Yes, there is a right way to play with cats. I know it’s so fun to whip that feather birdie back and forth in front of your cat, to land it on his head, to wind it around his tail, to pull it from his grasp just when he thinks he’s got the prize. And let’s not forget running kitty in circles. Fun.
But wait. Fun for whom?
For you, maybe, but for your cat, not so much.
Cats love and need to play, but playing with cats requires patience. A successful play partner must emulate both predator and prey. What would prey do? How would it act when cornered by a giant menace with razor claws and ripping teeth? And what would the predator do to assure the capture of that prey?
All cats are different. One enjoys a string toy and another prefers a body kicker. He may be a loner and only play by himself, or he may like interacting with his person. Some want their prey dragged along the ground; others want to jump for it. Find out what your cat likes; it’s all about him.
With cats, play isn’t just for fun. Play is the way our domestic and often indoor-only cats connect with their lion ancestry. Without play, cats become frustrated, and a frustrated cat may act out in a myriad of unpleasant ways such as bullying other cats, scratching the furniture, or the dreaded inappropriate litterbox issues.
A lot of your play time is dangling the hook, waiting in anticipation for the fish, or in this case, the cat to bite. Here are some important tips:
Always let kitty catch his prey.
Don’t be in a hurry.
If he’s not into it, try another time. Play works best when you make a routine of it. If your cat doesn’t sleep through the night, a play session right before bed can be helpful.
I asked some of my cat-savvy friends about their cats’ favorite toys. Here are the answers:
Apparently, me when I’m sleeping! Ok – bug on a string is the all-time fav.
Cat nip mat, catnip pillows and……just plain old tissue paper that comes out of gift boxes. They also love brown craft paper that comes out of Amazon shipments. They jump on it, hide in it and run in circles on top of it. We think they love the noise paper makes.
Our cats love Da Bird and laser lights. Shadrach has a life-size fuzzy rat that has a catnip pouch. He carries that thing around and shakes it silly as he’s “killing” it every damn day. LOL!
When Charmin was still with us, she carried around constantly what we called her “pink baby”. It was just the plastic cord from a feather toy but you wouldn’t know it by the way she treated it. Charmin’s brother, Mr. Whipple, liked the laser light best.
Gremlin loves *hair scrunchies and knit socks or baby booties- they fly like birds when you hook them on your claws. Dusty loves those *clear plastic bands to keep the lids on bottles – he turns them into braille, crunch crunch crunch. And dragging his gold ribbon around the house, meowling plaintively. This only works when we are sleeping. Cardboard boxes. I used to crochet spiders on a string for them but those lose their fascination after a couple of years.
*Hair bands & Legos
Besides nip – a shiny gold ribbon about 1.5 inches wide. Small rubber balls to fetch, and a bright red flocked mousey squeaky toy, also fetchable. The mousey on a string is an overall winner.
Right now they are thrilled with a piece of Velcro they found. Also a little fuzzy thing on the end of a string. It’s just about pulled apart, so I really need to find a new one.
That’s an easy one Mollie! Any empty cardboard box will do for at least 4 hours if not 4 days.
(*watch these items – some cats eat them!)
Keep your cat healthy and happy. Play with him at least 5 minutes every day.
~Thank you, internet, for providing these great cat photos.~
Excellent post! My cats love da bird, it gets them all involved. I see you are a Trekkie, my hubby and I are too. We haven’t gone to conventions, but we met the original Scotty and Nimoy at their book signings and I got photos of my hubby with them. We even have a Start Trek themed Christmas tree.
Have you seen Jenny Parks’ cat Trek art?