Why Cats Need Playtime Too
There’s a common misconception in the world of pets that, because of their independent nature, cats don’t want or need playtime with their owners. However, just like their canine counterparts, cats enjoy playing, chasing and bonding with their humans.
Play 30 Minutes Each Day
Many cat owners claim that their feline companions have times of the day where they simply go “crazy,” which includes anything from running around and meowing frantically, to swatting at their owners and other undesirable behaviors. Oftentimes, these behaviors are symptomatic of boredom in cats.
Engaging your cat in playtime once or twice a day can lead to a calmer, happier cat.
Cats are hunters by nature. Despite domestication, some of these instincts never really go away. That’s why when cats are kept cooped up inside with little to no interaction, they can become stir crazy and that can lead to destructive behaviors. If you’re looking to protect your favorite knit blanket or prevent your cat from “attacking” at random moments, try setting aside thirty minutes every day to play with them.
How to Play With Your Cat
Awaken Their Hunting Instincts
Supply your cat with toys that are reminiscent of what their prey would be outdoors. Interactive cat toys with tails, fur and feathers are incredibly popular and many include catnip, which can enhance the playtime experience. Pull a string along the ground for your cat to chase, or throw a toy for them to stalk. With these kinds of games, be sure to allow your cat to successfully catch and grab the toy at the end of each game.
TIP: Avoid using laser pointers to play with your cat. Because there isn’t the satisfaction of actually catching that little red dot, cats will often become wound up and frustrated through this type of play.
Try Puzzle Feeders and Treat-dispensing Toys
Puzzle feeders and treat-dispensing chew toys are another way to make playtime more engaging. Indoor cats don’t have to hunt for their food, but you can add excitement to dinnertime by using a food ball. Slightly larger than a tennis ball, these treat dispensers are great for dry cat food and cat treats. Your cat will have a ball chasing, pushing and batting the toy, trying to get treats or kibble pieces to come out. A piece of tuna or cat treat in a scrunched-up piece of paper can also provide fun puzzle for your cat.
Teach Your Cat Tricks
Training your cat to do tricks, much like training a dog, can be another way to keep them entertained and to bond with them. Many cats can be taught simple commands such as sit, shake or even fetch by using positive reinforcement, either through pets or their favorite treats.
Other Ways to Keep Cats Occupied
How can you ensure your cats get some good playtime when you’re not home? For those times when you can’t be there to play with your feline friends, try keeping various other forms of entertainment around for them.
1. Hiding Places: Boxes, crates, bags and other places to hide are well loved by most cats. Their predatory instincts mean they enjoy being tucked away in secrecy so they can pounce out and surprise their prey. Cats also love to climb, so provide your pets with a tower or other high place that they’re allowed to access.
2. Cat Scratch Post: Cats love to scratch and stretch, and need to exercise their paws and keep their claws in good shape. Make sure you provide a scratching post (the taller the better) for them to use. This will also help dissuade them from using your furniture or rugs as a place to sharpen their claws.
3. Keep Toys Fresh: Another way to keep your cat interested in their toys (and not your feet under the duvet) is to switch them in and out. It’s tempting to leave all of their toys out and available to them, but often this can lead to your cat becoming bored. By switching up the toys every day or two, they’ll be excited by all of the new options available to them.
Fun for Them and for You
Playtime with cats can seem difficult or challenging, especially if your pet has a more independent personality. However, if you set aside time to play with them each day, you’ll find a happier cat and a stronger pet parent bond. Cats that get enough playtime are also less likely to turn to destructive behaviors to entertain themselves or get your attention.
Finding ways for both of you to enjoy playtime is paramount, and it will make your post-playtime cuddling more satisfying.