So I have a cat who's a bit of a loner. Really hates contact unless it's under his terms and he very rarely wants contact except for about 10 minutes in the morning. Unwanted contact is met with serious aggression. He's been neutered if that matters at all, and he's 5.

Now onto my question. Most nights he'll pick up his favorite toy and meow (which sounds more whiny than usual), bring it to us, then look at us, meowing expectantly. If we reach for the toy, he sits on our arms and look panicked in what I can only describe as a submissive/aggressive, almost playful, but slightly pathetic way. No biting unless it's very soft, which is very unusual for him. After we reach for it a couple of times, he'll take it away and return a couple minutes later, back to normal.

Question: What is this? What is he doing? Why?

  • 1
    Just a possibility, not worth to post as an answer, but it could be his "kitten" is dead and he is in mourning. A fake nest syndrome gone too far. Never heard a male cat do this though. Nov 28, 2013 at 19:34
  • Could this happen if he's never had a kitten? He's never even met another cat. Indoor cat with no desire to go out.
    – Ross Drew
    Nov 29, 2013 at 8:38
  • 1
    Yes it could, it is instincts and hormones. But a lot more likely with female cats. Nov 29, 2013 at 14:07

2 Answers 2


I see two possible explanations, and the reality may have a bit of both or more:

  • He might just want you to play with him.

  • The meowing you describe might be the kind of call an adult cat uses when announcing prey he/she caught; usually reserved for her kittens. While I have not personally witnessed toms behave this way, I have observed the behavior in cats which have been neutered for more than five years. Especially when bored and “catching” a pack of handkerchiefs.

I tried finding an example for this sound on YouTube, but had no luck. You could find something that sounds like your cat, or post a recording yourself for further analysis.

  • He's not really a playful cat, well not with humans at least, when he is he runs around mad thinking he's invisible pawing at your ankles so I don't think it's that. It could be the pray thing and that was my first port of call but it's the strange behavior afterwards. When you go near it he gets upset, if you reach for it he sits on your arm to stop you getting it, picks it up and moves it again and continues. I'll try recording it later, he does it most nights.
    – Ross Drew
    Nov 25, 2013 at 19:04
  • and he's not done it since, you think he's saw this on this stackExchange account?!
    – Ross Drew
    Nov 28, 2013 at 9:16
  • It seems just offering him a treat when he does it keeps him pretty happy. The other option I found was to throw the toy for him but that didn't work.
    – Ross Drew
    Dec 2, 2013 at 12:38

Of course you first want to rule out illness.

Cribbing from jacksongalaxy...
Animal life has circadian rhythms. Some expect a strict routine. They want to hunt, catch, eat, sleep. Attentions may encourage bad behavior. Your best tools are the timings of play & food.

My cat too, yowls (and brings a toy mouse to really make her point!) She seems to be parenting me much like this reddit user's cat does. Here are a bunch of funny but random anecdotes.

  • So you're saying the cat responds to the day/night cycle... but doesn't answer the question why he's bringing the toy - or why he looks panicked when they reach for it. Apr 11, 2015 at 7:25
  • I guess you're right. I think my cat is making a demand that I "eat" then sleep...
    – dvdrtrgn
    Apr 16, 2015 at 17:36

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