Just quickly, even if you’re an old hand at cat ownership, take a moment to read ‘What NOT to do’ – it’ll tell you those essential safety warnings that cats should, but don’t, come with!
Play should challenge your cat’s senses and encourage the kind of activity that would naturally occur during hunting, including running, jumping over or under furniture, around obstacles, and working out where the toy goes when it is out of site (including underneath things like the handy newspaper!). Make it as fun and inventive as you can! You’ll also find cats differ in what they find exciting; some like to jump into the air after a toy, others like to chase it across a room, and different materials and sounds may be more popular than others. A little variety helps keep things fun!
How do you know if your cat is in the mood to play? Is your cat getting under your feet for no reason, or does he/she keep asking for something, and you assume it’s food or a cuddle? Well, your cat MAY be asking for this, simply because this is the only thing he/she is used to getting from you. But actually, what they may NEED is Play Time! Instead of always offering your cat food when they hassle you (which will re-enforce their nagging!), try offering play instead. Get those dangler toys out! See Interactive Play for more information.
- Keep a stash of ‘self-directed play‘ toys, and rotate these regularly (every few days if possible) so your cat doesn’t get bored of the same ones
- Leave a few of these out at any one time
- Try occasionally putting some catnip in/on these toys, to encourage interest
- Try to ‘read‘ your cat, so you can tell when he/she wants to play – they may crave your attention, or wander around smelling/scratching furniture, chewing things, and generally making a nuisance of themselves!
- Every day (if possible), have Play Time – it doesn’t have to take long, but it should be time that you devote to providing your cat with a stimulating, varied and challenging hunting/chasing game, such as those described in ‘Interactive Play‘. Your cat will so enjoy and look forward to these sessions, that after a while he/she may start asking for Play Time if it occurs regularly at the same time of day!
- Only get out Interactive Toys at the time you are playing with them, otherwise keep them hidden away.
It may sound like a hassle having to play with your cats, but you’ll end up getting so much enjoyment out of watching your cat having fun, and if you’re short of time then there are various types of toy that will save you the effort and time of being absorbed in playing with kitty for a whole 15 minutes! See ‘Toys for Cats’