Despite their often sedentary behaviour, cats need regular mental stimulation and exercise – both of which they get through play. Here are four feline-friendly games to try at home:
Chase the prey
As domesticated as our fur friends are, they still like to feel like they’re in the wild sometimes.
The idea with this game is to simulate the way prey would move – by dragging a toy across the ground and like any prey would, pausing periodically. This will stimulate a response in your cat to stalk the toy and pounce on the unsuspecting squeaky toy.
To maintain the excitement – don’t leave the toy lying around after a play session. If your cat sees it too often, the mystery will be lost and they will consider it an everyday object instead of one worth playing with.
Ah, catnip – your cat’s favorite herb. Like all things, cat nip should be used in moderation, but it can illicit serious interest from your cat. Whether you put a little catnip into a toy or ball, or buy one ready made, it’s a good way to get cats interested in regular play.
This is particularly the case when trying to get more sluggish cats off the couch and into a playful mood. If your cat is not responding, do not add more – it’s important to remember that catnip doesn’t do it for all cats.
Fetch – for cats
Yes, this classic game is not just reserved for dogs. Cats love to play fetch too, and while they might not return the ball, most cats will run after and try to catch a ball that you’ve thrown.
Cats especially love it when there are rattling beads or a bell inside the ball, as this helps keep their attention. Like the ‘chase the prey’ game, fetch simulates the experience of trying to catch something in the wild. It’s important to throw the ball at a reasonable distance, and not to aim it anywhere where it might be difficult or dangerous for your cat to ‘fetch’.
Play with your food
A little more high-tech, this game involves getting your cat a puzzle feeder or food distributor. These are toys which hold a little serving of food in a compartment, only releasing it when the toy is rolled, pressed or pounced on.
This game helps your cat feel like they’re hunting for food. It also encourages inactive cats, who need more of an incentive to get playful. Keep in mind your cat’s daily food limit, and don’t let them use the toy to overindulge.