Playing with cats
Your cat loves nothing more than interacting with you, and the fun they have when playing is a reward in itself! Keep reading to find out about playing with your cat as Purina’s Pet Behaviourist explains what cat games they love to play.
Playing with your cat
Play isn’t just a fun part of living with your cat. It’s actually an essential feature of how we all stay emotionally and physically healthy. So it’s important for both your physical and social wellbeing to play with your pet on a daily basis.
Games to play with cats involve expressing their hunting instincts. So make sure you have fun cat toys including fishing-rod type toys and small soft toys to roll past them and attract their attention, and encourage them to chase and pounce indoors.
Feeding cats should also be more of a game than simply filling a food bowl. Use some of your pet’s daily rations as rewards in regular training sessions to teach you cat some tricks.
Place a proportion of your cat's food in special foraging toys, available in all good pet stores, and hide them in different locations around your home every day. Your cat will have to seek out the toy, and then manipulate it to obtain their food. It’s a much more challenging, stimulating and rewarding prospect than simply visiting the food bowl.
Above all, whatever cat games you play, have fun.
Why should you use find’n’seek food games when playing with your cat?
Our resident Pet Behaviourist explains why find’n’seek food games are so much fun for cats. You can find out more about your cat’s behaviour and why they like this kind of game in our article on cat care and psychology. It’s full of other fun ideas for their entertainment, too!
In short, your cat has a lot of natural intelligence that need to be exercised in order to keep them satisfied – and one of the best ways to do this is by making them ‘hunt’ for their food.
A cat that has their food given to them in an easy or ‘boring’ way will want to occupy themselves in another manner – perhaps by clawing the sofa, vying for your attention, or playing with things you don’t want them to. This could develop into a behavioural problem without careful attention. Bored pets may also sleep a lot – which makes them more lethargic, which in turn makes them want to exercise even less, leading to more weight gain. Rather than enter that vicious circle, a good find’n’seek food game will combine eating with exercise, just as your cat would do in the wild.
In fact, making your cat's meal a form of playtime means they’ll never be bored by their dinner – and you’ll probably have tons of fun together!
Playing as a form of cat exercise
We all know that dogs burn off a lot of energy as they’re chasing balls, playing dog sports and being taken on walks, but for cats things might be different. Not many of us take our feline friends on walks and a lot of the time they could be doing anything – from pouncing in the garden to snoozing in the sun! So how can you make sure your cat is getting enough exercise?
The answer is simple: have fun playing with them! Play is very important to your cat; from kittenhood right through to old age, they’ll love batting, chasing and pouncing all kinds of things! In fact, playing with your cat is one of the most enjoyable things about having them around the house.
Playing with your cat offers great health benefits, encouraging them to be more active, keep supple and maintain a sleek body condition. More importantly, cat playtime can help to encourage cats to express their natural hunting instincts, but if they do this with toys, the birds and mice will stay safe. Your cat's playful behaviour can be adorable, endearing and fun for both of you!
Kittens start to play from about four weeks old, spending most of their time chasing and pouncing on with their littermates, their mother and even you! Why not try some of these great toys for cats to keep them occupied?
- Wind-up toys are loads of fun, and they’re great for chasing too.
- A bucket filled with crumpled papers or ping-pong balls can make a useful distraction – watch them scatter and get chased!
- When your kitten attempts to stalk you, throw them a ball to chase. As well as offering variety, it means they won’t see you as prey!
- Leave a large cardboard box on the floor for diving into and scratching at.
- Glue several boxes together, linked by peepholes, for kitten hide-and-seek.
- Dangle a 'fishing pole' toy with feathers or bells at the end of a string, and move it about.
- Some cats enjoy chasing and jumping at the light beams from a small flashlight or a carefully directed laser pointer.
Just remember to keep toys out of sight between cat play time sessions: this stops your cat getting too familiar with the objects, so their reappearance is met with enthusiasm. And avoid using your fingers or toes as cat toys, or you will be pounced on later!
Sport as a form of dog exercise
If you're a cat owner, just remember that playtime isn’t just a luxury – it’s a necessity for your pet’s health and general wellbeing. But whatever happens, and whatever your pet’s unique personality, playtime should never feel like a chore. Be creative, have fun, and see how it benefits you both!