Why Do Cats Steal Things And Should You Worry ?

If you’re wondering why do cats steal things you’ve come to the right place. Whether your kitty is the neighborhood cat burglar, or she just loves collecting objects, this post will provide answers.

All cats are natural hoarders and hiding prey is instinctive. Even domesticated cats often exhibit this behavior despite being well fed.

Keep reading as we look at some of the various reasons your cat may be stealing. Of course, non can be proven as cats can’t talk, but it’s fun to wonder and come up with ideas!

All cats are different and have their own agenda. While your’s may be attention seeking, others may steal to satisfy hunting instincts.

Dusty The Cat Burglar

Attention Seeking

A fairly common reason cats steal things is to gain attention. If your kitty takes small objects such as hair ties or ribbons she may be prompting you to chase and play.

Cats love interacting with their owners and chasing games provide huge entertainment. You see it’s not just dogs that enjoy fetching and chasing after objects.

It’s even more fun if you’ve forbidden your cat to take a certain item. As all cat parents know felines are highly intelligent.

In fact, you can often see cats working out problems by looking at their expressions. Of course we’re not talking Einstein here, but simple ways to grab attention.


A bored cat soon finds ways to entertain herself. Whether that’s pinching a hair tie from the drawer, or running off with a shiny bottle cap it’s all good fun!

Even if you work from home as many of us do now your cat will still crave attention. Unless you make time for play, stealing may be the only way to get you to notice and relieve boredom.

Cats are masters at finding ways to amuse themselves. Apart from stealing, other fun activities include pouncing or sitting on laptops.

If you go out all day without leaving toys for your cat to play with expect chaos! Even older cats need a distraction.

It’s not unheard of for cats to move items including socks or even jewellerly. Most times they’re not deliberately trying to hide their ill gotten gains but simply playing with them.

Your cat may be bored and batting a hair tie across the floor provides mental stimulation. As a result, you may find many “lost” objects in unusual places:)

Teaching You To Hunt

why do cats steal things-teaching you to hunt

One theory as to why cats steal things is they use them as teaching aids. By this I mean teaching their human family to hunt.

It’s quite possible your cat sees you as a poor hunter who hasn’t got a clue how to catch prey! Although you provide her with food, she doesn’t see you come home with prey!

Stealing items from outside and bringing them home is more unusual but could be your cats way of showing you her hunting skills. Although dead or living animals would usually be prey, hair bands or other items pinched may be as well!

Maternal Instinct

Interestingly, it’s believed speyed females are more likely to bring stolen presents home than males. This is thought to be a maternal drive.

Instead of passing her skills on to kittens she’s teaching you. Feel flattered as it shows she cares enough to pass her knowledge on to you:)

Female cats are known to have strong maternal instincts. In fact speying doesn’t affect the drive to protect their young in any way.

Another way females can display maternal instincts is by stealing a favorite toy and carrying it their mouth. I had a cat who frequently did this and used to carry a stuffed toy around.

She would make howling noises and I felt it could have been a sad flashback at losing her babies. We adopted her from a rescue center and knew she’d had kittens.

Showing Gratitude For Your Care

why do cats steal-showing gratitude

While many believe cats to be cold and aloof, this couldn’t be further from the truth. In fact, the bond between a human and cat can be very strong.

It’s quite possible your cat is stealing and bringing you her spoils as a reward! While a hair tie or rusty bottle top may not seem the best gift, your kitty may see those items as valuable!.

Do You Have A Kitty Hoarder?

As I mentioned at the beginning of this post, cats are natural hoarders. Catching prey and hiding it somewhere safe is instinctive to felines.

The reason for this is to hide any trails from predators. Although there are no big cats waiting to pounce on your kitty, it’s ingrained behavior.

If you’re out at work each day you probably feed your cat once in the morning and when you get home. While this is fine, cats are actually evolved to eat small meals throughout the day.

It’s quite possible your cat may be stealing and hiding items mimicking this natural behavior. Of course, there’s no way of knowing if it’s food related or not.

You could however consider an automatic feeder for when you’re out. Maybe dispense kibble for your kitty so she can snack when she wants.

Alternatively, food puzzle toys satisfy the need for multiple hunts throughout the day. In addition, they’re mentally stimulating and relieve boredom.

OCD (Compulsive Obsessive Disorder)

It’s not only humans that get OCD as our pets can as well. In fact your kitty may be displaying this behavior by stealing and stockpiling your belongings!

Finding a stash of paperclips or hair ties under the bed shows your cat has been busy!If you’re concerned about this odd behavior you could talk to your vet.

In most cases hoarding and stealing are harmless pastimes your cat has adopted. However, in some cases it could be a sign of illness.

As I’ve often mentioned, cats are very clever at hiding illness. You really have to watch closely for signs.

Stealing and obsessively hoarding could be a way your cat is getting relief from certain symptoms. Your vet would carry out tests to rule out any problems.

Territorial Behavior

Another possible answer to “why do cats steal things” is claiming territory. Remember, in your cat’s mind she is the owner of everything in your home!

Stealing and hoarding favorite toys isn’t uncommon in multiple cat households. If one of your cats favors a particular toy she may steal and hide it somewhere she feels safe.

This would probably be her bed! Also, you may find your cats fighting as they squabble over toys like kids!

Can You Prevent Your Cat Becoming A Kleptomaniac?

If lack of attention is the issue then make time for play with your cat. You only need to spend around 15 minutes twice a day, but it could make a big difference.

If your cat’s hoarding is food related behavior try the tips suggested previously. It’s still possible your cat will continue to steal though if it’s become a fun activity!

Invest in cat toys to keep your kitty entertained. Often cats get bored with same toys and rotating them or introducing new ones will keep her happy.

Engaging your cat with toys will distract her kitty mind from plotting to steal! Never scold your cat though as it may on reinforce unwanted behavior.

Always reward good behavior and ignore bad unless you want more of the same:) A cuddle or treat will certainly do the trick.

Final Thoughts

I hope this article has given you an insight into cat behavior and answered the question “why do cats steal things?” As you’ve discovered there are many reasons, but only your cat will know which one!

It’s fun to wonder about this strange trait and come to your own conclusion. Always be mindful though of small objects such as paperclips.

They could be very dangerous if swallowed and cause internal damage. While they may be passed out in feces, blockages could occur.

Always consult your vet if you’re at all worried about any unusual behavior. As previously mentioned, most of the time stealing and hoarding are just fun activities.

If you’ve enjoyed this post please share. Feel free to share this pin on your “pets” board

Also if you have any experiences you’d like to share leave a comment below.

Wishing you a purrfect day

Leave a Comment

Join Our Cat Loving Community!

Get Cat Care 101, Plus regular blog post updates...

We respect your privacy.