while we know cats to be natural attention seekers, they are still capable of thriving when left to their device with a suitable stimulation.
Over the years, the discovery of string by felines have proved to be a veritable source of stimulation for tackling boredom and anxiety in cats. Balls of yarn entertain cats longer than any other known toy can, and combined with natural remedies; it has become an effective way for pet parents to entertain their cats while looking out for its safety.
Because being safe for cats, a ball of yarn can still serve as a training object in addition to a plaything. Most cats do love to indulge in a good game, and when you consider other unhealthy options like the elusive laser pointers, the string is a lot better as it represents something tangible. Cats can easily reach out, and grab a ball of yarn, and feel some kind of connection to it.
Cats are Visually Attuned With Motion
Felines are known for their vision system that revolves around motion, and in addition to these visual inputs, they equally come equipped with sense detectors, which aids them in receiving information about any object before them. For the reason that a kitty’s vision is very responsive or sensitive to motion, moving toys such as string and winding objects offer high levels of visual stimulation. If a string rapidly moves in front of your kitty, its eyes will quickly follow suit without losing sight of it for a second. The reason for this is that felines are so visually attuned with motion.
Unlike birds, laser pointers, and other kinds of interactive toys, your furry friend does not need to chase the string o ball of yarn without getting that satisfaction of grabbing it. Apart from being tangible, the yarn is also stagnant, and at the feline’s disposal, which means that kitty can reach out at any time and get hold of it. That satisfaction of finally being able to swoop and catch the prey is very exciting for the cat as it jumps, dives, and runs after the string.
However, it is worth noting that a cat with ball of yarn can be dangerous, meaning that you have to apply caution when your cat is having a swell time with it. It is quite true that the felines are very resourceful; however, it is also easy for kittens playing with yarn to strangle themselves. Let’s just say that these delicate creatures have some complicated connection with string, but you can still go ahead and supply your house with balls of yarn, just for the simple reason of watching your furry friend get fascinated with it.
- Gary Landsberg, DVM, DACVB, Kitten Behavior and Training – Play and Investigative Behaviors, VCA Hospitals