Cats love to engage in interactive play. It is fun and a great way to engage in physical and mental activity while strengthening their bond with their humans. There are many types of interactive play that encourages cats to hone their instinctive hunting skills such as stalking, pouncing on, batting, swiping, grasping, chasing, and biting objects.
Even with domestication, a cat's hunting instincts are still strong, so it is highly encouraged for owners to engage in interactive play to bring out their cat's natural behaviors. Play provides a positive avenue for the display of a cat’s predatory instincts. The exercise that your cat engages in while playing can also help them keep in shape and burn excess energy. Some games for smart cats include obstacle courses, foraging for food, interactive toys, water games, cat trees, and supervised outdoor time.
How to play with a cat
When playing with kittens, you should teach them how to play nice. Before they are weaned and are brought to their forever homes, kittens learn bite inhibition from their mother and their littermates. Kittens that are weaned earlier than usual may not have learned appropriate play behavior, which can increase their chances of engaging in unwanted nipping. After weaning, it is now the job of the new owner to teach his new kitten acceptable play behavior. One important thing to remember is knowing how to play with kittens with your hands. It is important for cats to associate your hands only for gentle petting and holding. To carry your point across, avoid using your hands to pin your cat down or wrestle it. You should also never tolerate or allow you cat to play, nip, or swipe at your hands or toes. As early as possible, boundaries should be established before the nipping, biting, swiping, and wrestling becomes rougher as cats grow and mature.
How can I stop my cat from being bored?
It is a fact that cats without enough physical and mental stimulation can get bored easily and their pent-up energy can become a potent fuel of undesirable habits and behaviors. Enriching your cat’s indoor environment and providing lots of opportunities for play and mental stimulation can prevent boredom and help keep your cat active and busy. As such, cat-safe toys are essential to your pet’s health and well-being.
When it comes to choosing toys for your cat, it doesn’t necessarily mean that the more expensive the toy, the better it is. There are many items at home you can "upcycle" to make excellent cat toys. Some household items cats like to play with include paper shopping bags, cardboard boxes, tissue paper reels, and feathers. You may even find your cat attacking your stuffed animal. Cats look at stuffed animals as potential prey. These toys are something that they can wrestle with and practice their hunting skills on.
The bottom line is, cats do need toys and whatever type of toy you choose, be sure it is safe for your cat to play with. Avoid small items that can easily be swallowed, or parts which can get your cat tangled or strangled, etc.
Read more: How To Make Cat Toys Out Of Household Items
How to play with a cat wand
One of the most popular interactive toys for cats are cat wands. They are used in the same way as fishing-rod toys. The movement of the feather or “prey” that is tied at the end of the wand can get a cat’s hunting instincts in full throttle as they swipe, chase, pounce, or leap at the moving “prey”. When using wand toys for your cat’s playtime, always remember the following tips:
- Small, subtle prey movements are better at perking a cat’s interest than giant swoops and drastic movements of the “prey”.
- Use a start-and-stop pattern when moving the “prey” to get your cat’s interest.
- To end each play session, allow your kitty to catch the “prey” with his paws and take a bite.
- Be sure to hide the toy after each session, someplace that is inaccessible to your curious cat. Aside from making the toys seem new and interesting, some parts, like the wand, string or feathers can be dangerous to cats.
How to play hide and seek with your cat
Playing hide-and-seek with your kitty is an excellent form of interactive play. To make things more interesting, find a creative or unique place to hide in, such as boxes, behind the door or furniture, under the bed, in a tunnel, and just every spot that you can find. The game encourages their natural hunting instinct. The secret is to sneak into the hiding place unnoticed and wait for the perfect opportunity to mount an ambush.
How do I keep my cat entertained at night?
By nature, cats are nocturnal hunters. Their ancestors sleep during the day and hunt for prey at night when it is much cooler. While domestication has somewhat shifted the sleeping patterns of cats, most still tend to wake up at night, wander around, and engage in nocturnal meowing. While there is not much you can do to entertain your cat at night except if you get up and play with him, there are ways to reduce your pet’s nighttime activities.
- Schedule a few minutes of playtime with your cat during the evening until he appears tired.
- Since cats tend to sleep after a big meal, give the main meal just before bedtime. If your cat continues to engage in nocturnal vocalizations to ask for food, consider buying a timed feeder.
- During the day, provide lots of opportunities to keep your cat busy and active.
Do cats get bored of toys?
Cats can also get bored of playing with the same toys each day, thus there is a need to rotate toys regularly to preserve the novelty of each one. Be sure to keep the other toys out of sight so your cat’s attention is focused only on what toys are available.
Read more: The Cat Toys Handbook
Japanese article: 猫のストレスと運動不足を解消する遊び方