How to play with your cat
copyright (c) 2021 Frania Shelley-Grielen. All rights reserved.
"Some of the cat's psychological needs may also be met through social
interactions with the owner, such as play and displays of affection."
- Bradshaw, Casey and Brown, THE BEHAVIOUR OF THE DOMESTIC CAT.
All cats need to play and things to play with to enrich cat life at home. Cat
toys and puzzle feeders supply objects for solitary play and feline house-
mates can offer social play opportunities. Don't forget that you are the
most important aspect of your cat's environment and add play time to your
Make sure playing with your cat includes daily interactive play with a
fishing wand toy. These sessions can have the most impact on your cat's
behavior and your relationship with them. When a cat plays on their own
there is a predictability to the play - when you are at the other end of the
wand toy the interaction is dynamic and you can be the unpredictable
"prey" object they are designed to enjoy pursuing. Remember:
- Draw or drag the toy away from or across the cat's line of vision to
best engage them. Think of the feathers or fur at the end of the wand
as standing in for a mouse, bird, etc., and how that might move when
a cat might have the best opportunity to catch it. Vary your move-
ments. Keep it interesting.
- Cats have been shown to truly benefit from schedule and routine.
Keep play regular and as close to on schedule as possible.
- While a long play session can be a good thing, keeping the cat's
interest and keeping it doable for the human is key. Know that less
can be more; three to five minutes in the morning and evening are
good - the important thing is that they happen.
- Experiment with different types of wand toys to see which your cat
loves best (I see the feathered ones getting the most response but
every cat is different).
- Some cats may not engage initially. Keep going. See which type of
toy your cat shows more interest in no matter how slight.
- Keep your reaction muted - no happy camper puppy voices please,
cheer on kitty by using your "elevator voice" and thinking
- Keep the toy out of sight and in a place where kitty cannot access it
when you are not using it for safety and novelty concerns.
- Keeping play sessions on schedule; the same time in the morning or
evening are vital to giving cats a sense of control over them. Studies
show cats thrive on routine.
- Avoid laser pointers- they can be dangerous if misdirected, are
inherently frustrating and offer nothing to catch ever. If you must
use them, let it be sparingly (they are good for redirecting cat
squabbles for instance) and have them disappear under a door and
throw a treat where the beam ends.
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