What Does It Mean When Cats Collect Socks?

Mimi might go through your clean laundry looking for your socks so she can play.
Mimi might go through your clean laundry looking for your socks so she can play. (Image: Janie Airey/Lifesize/Getty Images)

Your kitty has the most peculiar behavior: She gathers up all your socks and hides them in the corner. While you surely find it odd, to her it’s perfectly acceptable. She’s learning about you, playing and doing a bit of housework for you. If you’re always having a hard time finding the other sock in a pair, though, you might want to start locking up your hamper and keeping Mimi out of your bedroom while you’re gone.

Learning About You

Cats have a specialized instrument in the roofs of their mouths called the Jacobson’s organ, explains the Humane Society of the United States. This small patch of tissue is directly connected to the nasal cavity and enhances a cat's sense of smell. If you’ve ever seen your fuzzy companion standing in a pile of dirty socks with her mouth open, she’s not repulsed by the smell; rather she’s employing her Jacobson's organ to smell as intensely as possible. This way her brain can tell her all about the sock, which in return tells her what you have been doing all day.

Being Playful

Cats are, by nature, very curious creatures. They bat around just about everything in sight, just for pure amusement. When Mimi goes through your pile of dirty laundry and pulls out your socks, she’s just giving herself something to do. Socks—as well as underwear—are light enough for her to carry around. Plus they smell like you, making her feel close to you even while you’re away at work.

Cleaning Up

Watch Mimi the next time she uses her litter box. Odds are she’ll paw at the area around the box, sweeping away any litter she spilled, while removing any stuck-on litter from her paws. Felines are meticulously clean animals—hence bathing herself from top to bottom every time you pet her. When she scavenges along your bathroom floor, picking up socks, she’s cleaning up for you. Pat her on the head and thank her. After all, she’s doing her fair share of the housework.


Sometimes unspayed female kitties go through a nesting phase if they have recently lost a litter or if they are going through a false pregnancy, often caused by a hormonal imbalance. Mimi might gather your socks and put them in a pile as part of her nesting instincts. Even though her kittens aren't there, her body is telling her to get ready for nursing and caring for her young. You may see her sitting in the pile, sucking on the corner of a sock or kneading away happily. If you haven't had her spayed yet, you might want to get her in for a checkup just to see if she happens to be pregnant or if her hormone levels are abnormal. If she is getting over a recent loss of her kittens, it could just be a quirk that is part of her personality for the time being.

Special Tips

Give your beloved friend plenty of toys to play with to keep her away from your sock drawer. She should have a variety of toys to bat at, ranging from balls and furry mice to scratching posts with dangling feathers, spread all throughout the house. But if Mimi adores your socks, no matter how many kitty toys you give her, turn some of your old socks into toys for her. Fill an old sock with dried catnip and tie it in a knot. She’ll go bonkers playing with it, keeping out of your hair while you make dinner.

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