Playing with Cat
Playing with your Cat
Playing with your cat is good for both of you! Spending time playing with you or the family keeps her happy, entertained and in good health – and you have fun too! In fact play is essential to your cat's well-being right through from kitten-hood to old age. Play gives your cat mental stimulation and exercise, and keeps her alert and trim.
Why play is good for cats
- Playing with your cat strengthens the bonds between you. Play also encourages communication, socialisation and boosts your cat's confidence.
- Play allows cats to express their natural hunting instincts such as hunting, stalking, chasing, running, jumping and climbing.
- Cat play relieves stress and tension as well as boredom.
- Playing with your cat helps prevents destructive behaviour. If she spends play time with you she is less like to amuse herself by scratching your furniture.
- Play is a great form of exercise, keeps your cat active and fit, maintains a sleek and supple body condition and helps to prevent obesity.
Playtime for all
Kittens. Kittens start to play with each other from 4 weeks old and by the time they are 8 weeks old they will start to play on their own, practicing their predatory skills. Playing with your kitten will make her responsive to you and build a good relationship. Don't encourage your kitten to pounce on your hands or feet as this behaviour can become aggressive when she is an adult. Make sure all toys left with your kitten are safe, with no small parts that could be chewed and swallowed.
Indoor-Only Cats. It is vitally important to ensure indoor-only cats play as they do not use up the energy normally reserved for outdoor activities such as patrolling territory and hunting. Indoor-only cats need 15 – 30 minutes of exercise a day in the form of supervised playtime to keep them fit and prevent obesity.
Senior Cats. Senior cats may not be as eager to play as they are usually less active in their old age but it is important that they receive some amount of exercise. Bear in mind that your senior cat may not be as agile as she once was and that her joints may be fragile and sore. Gentle play will help your senior cat stay young at heart and interested in life.
Active and Inactive Cats. Some breeds of cat are more active than others. Energetic cat breeds tend to be the Siamese, Abyssinian, Bengal and Egyptian Mau. More laid back cats include the Persian, Himalayan, British Shorthair and Ragdoll breeds. All cats whether they are active or inactive should be involved in play – if your cat won't play consult your vet as this may indicate an underlying medical problem.
Choosing the best toys for your cat
The best toys for your cat can do more for her than make her happy! They can prevent boredom, discourage destructive behaviour, provide mental stimulation and keep her supple and agile. Make sure you choose safe toys that are made expressly for cats as homemade toys can be dangerous. Always check your cat toys regularly for wear and tear. Look out for rough edges that could cut your cat's mouth or harbour germs. Once playtime has finished store your cat's toys out of sight to stop her getting too familiar with them so their reappearance is met with enthusiasm.
Chasing. Chasing is part of your cat's natural hunting instinct and cats love to chase anything that moves. There are a variety of toys available that your cat will chase after, from feather teasers and chasers to balls with bells inside.
Climbing. Cat climbers, trees and scratching posts are ideal for your cat to climb and offer an alternative to your cat climbing the curtains and scratching your furniture.
Hunting. Cats find wind-up toys fascinating as they can practice their hunting skills. Try a wind-up mouse and watch your cat chase it!
Stalking. Cats will often hide themselves from their prey whilst stalking – cats in the wild will hide in high grasses and try to attract as little attention as possible . . . until they pounce! A cat tunnel is a great for your cat to play in as she can hide inside whilst you tease her with a feather chaser, roll a ball or set a wind-up toy to zoom past. If you have more than one cat you will find they both will play hide and seek with each other in the tunnel.
Catnip. Catnip is a harmless herb belonging to the mint family and many cats find it irresistible. If you want to attract your cat to a certain toy or encourage her to play you can either choose a toy stuffed with Catnip or use a Catnip spray.