Why Does My Cat Steal My Socks?
And how do I make him stop!
A Club Cattitude member, who wishes to remain anonymous, recently sent this question to me via the Ask Rita section of the clubhouse:
My cat is constantly taking my socks and hiding them, sometimes trying to take them right off my feet! WHY does my cat steal my socks, and how can I get him to stop?
My Feet Are COLD!
This is a problem I can relate to PURRsonally. My kitten, 10-month-old Simba, is obsessed with my socks!
I believe because I brought him home in warm weather months and he never saw socks on my feet until recently, sock stealing has become a game to Simba.
Here is is, trying to take the socks (and sometimes slippers!) right off my feet. Let me tell you, those teeth and nails hurt, so of course he wins! Once he gets a hold of them, he snuggles up with my socks, or takes them to his favorite pillow bed for later.
So, why do some cats find socks so irresistible?
- Socks are soft and the material often feels like what their cat nip toys are made from
- Feet are squishy and they move! Cats will stalk your feet like prey, then grab hold and bunny-kick or bite, just as they would their prey in nature.
- Your feet, well, smell! Not that they necessarily smell bad, but they smell like YOU, your cat’s favorite human, which is why my Simba will take my socks to his bed to sleep with.
You can do one of two things; let your cat continue to have his fun and take the socks off your feet, at the expense of your feet (just because his antics make you laugh), or you can teach him that is a not nice thing to do, and is painful for you.
Now you’re wondering, how do I teach this bundle of fluffy claws and teeth not to attack my feet?
It’s just the same as teaching your cat anything else; there has to be ZERO PAY OFF for him when he takes your socks. Don’t laugh, don’t reward him by petting him or picking him up, don’t trade him a toy or a treat for your socks, otherwise he will keep doing it to get the reward/pay off.
This is what I am doing to stop my Simba from stealing my socks:
- I wear my socks when we’re watching TV at night, and I put my feet under a pillow if Simba starts coming nearby with grabbing my feet on his mind (you can tell, he gets into stalk position!)
- Also I will wear my socks to bed, so when he gets under the covers with me he is too tired to stalk them we’re in cuddle mode, and he gets used to seeing them.
- Keeping a pair of clean socks on my couch has seemed to dull their allure for Simba as well.
- During this period, while he still may grab my socked feet every now and then as he is learning, I wear these extra-thick sock slippers so I don’t get painful bites and scratches.
- When/if he does still grab my feet, I exclaim “OW” in a loud voice to startle him into letting go. My cats also know the word “easy” means I want them to lighten their grip on me.
Just as with anything you’re teaching your cat, patience and consistency are the keys to success, and in this case to feet that stay both warm and unbitten.