My 2-year-old female cat keeps collecting our belongings and putting them in her litter box. We just found my silver bracelet, my son’s chain, pencils and a variety of other things. What causes this behavior?
We often hear about cat hoarders (aka people who adopt more cats than they can handle), but it sounds like you have a hoarding cat! You are actually not alone, as many anecdotal reports exist of cats burying non-waste things in their litter box. Socks, for some reason, are common objects for this. Cats will also sometimes try to "bury" their food after they eat it, by digging on it and attempting to cover it up.
In the food digging case, it's not a message to you that the food is terrible; it's often an attempt by the cat to protect the stash from other felines or to disguise the smell, which could again attract other cats.
Various theories explain why cats might bury non-waste objects in the litter box. Some say the cats are just playing. Others think the objects irritate the cats in some way, causing felines to wish to dispose of them. Still others believe the cat might be attempting to protect its territory by safeguarding objects that have coveted human scents on them.
When your cat engages in this behavior, do you or another family member go to the litter box and give your cat attention? Cat owners can actually train their pets to do all sorts of ridiculous things, as long as the "reward" at the end is added attention (from your cat's perspective). Should your cat receive this attention, it will most likely do it again.