How to Play With a Cat - Fun Games to Bond With Your Cat!
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Cats are super playful animals that like to bond through games. Not only is it important for their physical health, but also for their mental health. This is why we mustn't forget to save some time to play and bond with our cat.
However, some new cat companions may ask themselves how exactly can one play with a cat? In this AnimalWised article we're going to give you many ideas on how to play with a cat. We'll talk about different games that cats enjoy so you can try it out with your cat and see which game they enjoy best!
Why is playing with your cat so important?
Although cats sleep between 12 and 18 hours a day, when they are awake, their level of activity can be quite intense. This is especially true for outdoor cats and certain active breeds, such as the Bengal cat. Therefore, when our cats are awake and ready to play, it's very important that we encourage them to do so.
Here are the top reasons why it's important to play with our cat:
- Physical exercise helps our cat maintain a healthy weight
- It helps with physical health and also mental health
- Allowing our cats to play helps stimulate their cognitive skills
- It helps us bond with our cat as they spend quality time with us like family
For these reasons, playing with our cat will improve their quality of life. That's why it's very important to encourage them to play with us and their toys.
What do cats play with?
Cats are curious animals that enjoy mysterious things as it stimulates their innate hunter instincts. This is why they don't always need a new and fancy toy. Sometimes a new object that they can throw and chase is enough to cognitively stimulate and entertain them. From cardboard boxes to intelligence toys for cats, there is a wide variety of toys to choose form.
With that being said, cats generally enjoy hunting toys the most. These toys include fishing rod toys, fake mice, a mini light, toys with feathers, etc. These hunting toys stimulate their innate hunting instincts and encourage cats to chase and trap these toys. You can find simple hunting toys, or even make your own by reading our article about DIY cat toys.
Another type of toy that cats enjoy are intelligence toys. As we've mentioned, cats are very intelligent animals that enjoy being cognitively stimulated. They are very curious and enjoy a challenge, making these types of toys perfect for them! Intelligence toys include ball circuits, intelligent food dispensers, etc. These types of toys generally combine physical and mental stimulation, but unfortunately do not include the owner as a participant in the game.
You may also be interested in our article about the 5 toys cats love the most.
How to play with a cat - 5 games!
If you're a new cat companion and you're feeling a little lost when it comes to playing with your cat, we've got your back. Here are 5 games that you can try out at home:
- Playing with their fishing rod: this is one of the most fun games for cats to play. Simply use a fishing rod cat toy and allow your cat to chase and try to trap the toy. You can do this by lifting it into the air or by dragging it from side to side on the ground. Your cat will be very intrigued and enjoy chasing the toy and playing with you. By using this toy you also avoid having your cat attack or accidentally scratch you as they are fixated on the toy.
- Play hide and seek: many cats also enjoy playing hide and seek as it also allows them to use their cognitive skills to find you and to hide. You can play this by playfully hiding and calling your cat. When they come to you, congratulate them with a treat or by petting them and scratching the back of their ears, as they usually enjoy that. Then, if your cat goes and hides, you can go find them and pretend you're chasing them. This will get them quite hyper and they made begin to run around the house playfully.
- Playing catch with your cat: although more popular in dogs, cats can also learn to play fetch. The first thing you'll need is an interesting toy that will catch your cat's eye. Then you can tease them by moving the toy with your hands, when you see that they are interested you can throw it. Just make sure you don't throw it too far away. Your cat will run to catch it. If they also bring it back, reward them with a treat. By repeating this, your cat will associate
- Olfactory exploration: Try adding catnip inside a more or less closed toilet paper carton and having your cat play with this toy. Just remember to avoid having any toxic plants for cats.
- Tunnels and hidden treats: another fun game is to create tunnels with carboard boxes and hiding treats or toys inside. This will stimulate your cats curiousity and have them running and playing for a while.
Why doesn't my cat play alone?
Cats can play alone if you're away, but for this they will need their own toys and environmental enrichment. It's also important to remember that cats need new objects and toys to discover and play with. Once they have played with something for a couple of times, they will become bored of it. A nice trick is to rub the toy with catnip, this will surely keep your cat entertained. You can also read our article about DIY cat toys made with cardboard.
How to play with kittens, adult cats and elderly cats
The game must always be adapted to each stage of the feline, therefore, we will show you some curiosities that you should know when making your best friend play:
How to play with a kitten
Kittens are especially playful and easy to motivate. They often enjoy playing with their human companion enormously, settling for just about any new object within reach. It's very important to stimulate them at this stage since this will help them have a balanced temperament as adults and have a better quality of life.
How to play with an adult cat
Not all cats play in their adulthood or have even developed hunting skills. This will depend on their upbringing and whether or not they were properly socialized as kittens. If your cat is having a hard time playing, you will need to try to stimulate them and socialize them as adults to improve their quality of life. This will also help them overcome any past traumas.
To do this, choose different toys and see what sparks their interest, carboard box, a laser chaser, feathers, etc. It may take some time but your cat will eventually develop their playful side. Then, you can continue to play with them everyday. This will help them keep a healthy physique and also be mentally entertained, making them a healthy and happy cat.
How to play with elderly cats
Although not as often as kittens or even adult cats, elderly cats enjoy playing too. Don't forget to dedicate time to playing with your elderly cat as it will make them happy and keep their mind sharp. Keep making new toys for them, maybe with the scent of catnip, and encourage them to chase, trap, run and play with you and their toys.
How long do you have to play with a cat?
Each cat is different and may need more or less of play time. This also depends on their breed and whether or not they are an outdoor or indoor cat, their upbringing, etc. Nevertheless, on average, your cat will need at least 30 minutes to play, run around, chase toys, etc. With that being said, the more the merrier as it will entertain your cat, challenge their cognitive skills, reduce their stress and help you bond with them.
Learn more in our article about how long should a cat play for.
How do I know if my cat is playing or fighting?
Fighting and playing could be difficult to differentiate in a cat, but thankfully there are signs that will give it away. An aggressive cat will arise due to an issue, not a toy. They will be determined to attack and will meow as a warning that they may attack. Their hair may stand on its end and their ears will be back. In the moment, you can see if it is in an aggressive nature.
Playful cats will be encouraged with a toy or a curious object. They will jump and run and may even have playful meows. Many cats also purr while they play as they are enjoying themselves. Playful cats won't bite very hard no scratch with the intention to hurt you or the toy.
If you're having difficulty with your aggressive cat, we encourage you to take them to the veterinarian or a feline behaviour specialist. You may also want to check out our article about how to calm down an aggressive cat. We'll also leave some of our videos below where we talk about playing and bonding with your cat in order to provide them with a happy life.
If you want to read similar articles to How to Play With a Cat - Fun Games to Bond With Your Cat!, we recommend you visit our Animal games and fun category.
- Gourkow, N .; Fraser D .: The effect of housing and handling practices on the welfare, behavior and selection of domestic cats ( Felis sylvestris catus ) by adopters in an animal shelter - Animal Welfare, Volume 15, Number 4, November 2006, pp. 371-377 (7)
- Suzanne DE Held .; Marek Spinka .: Animal play and animal welfare - Animal Behavior Volume 81, Issue 5, May 2011, Pages 891-899