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Why Do Cats Like Hair Ties? 6 Likely Reasons

Nicole Cosgrove Profile Picture

By Nicole Cosgrove

cat playing hair tie on the floor

As cat lovers, we all know how the oddest and most insignificant things can keep your cat entertained for hours, like a hair tie. If you are one of those girls who leave hair ties in every area of the house, only to find your cat having a good old time with it , you know how much fun this simple item can be for a cat.

But why do cats like something so plain and simple such as a hair tie? In this article, we’ll talk about the likely reasons and whether or not you should keep hair ties out of your kitty’s reach.

The 6 Possible Reasons Cats Like Hair Ties

1. It’s Instinctual

Many people may not be aware that cats engage in predatory behavior during play, which is necessary for their health and well-being. They are born predators, and even though they make great domestic cats, they will always carry the instinct to hunt. You may have noticed that when your cat catches a mouse or lizard or even finds something in the yard resembling prey, like moving grass, they play with it similarly.

If they see a hair tie lying around and perhaps kick it by accident to make it move, it will be instinctual to explore and figure out what it could be and if it is a potential threat. If you shoot it across the room or slide it across the floor as part of a thrilling game, they won’t resist the urge to chase it. That is why cat toys are usually designed to look like something that a cat would typically prey on, like a mouse or bird.

cat lying on the floor hiding behind the curtain
Image Credit: Mantikorra, Shutterstock

2. They Enjoy the Texture

The texture of a particular hair tie can trigger your cat’s instinctual nature. The texture will add interest to the way it moves, how it feels, and how it looks. If the hair tie is fluffy or crinkly, it could pique your cat’s interest because it may resemble prey or sound like something rustling in the leaves.

3. They are Attracted to the Smell

Another interesting reason your cat is attracted and intrigued by hair bands is the chemicals in the rubber. Cats, being the natural predators that they are, have a strong sense of smell. While humans have 5 million olfactory receptors that pick up different smells, a cat’s nose has 46–80 million!

With a sense of smell as strong as that, our cats smell something in hair ties that we cannot detect ourselves. There are also different chemicals that they pick up on, such as chemicals found in plastic, not to mention the familiar smell of their owner if the hair tie has been worn a few times. These different scents will pique your cat’s interest.

young bengal cat playing an interactive toy
Image Credit: Evdokimova, Shutterstock

4. Curiosity

The well-known phrase, “curiosity killed the cat,” rings true for a good reason. Cats are so curious, to the point that it may cause harm. You may have seen your cat risk a high jump or attempt to play with something sharp because they are such curious creatures.

If a hair tie is lying on a table or wrapped around your wrist, it may be too interesting to resist.

5. Hoarding

As we know, cats are hunters, but they are also opportunistic hunters, meaning that they are ready to pounce or stalk any prey they come across, even if they are not hungry. A hair tie can be perceived as prey, and your cat may keep it, like how we would keep a trophy. If it were prey and your cat wasn’t hungry, it would store it and save it for later.

If you have suddenly lost a bunch of hair ties, it would be a great idea to check under your couch or somewhere else you may suspect your cat could hide them!

Russian Blue cat playing toys indoor
Image Credit: milivigerova, Pixabay

6. Stress

Humans have many ways of dealing or coping with stress, and that may include playing their favorite video game, going for a run, or even just listening to music. Our pets are the same, and if your cat is feeling stressed from your recent move or encounter with the neighbor’s cat, it will need to find a way to cope just like we do.

Cats can relieve their stress by playing as it is a fun distraction that can help them bounce back into a playful mood. Play is an important part of relieving stress for cats as it releases those feel-good hormones, and a hair tie may be the sort of play that your cat enjoys.

Are Hair Ties Dangerous for Your Cat?

While your cat can play with almost anything, including hair ties, it is crucial to keep an eye on them. A hair tie may seem harmless, but it is a small object that your cat may get carried away with in all the fun and end up swallowing the hair tie.

If your cat accidentally or purposefully swallows a hair tie, it can choke, which can be fatal.

If your cat manages to swallow the hair tie, it could get lodged somewhere in its digestive system, causing a blockage from food building up. A blockage can cause pressure on the intestinal wall, which can cause it to rupture, which can be life-threatening. The hair tie could also potentially snap, which may be even more dangerous as the elastic can cut through the intestinal wall.

As sweet as it is watching our cat jump and pounce around over a hair tie, their safety has to come first, so you should remove it right away. Better yet, try not to leave any hair ties lying around where your cat can find them and avoid using them to interact with your cat.

Cat Chewing on toy
Image Credit: Dorothe, Pixabay


Cats like hair ties because they trigger their instincts. From texture to movement and even smell, it provides interest, and a curious cat will undoubtedly end up playing with it. A cat’s predatory instincts must occasionally surface for the benefit of the cat’s well-being.

Although something as simple as a hair tie may provide your cat with entertainment, and it’s tempting as a cat owner to get involved, it’s best to try and keep hair ties out of their reach because if they somehow swallow it, it could cause health issues and even end up being fatal.

Featured Image Credit: Tsomka. Shutterstock

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