Play imitates hunting and provides your cat with fun and stimulating exercise. It's important your fur friend gets enough exercise depending on their age and breed. So let's look at some tips for playing with your cat.
High-energy kitties require multiple play sessions per day, while calmer breeds can get away with twice-daily playtimes. Mornings and evenings are when cats are usually most active so these are often good times to play with your cat.
Marilyn Krieger, author of Naughty No More! and Catster's Ask a Behaviorist column shares some tips on playing with your cat.
“Play, when done correctly, mimics hunting — dopamine, a neurotransmitter, is released when cats play (and when they hunt). Whether the cat is indoors 24/7 or outdoors, playing also can help socialize cats and build and strengthen bonds between cats and people,” Krieger says.
Create your own
You don’t have to spend a fortune on toys for your cat. You can create your own toys, such as paper or foil balls (literally just scrunched up). Cats love them! Just be sure to throw them away when they start shedding small pieces - you don’t want your kitty ingesting it! Cardboard boxes are also a hit with cats (no DIY required unless you're this lady) or even try one of these crafty ideas!
Similarly, always make sure that your cat's toys are safe for them to play with. If your cat has a small toy mouse, for example, and has chewed the toy open, don’t let the cat ingest any of the stuffing. Keep an eye out for feathers that might shed from toys, and pick them up before they get swallowed. Also ensure that there aren’t any loose staples in cat scratchers, as it could snag your cat’s claw and cause an injury, or worse still be swallowed and cause internal damage.
Think about how a mouse darts about – it tends to moves erratically, not rhythmically. Mimic this movement by tugging on or flicking toys quickly and randomly, thereby replicating a hunting scenario to satisfy your cat’s hunting instincts.
Make it all about your kitty
“Rama, my black kitty, loves to play but plays best alone. I’m not sure whether he simply wants my exclusive attention or playing in a room with the other cats makes him feel exposed. It took some years of observation and getting to know Rama to figure this out. I keep a very special toy hidden in one room, tempt him in, and close the door, after which we toss the toy and play. He throws himself into it in a way that he will not do in front of other cats,” says Krieger.
All cats are different, so pay special attention to your cat’s mannerisms and behaviour to determine what they’re into. Most importantly: have fun!
Here are some other clever cat toy ideas that will likely appeal to your fur friend!
What are your cat's favourite playtime activities?