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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)

Why does my cat bring me toys? It’s a question you may have found yourself asking when he or she paces up to you, stuffed mouse in their mouth, and drops it at your feet. 

In truth, there could be myriad reasons as to why they’re displaying this kind of behavior: they could be doing it as an indication that they want to play, they could be teaching you how to play, or they could be teaching you how to hunt. If they’re an outdoor cat, then they may even take this to a literal extreme, as anyone who has ever had the misfortune of having their cat bringing various wildlife (living or deceased) into the family home will testify!

Beyond this, the reasons are more varied. Cats are territorial animals by their nature, so the fact that they want to share with you should be taken as a compliment. They could be presenting it to you as a sign of affection for giving them the toy in the first place, asking you to look after it, or even letting you know that it needs to be repaired.

If your cat isn’t doing this, then maybe they need some more toys. Why not read our guide to the best cat toys, and in the process keep your furry pal purring and pleased? Read on to find out why your cat may be bringing you toys or any other gifts…

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. We would encourage you to oblige them, as it keeps them active and engages their mental faculties. Alternatively, if you’re busy and can’t be disturbed, getting them one of the best automated cat toys will keep them occupied when you can’t.

2. They see the toy as a trophy

Cats will instinctively hunt, stalk, and catch their prey, it being a honed instinct passed down through generations. 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 (my cat has an obsession with bringing me pieces of flowers for some reason), 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.

In summary...

So in short, if you’re wondering why your cat is bringing you toys and other gifts, then rest assured that it’s nothing to worry about. Your cat is only displaying behavior natural to them, with toys or other objects replacing the animals they would otherwise use in the wild. If you do want to discourage this behavior, then maybe they need some new distractions. Why not check out the various buying guides we mention earlier on in this article along with the best automatic laser cat toys for inspiration?

Steve Wright

Steve has combined editing and writing for publications like SciFiNow, How It Works and All About History with being a doormat to various cats and dogs. He lodges with two moggies called Giles and Willow, and will be told off if he doesn't mention his girlfriend's magnificent pooch, Toby.