Animal games and fun

How Long Should I Play with My Cat?

Josie F. Turner
By Josie F. Turner, Journalist specialized in Animal Welfare. December 18, 2017
How Long Should I Play with My Cat?

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Cats are social creatures. They are active and curious (there's even a saying about it). Unless there is something medically wrong with them, this activeness needs to be expressed on a daily basis. Having an active and energetic daily routine which promotes health and happiness is necessary for a happy and healthy cat. It also positively affects their mental health by reducing stress and discouraging anxiety. Furthermore, it helps promote the bond between owner and pet.

We're all busy, but we want to meet the responsibility of being a pet owner. For this reason, AnimalWised answers the question how long should I play with my cat? As much as we'd love to play with the little furball all day, it's good to know we're at least making the minimum requirements to have a healthy cat.

  1. Why is it important to play with your cat?
  2. How long should I play with my cat?
  3. Games to play with your cat
  4. How old is your cat?
  5. Can you just get another cat for them to play with?

Why is it important to play with your cat?

As cats are social animals, they do not always like to play alone. They may jump about and seem like they are content to fool around on their lonesome, but this will not be the case for long. They want to play with other cats, humans, insects or whatever comes along. The reason for this is because they need stimulation for their play behaviors. It is a primordial trait related to the hunting instinct, the reason why many cat toys are in the shape of a cat's natural prey.

Their interaction with you will also be somewhat dictated by their first days with you. Many owners get excited about a new cat and will spend a lot of time playing with them. However, the novelty for some wears off and their day to day lives get in the way of spending time with the kitty. Cats are not as fickle and need consistent stimulation in the form of play.

In saying this, a 3 month old kitten will have more energy than most older cats. We must adapt our play sessions with the cat according to their age, stamina and overall health. So, how do cats play with humans? There are many types of games we can practice with our feline friends. If your cat engages in these games with gusto, it's a good sign of happiness and well-being.

How long should I play with my cat?

As much as we would love to give you a minute specific answer to this question, the unfortunate answer is there are a lot of variables. Each animal has its own needs and they differ according to:

  • Size
  • Age
  • Energy levels
  • Health

There are some cats which are simply maniacal in their need for play. Some of them are as indeterminable as the reason why some of us humans are so energetic. Similarly, if your cat is very active, they may have a specific condition such as hyperthyroidism[1].

In general, it is ideal to play with your cat daily for at least 20 minutes to half an hour. Unlike dogs which need to be taken out on walks, outdoor cats can get a lot of their exercise on their own. They may even know other cats they will play (or possibly fight) with. If you have an indoor cat, they will need more attention, especially if you have a small household.

The best way to know how much time you need to play with your cat is to pay attention. See how much they need and provide it for them. Check their responses and happiness levels regularly.

Games to play with your cat

There are a number of toys and games specific for cats on the market. It is not always easy to know which is the right one to choose for your pet. There are toys especially designed for kittens, intelligence based toys, treat dispensing toys and even homemade toys we make ourselves. There is also the unknown factor of cats having their own favorite toy for reasons we'll never quite know.

As we mentioned above, the games you play need to be those which motivate them. The ones which do this the best are are those which emit noises or even the classic 'fishing rod' toy where a lure is attached to a rod with a string. We can play hide and seek with our cat, even leaving little treats in hiding places for them to get to. There are many different possibilities and it all depends on what your cat responds to. For some great ideas to explore with your furry pal, here are 10 games to entertain your cat.

A good game session does not need to be especially long. You should take short breaks and it is important to be relatively calm so as not to overexcite or overexert your kitty. This is for your safety as much as the cat as some cats will not know just how sharp and unpleasant their teeth and claws are for you. This is especially important with kittens who are just starting to know their limits.

How Long Should I Play with My Cat? - Games to play with your cat

How old is your cat?

The majority of cats continue to maintain active or moderate play behavior into adulthood, some even until their old age. This will depend on each specific cat. It is important, however, to note that some underlying pathology can affect the amount of energy a cat has to play. If the cat is old, it is possible this could be something such as feline arthritis. However, it could also be something more serious, especially in younger cats. If you notice lethargy or a sudden loss of interest in play, you should probably take your cat to the vet.

Can you just get another cat for them to play with?

It is likely another feline friend will help cover the social needs of our cat. This is especially the case if they have had to spend a lot of time on their own. However, cats will still need our company. They need to interact with us and we need to ensure this interaction is healthy. If we ignore them and don't meet their needs, they may even come to resent us.

It is also important to know whether or not your cat will play nice with others. You can't just bring another cat in and assume they will get on happy as Larry. If your cat has never socialized with other cats and was separated from mother and siblings at a young age, they will likely have difficulties adjusting. If a cat doesn't socialize when young, doing so later on can be tricky.

In these cases you will need to know whether or not your cat is playing or fighting. If they haven't socialized young, they may not know the right game patterns. They might also have trouble with dominance or simply just not like the friend you have 'imposed' upon them. If your cat has not socialized well, you should ensure their home has enough entertainment so that getting another cat isn't necessary.

On the other hand, if your cat was adopted around three months of age and has experience socializing with other cats, adopting a new friend could be just the ticket. Now you will have two friends to be entertained and entertain.

If you want to read similar articles to How Long Should I Play with My Cat?, we recommend you visit our Animal games and fun category.

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How Long Should I Play with My Cat?