Why Do Cats Like Dirty Socks? (The Surprising Reasons)

You often wonder why your cat gravitates toward some of the grossest things in the home like your dirty socks and sweaty shoes. Whenever you come back into the home, you find your cat going nuts over your socks. What is it that makes them seem so obsessed with dirty socks?

Why do cats like dirty socks? Cats live in the world of scent and he likes your socks because of the concentrates pheromones in them. Socks have a concentrated scent on them even more than your other clothes. It smells bad to humans, but your cat likes it because he enjoys your scent. Cats communicate with their sense of smell.

If you’d like to see a more in-depth explanation about why your cat likes your dirty socks, keep reading.

Claiming Your Socks, Claiming You

Again, cats communicate through their sense of smell. By rubbing their cheeks up along your socks, it adds their own scent to your scent, which creates a communal smell. You might think of this as a group scent that cats can use to identify each other. Humans don’t have strong enough noses to smell group scents.

Your socks carry a strong odor that smells more like you than anything else in the home. By doing this, you can think of him as saying, “We’re family.”

Beware of changing the socks out and removing them from his reach in his view. Your cat will feel confused and hurt by your actions. Think of it like when you go to shake someone’s hand and they refuse. That would give the same feeling to your cat.

You could a pair of socks out to keep your cat feeling content even when you’re not around.

A clean sock has less appeal to your cat because of how it doesn’t have the same odor. Your cat sees dirty socks as an object of his affection due to the smell. Think of this as a sign of love from your little buddy.

Do They Do This After You Come Indoors?

If your cat appears to go crazy over your socks upon you coming inside, they may do this for a couple of reasons. First, especially if it was hot outside, you sweat in your socks and create a stronger scent. Your cat will love that.

The other reason your cat may do this has to do with his fascination with the scents in the outdoors. Especially if he has never experienced the outdoors, he will smell a host of odors outside that he has never experienced before, which intrigues him.

The final possibility comes from your cat restaking his claim on you as you come back from outside. He wants to create the communal scent with you. Especially if you played with another cat in the outdoors, they want to make it clear to other cats that you belong to them. Cats behave territorially, and they often will only tolerate each other.

Pheromones and Cats: They Love It

Cats identify their owners more through their scent than even through sight. How interesting is that? Pheromones release through the sweat on one’s body. Since humans have a high concentration of sweat on their feet, they also have a high concentration of pheromones on their feet. This passes along into your dirty socks and makes the cat go wild for it.

When your cat smells your scent, he will feel comforted and safe. Leaving a pair of dirty socks for him can become a source of comfort. Shoes operate in the same way to attract cats in that they contain the pheromones to bring the cat closer to you.

Along with your dirty socks, cats also feel attracted to your dirty underwear. As gross as it may seem, you can learn more about the reasons for it here.

Sense of Smell and the Vomeronasal Organ

You may not realize it, but cats have an extra organ that helps them smell more. This extra olfactory organ has the name vomeronasal organ. It sits at the roof of their mouth. Whenever your cat uses this organ, you can usually tell because of how he wrinkles his nose, opens his mouth wide or he sticks his tongue out.

Some of the other creatures known to have it include:

  • Big cats
  • Lizards
  • Snakes
  • Horses
  • Dogs

Many times, cats will use it whenever they smell something that they haven’t smelled before. Have you ever seen your cat do this with your dirty socks? It may be that you picked up extra odors on it that your cat finds interesting.

Doing This Makes Him Feel Confident and Secure

Cats mark their territory around the house to feel more confident about themselves. If you’re lucky, they simply grab a pair of your dirty socks and rub themselves up against it. If you’re unlucky, they will pee at every window, every nook and cranny to show themselves as the dominant cat.

Marking your territory through scent is a feline behavior that you will never stop your cat from doing. Instead, I would recommend learning how to channel it harmlessly. If he can’t do it harmlessly, he will do it by urinating. They live in the world of scent. My gray little weird one marks his scent through licking things like windows—that’s better than urination, so I’ll take it!

Scent markers, especially outside, will serve as a form of navigation.

Cats and Dirty Socks: Try This Fun Experiment

The next time your cat rubs himself up against your dirty socks, grab a clean pair and put it alongside him. Does he seem as interested in the clean pair of socks? Many people report that the cat will be more interested in the dirty pair.

However, I have a cat that likes the smell of clean laundry, and he often propels himself toward that as well. It depends on the cat.

Understanding Cats and Their Love of the Dirty!

Cats love dirty things because of the odor that comes from them. If your cat appears attracted to your dirty socks, it most likely has to do with the strong scent coming from it. He loves the smell because he can smell you in it. Contrary to popular belief, cats aren’t quite as aloof as they appear. In fact, they dislike being left alone for longer than three or four days.

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