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I've noticed over many years of cat ownership, a lot of my cats have a very excited interest in bedmaking. My current cat will come from any corner of the apartment when he hears me start to shake out the sheets and blankets, and scrambles under each blanket as I put them on my bed. This happens when I make beds at my mom's, too, where you can have up to four cats scrambling to get under the covers.

What is it about the putting blankets on my bed that is so very exciting to my cat? Is it just a random amusement for them, or does it have some deeper meaning?

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You see making the bed, the cat sees that parachute game from elementary school gym class... :) –  jonsca Feb 9 at 0:55
    
Do you have a morning ritual? Get up, brush teeth, make bed, feed cat(s) maybe? –  user9 Feb 10 at 16:00
    
@Chad no, the bed making usually happens at random, if I make it. (A lot of mornings I don't.) –  Ashley Nunn Feb 10 at 17:58
    
Do you ever play with your cats under the sheets? For example wiggling your toes to get them to attack them? Or do you let them climb into the "cave" under the sheets with you when you're going to bed at night? I do both, and think that's probably why they get so excited when I make the bed. To them, its probably a rustling place where toys are hidden, and full of mysterious caves :) –  Rachel Feb 25 at 18:12
    
@Rachel I never considered it like that...that could totally be part of it! –  Ashley Nunn Feb 25 at 20:58

3 Answers 3

I cannot provide a definitive explanation. I only have my own anecdotal assumptions.

I have always assumed that the cats which do this are motivated by their prey drive and their "need" to hunt & stalk.

Cats differ as to how they express this need. A common way people experience a cat's prey drive is as an obsession to chase a dangling piece of string. A more elaborate cat toy designed to stimulate this same impulse are the wand toys such as "Da Bird" (example pic below).

Cat going after Da Bird

Media figure Jackson Galaxy advocates regular "play therapy" with your cat(s) in order to satisfy what he considers an innate need to hunt. I tend to agree with this advice, though I don't know if it has ever been investigated (verified) in a formal fashion.

When you make the bed, the cats can be attracted by the sheets flying through the air and attempt to pounce on and catch them.

Another motivation can be either to explore or hide in the small "burrow" created when they get underneath the sheets.

Whether a cat is playing or hunting when they do this does not strike me as something worth debating. It is likely different elements of each for different cats.

I have several cats, but only one of them is especially interested in "playing" when I am trying to make the bed. I find it extremely annoying. (I also really miss it the occasional times he does not do it.)

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+1 for the relationship to hunting. –  James Jenkins Feb 9 at 11:52
    
Gotta love the last line "I find it extremely annoying. (I also really miss it the occasional times he does not do it.)" That's exactly the situation here too :) –  Esa Paulasto Feb 13 at 20:54
    
Maybe it also has to do with an instinct that when burrows are disturbed, mice scatter; perhaps they expect to find fleeing mice under the bedsheets? –  Kimball Robinson Feb 25 at 17:29

View yourself from the cat's perspective. Cats aren't used to changing their environments. I've never seen a cat move bedding around, they just sleep wherever they feel comfortable. As far as they perceive it, the home in which you live is a natural environment that has always been there and will always be there.

So when you move around your bedding, changing disheveled sheets, blankets, and pillows into a smooth, covered surface, they are seeing something in their world change in a big way. They must find it fascinating! Why wouldn't they be interested enough to at least watch? I would be surprised if they didn't.

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I'm not sure what you mean by "I've never seen a cat move bedding around". I have at least two cats who crawl under the covers fairly regularly. I have to be careful to check the bed for "lumps" before sitting on it. –  irrational John Mar 9 at 7:28

There are a lot of elements that could factor into the interest:

  1. The hunting / fun aspect as @irrationalJohn mentioned. Moving sheets look and sound much like a cat's natural prey.

  2. Cats in general are interested / afraid in any change to their environment.

  3. The bed is a very important place in the cat's world. It is usually the safe house that they run to. It smells the most like his people when they are not there. It often is the prime nap spot. A troubled cat often uses the bed to signal distress to the owners.

So, a change to the bed can have an even larger symbolic impact to the cat, and there might be a bigger need to reclaim that space right away by being a part of the process. It is similar to cats who dig in a litterbox immediately after it has been cleaned up.

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