Fun Things to Do With Your Cat
The regal cat seems to be a creature of leisure—she certainly doesn’t run around the yard with wild abandon like her canine counterparts. Most cats are quite content to sit on a windowsill all day long, taking naps and watching the world go by. But that doesn’t mean cats don’t need or enjoy playing games with their owners. Of course they do! Cats love to be mentally and physically stimulated, and they love to spend time playing with their owners.
When it comes to cats, however, play isn’t just about fun and games. For cats in the wild, the act of play is actually a serious business that helps kittens learn important survival skills like stalking, chasing, and trapping prey. Even if your cat never ventures out beyond your home, this basic instinct to hunt can remain strong, which is why it is important to give our feline family members the opportunity to express this natural behavior through play.
PLAY = EXERCISE
Along with satisfying your cat’s natural instinct, play is also important to keep your pet healthy and happy. Play provides important exercise for cats, especially those that are housebound. Regular play can help prolong your cat’s life by keeping her active and helping to maintain a healthy weight. Interactive play between you and your cat may also prevent behavior problems that can arise from boredom or misdirected aggression at other pets or people in the household. Finally, play is simply a great way to interact with your cat and strengthen the loving bond between you.
TOYS FOR THE FINICKY FELINE
Playing with your cat doesn’t mean that you need to purchase an arsenal of bright, shiny toys to keep her busy and occupied. Providing a few simple, inexpensive toys at different locations can help turn your house into a purr-fect playground for your favorite feline.
It’s important to check that the toys selected are safe and appropriate for your particular pet. Be sure that any toy your cat plays with is large enough that it cannot be swallowed. Make sure the toys do not have any small parts, strings, buttons, or bells that a cat might think is a treat and want to eat.
Many cats love to bat and pounce on moving toys, and a simple toy with a feather or other object at the end of a long wire, or fishing pole, will please many cats. With a little help from you, your cat will feel like she’s hunting prey. Drag the end of the toy on the floor for your cat to chase, varying the speed and direction. Don’t make catching the toy too easy, but let her win once in a while to make her feel like a good hunter. Be sure to praise her, too!
Many cats love rolling toys that are lightweight and easy to bat around. Feeder toys, which dispense food treats as the cat plays with it, are great devices that encourage play by rewarding your cat for her hard work. Toys filled with catnip can also keep your kitty occupied for hours.
Not all fun cat toys have to be bought from a store. Wads of paper, as long as they are not too small to be swallowed, are great for cats to bat around. Some cats love the simplicity of a paper sack or cardboard box that they can crawl into and hide. You can even cut some holes into the bag or box for added interest.
To keep your cat interested in play, put her toys away when playtime is over. If a toy is always available, your kitty might become bored with it. Try to set aside some time each day, at least 15 minutes, for interactive play with your cat. If she wants to play more, indulge her! If she doesn’t seem interested in playing with you, don’t force her. If you have more than one cat, make sure all of the cats have equal opportunity to participate in the activity.
Encouraging play with your cat is an important part of keeping her happy and healthy. By helping your cat remain “as playful as a kitten,” you not only help her have fun but also improve her muscle tone, agility, and stamina—and strengthen the bond that you already share.