Why do cats attack sheets when you are making the bed? The answer is that domestic cats are attuned through sight and sound to detect movement and noise indicative of a prey ‘item’ e.g. a mouse.
Cats are able to detect prey at a distance and quick movements indicate prey items. It’s one reason why you shouldn’t really move your hands across a cat’s face if he or she is inclined to play with your hands. It’s better to move them slowly.
When you’re making a bed the sheets are being moved rapidly and, in my opinion, you are triggering a cat’s natural instincts to attack prey. For domestic cats all play is hunting and attacking prey and therefore when making the bed your cat will instinctively wish to play-hunt with the sheets, under the sheets and under the duvet because the whole process is full of movement and sound.
There are probably other elements to take into account as well. An additional factor might be that their ‘owner’s bed is a place full of human scent which your cat knows well and likes. He wants to merge his scent with the scent on the bedclothes. Admittedly these bedsheets might be recently laundered and therefore there will be less scent on them but the association between bed clothes and human scent has been learned by the domestic cat.
It’s a place where a cat wants to be, either to sleep which is commonplace, or in contact with their human companion or in this instance when the bed is being made up to play with the sheets. Beds are ‘scent-soakers’ in the language of Jackson Galaxy; great places for domestic cats to be.
There is also the hide element to feline play. Cats do like to hide under sheets and duvets as shown in the photo. Perhaps this is stalking before attack. Cats like to get as close to prey as possible and use cover whenever available to approach prey and attack over a short distance t improve kill rates. Hiding under sheets is using cover to prepare for an attack.
These are my personal thoughts. I have written this without referring to any reference book.
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