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Why does my cat bring me toys and other gifts?

A grey cat holding a toy in his mouth
(Image credit: Getty)

The question 'why does my cat bring me toys?' is one you may have found yourself asking on numerous occasions if you have a kitty who loves to drop their stuffed mouse or feather wand at your feet. And while it's tempting to assume they simply want to play, it turns out there are several of reasons that could be driving this behavior.

You've probably noticed by now that cats are highly territorial, so if you've gifted them one of the best cat toys and they in turn gift it back to you, that's a huge compliment! Bringing you their favorite toy (and entrusting you with it) is a huge sign of affection, but beyond that, there are some other reasons they may be dropping that flapping fish at your feet.

Sometimes your cat will view their most loved toys as a trophy and presenting them to you is a way of showing you what a special item this is to them. If they've been chasing it around the house and 'caught' it, then they might also present it to you as a trophy in the same way they might drop a dead mouse or bird at your feet to show you what a clever boy or girl they are!

Let's take a little peek inside your feline friends mind and have a closer look at some of the reasons they may be bringing you their favorite toys...

1. They want to play

It’s the simplest explanation here, but if you’ve been away from the house for most of the day then your cat will likely be starved of attention, and want an immediate top-up. This is usually the case if they’ve bought you a stuffed toy – or even another object that could be used as a toy – and dropped it at your feet. 

If you find your kitty is particularly demanding around this, engaging them in 10-15 minutes of play is likely to make a huge difference to their behavior. But don't worry if you don't have time to meet their need in that moment because the best automated cat toys can help keep them occupied until you're free to play.  

2. They see the toy as a trophy

Cats will instinctively hunt, stalk, and catch their prey, because those are the instincts that are embedded into their DNA. This is why outdoor cats have been known to bring in the grisly relics of their ‘hunt’ – they see what they have caught as a trophy, and are presenting it to you as such, either as a reward for you, or as their means of contribution to the household! In the absence of live prey, indoor cats will use cat toys as a substitute, hence why they are bringing them to you. 

In the absence of toys, they may even bring you items of clothing or other objects, possibly as a way of teaching you how to hunt. It may be that you find this behavior endearing and don’t want to discourage it, but if you do, we recommend checking out some of our buying guides to provide them with some alternative means of amusement!  

Cat with a bird in it's mouth

(Image credit: Getty)

3. As a sign of love or trust

If your cat purrs or bumps their head against you before or after dropping the toy off near you, then it’s probably safe to say that they’re doing this as a sign of affection. As previously mentioned, cats are very territorial, and the fact that they are willing to share their hunting spoils with you is very much intended as a compliment, showing their trust and respect for you. If you pet them afterwards, it will show them that you reciprocate and appreciate their actions. Similarly, it may even be the case that they trust you enough to look after it, so are leaving it with you for safekeeping. 

Some even theorize that cats see humans as poor hunters, unable to care for themselves, and are bringing you this gift as a way to look after you. Either way, if they are bringing things to you, then it’s almost certainly a positive sign for your relationship.

4. To get you to fix it

If your cat has a favorite toy that's looking a little worse for wear and they're regularly bringing it to you, it's likely that they're trying to point out that their much-loved stuffed mouse is in need of a little TLC.

This is particularly likely if they have a catnip-filled toy that they can't get enough of that's running low on the good stuff. Make sure you repair any damaged toys or replace when they're past the point of fixing, and keep catnip toys well filled up so that they don't lose any of their enticing aroma.

In summary...

Rest assured that your kitty frequently bringing you toys and other gifts is nothing to worry about - if anything, it's a positive thing. Your feline friend is simply choosing to include you in behaviors that would come naturally to them in the wild and that they'd indulge in with other members of their clowder, a huge honor indeed! 

Steve writes and proofreads buying guides, news stories and advice for Pets Radar, drawing on his lifelong experience as a pet owner. Currently sharing his house with two cats and a dog, he draws on the many highs and occasional lows of pet ownership he has borne witness to in his writing. He has worked in publishing for 15 years as an editor, sub editor and writer on a range of titles, such as SciFiNow, How It Works, All About History, Real Crime and Horrorville. You can follow him on Twitter @stevewright22