Is your cat carrying a toy and yowling around your home?
It’s actually a fairly common behavior. I’ve had 4-5 cats over the years that would carry one of their play toys around and yowl or meow to get my attention.
Whether you want to better understand why your cat is doing this, what they want, or how you can stop it – I have put together some information that will help.
In this article I’ve covered some of the main reasons why cats exhibit this behavior. Why it’s more common for them to yowl and carry toys around at night than during the day, and the things you can do to address this strange (yet surprisingly common) kitty behavior.
Cat Carrying Toy and Yowling? 3 Reasons to Explain This Behavior
They Want You to Play with Them
I had a cat many years ago that would carry her fluffy toy mouse around meowing when she wanted to play.
I think I started it because I liked playing fetch with her. Yes, she would fetch her mouse if I threw it and bring it back to me. So we used to do quite often.
Much like a child (which I also have), she would then demand attention and want to play when she was in the mood and would get my attention by bringing me the mouse and yowling.
In this instance, this was a pretty easy one to figure out. I’d start playing with her and she’d be happy and stop following me around meowing.
I’ve had friends, however, with cats that pace around exhibiting the same behavior that have never played with the toy they are carrying and don’t play fetch.
So, while this is one of the more common reasons. If this doesn’t help explain your cat’s behavior, please read on to see if any of the other reasons might be the root cause for your cat.
They Are Announcing Their ‘Catch’
A number of cat’s behaviors can be tied back to instinctual behaviors. Carrying a toy around and yowling is one such behavior that mimics what they would do in the wild after catching some prey.
When a cat catches something in the wild that they are going to share with other cats, they are very vocal about it. As as cats that are being protective over what they’ve caught.
Back to the current situation at hand – to us, it’s pretty obvious it’s just a stuffed toy and doesn’t make a lot of sense why they’d behave like this. But when a cat’s natural instinct takes over they do some crazy things.
I know this is was the case for one friend of mine. His cat used to be an expert hunter and would bring in half dead rodents and birds. Which is exactly what you don’t want to find when you come down in the morning.
After finding one too many disemboweled mice in his home, he decided to start locking his cat in overnight.
His cat started getting his fix by ‘catching’ a toy mouse and announcing he’d caught and killed it by yowling while it was in his mouth.
We laugh about it, and while parading a toy mouse and making a racket about it is still annoying sometimes, it’s a lot better for the local wildlife and my friend to not find dead, or half-dead rodents!
They Are Displaying ‘Mothering’ Instincts
Some female cats will carry toys around and yowl just as they would if they were caring for a kitten. I’ve spoken with a lot of cat owners that have seen this behavior with a female cat that has never had a litter, as well as some cats that have. So it can be the reason for cats that haven’t even had a litter of their own, which is interesting.
It’s another example of a cat falling back onto those inbuilt patterns of behavior that come to them naturally. It’s quite curious to witness and makes you wonder if they are yearning to have kittens, or it’s just something they are confused about.
If you can rule out the other reasons, so you know they don’t want to play or hunt, then this might just be the reason why your cat carries toys and yowls.
Has your cat been spayed? If not, doing so might put a stop to this behavior. I know I’ve spoken with people who said their cats only did this when they were on their heat cycle, and said spaying them put a stop to it.
It’s not as dramatic a thing as you may think either. The ASPCA recommends having pets spayed, as do I. With the ever growing homelessness crisis in the US, and some of the health benefits associated with spaying a cat, I recommend it.
Why Do Cats Yowl with Toys in Their Mouths More at Night?
This may or may not be true in your case, but for most people, their cats will yowl with a cat toy in their mouths at night more than during the day. (Here are some reasons why cats yowl at night.)
The most obvious reason for this is because cats are nocturnal by nature. A lot of indoor cats get into a pattern of sleeping overnight (and most of the day) so we often forget they are nocturnal animals. Nope, that’s not the right word. Crepuscular (active during twilight and dusk) is the correct term.
So technically, cats are actually crepuscular. Which means they are active during the day and the night – their most active time of day is when light is fading in/out. Which suits cats as they will nap on and off round the clock and be active in between. But young male cats in particular can be very active hunting at night.
It’s when these natural hunting instincts kick in at night that a lot of cats will walk around with a toy in their mouth simulating that they’ve caught and killed something.
Plus, let’s not forget that you’re sleeping at night. Which means you poor cat is going to be starved of attention. Hence, why one of the reasons cats do this is because they want to play with you.
How to Stop You Cat Meowing and Carrying Their Toys?
Well, first of all you need to know why your cat is behaving like this. If it’s due to the first reason I explained above – being bored and wanting to play – you know how to solve this, don’t you?
Play with them more! If they are waking you at night, you need to start scheduling in some play time in the evening before going to bed.
I’ve had to do this with more than one cat in the past. I can tell you that in my experience it’s not as hard or as time consuming as you may think.
Just 30 minutes or so of play time is enough to tire out most cats and give them their fix of simulating hunting.
If the reason your cat is yowling with their toy is because they are fulfilling their nocturnal hunting needs however, it’s not as easy to put a stop to in my experience.
When night falls and those predatory instincts take over, it’s hard to stop a cat hunting around the home for their toys and making a noise about it. It might be that your cat needs to be spayed/neutered.
If you’re the kind of person that likes to jump to the end of an article or skin though, as I do, then I can summarize for you. If your cat is carrying their toys around and yowling at night, it’s likely due to one of the following reasons:
- They want you to play with them (but you want to sleep, of course)
- They are displaying and exhibiting natural hunting instincts
- They are displaying mothering instincts
If you can figure out which of the above applies to your cat, great. You’re probably going to have to have them spayed/neutered, give them some more attention, and be patient while you find a way to put a stop to it.
8 thoughts on “Cat Carrying a Toy and Yowling? Here’s Why”
I’ve found a simple way to keep my cat from yowling at night (when it is more prevalent). It’s the only way I can get a decent night’s sleep. I just put his toy(s) out of reach until I wake up. Works for me, and the cat doesn’t seem too worse for wear.
This worked great for us for years….until this last month. He’s started digging through the trash to find new “toys” to carry around and yowl with, and now we can’t stop him from spreading trash everywhere. I have no idea what to do.
Ever thought of taking out your trash? Maybe covering your trash can with a lid or putting away your trash somewhere he can’t get to at night like you did his toys? Just a few ideas…
My spayed female cat started carrying toys, then bundled socks. And then slippers. Now she carries shoes, deck shoes, work boots, winter boots, my slender little white princess cat, Ge twelve, carries them all and leaves them beside my bed and in the hall. Most nights are Eight Shoe Nights. When I have been traveling and come home to her I get the most shoes. She has never had kittens. She was born into my hands. I believe that she is exhibiting mothering instincts and minces in delight when I tell her that she is a terrific mother. She’s just very loving and giving.
I have 5 female cats and 1 male. They are all neutered. The females are notorious for carrying around their toys and yowling loudly while doing so. One in particular will bring the toy to me if I call her and once she drops it at my feet, the yowling stops. The others don’t bring their toys to me, but just go through the house yowling away. After reading this article, I believe they are in the category of ‘catching prey’ and letting all the others know what great hunters they are! Very interesting article!
Very informative article, my male cat does this alot carries a toy and yowls I believe it’s the hunter in him the reason for this behavior makes sense now. I will give him more attention and praise from now on
Umm, cats aren’t nocturnal. They’re crepuscular. I stopped reading there because it’s pretty clear you have no clue what you’re talking about.
We recently adopted two cats, bonded, mostly Siamese, sisters, one year old, neutered, from a local rescue center. Once they acclimated to our home, one of the cats started picking up my wife’s slippers. Yowling all the while, she proudly pranced into the living room carrying the slipper with her head elevated. I started praising her and petting her pretending like she had caught us a “gazelle” or some other prey, and wanted to share her catch. She has since every day once or twice carried her catch, usually, but not always, dropping it close to us. Sometimes, after a minute or two, she will pick it up again and carry it under the bed, or downstairs…wherever. It’s all pretty funny, but also perplexing. Our other cat thinks she’s nuts, and just stares at her in disbelief.