As well as being lots of fun, playing with their cat is a great way for owners to maintain a strong bond between animal and human, and ensure their pet stays fit and well. Both kittens and adult cats are generally stimulated by the same sort of play (most variants of cat play revolve around themes of hunting). However, it is fair to say that kittens, with their boundless energy and seemingly endless appetite for mischief, require significantly less encouragement to get playing than adult or senior cats!
So what is the best way for owners to make the most of playtime with their pets?
Invest in suitable toys
It should go without saying that every cat should have at least one good toy to play with. Simulating ‘hunting prey’ situations will lead even relatively placid cats to scratch and bite when they get really excited so owners need to have a decent toy to hand which their moggy can attack to their heart’s content. Owners should not use their hands and fingers for cat play as their animals will eventually start to associate them with hunting and killing just as much as they will with fussing and pet feeding.
Types of toys
There are lots of different types of cat toys available nowadays. Toys that have bells or ‘squeakers’ are always good options, particularly for cats that get left on their own for prolonged periods, as the noise they create acts as an extra stimulus. Sometimes, the sound of a familiar squeak or chime is all that’s needed to get a cat into full-on play mode!
Another excellent option is the type of toy that has a ball, mouse or feather tethered to the end of a piece of string (sometimes the string is also attached to a stick, kind of like a fishing rod). These toys make it easy for owners to simulate moving prey for their cat without putting their own fingers and thumbs in the line of fire!
How often should owners play with their cats?
In an ideal world, owners would set aside time to enjoy two play sessions a day with their cats, Although this is not always possible, it is a good benchmark to aim for. Cats that start to get a bit ‘hyper’ at night time can often benefit from having some playtime just before bed as this can help them to become more settled. In time, most conscientious owners will discover for themselves when the best times are to indulge in a bit of feline play. Before and during play with cats, owners need to use the best ways to control the unpleasant odor.
It is important to note that cat play needs to be alternated in order to be truly effective. Throwing a bunch of toys in front of a cat and leaving them to carry on and play will do little to stimulate a domestic feline. Cats tire of toys very quickly so a better strategy is to put out only one or two toys and change them regularly.
About the author –
Bo Heamyan blogs regularly about pet welfare and has written extensively about the benefits of giving dogs and cats nutritionally balanced pet food for a number of industry leading companies, including Hill’s Pet Nutrition.