So many times I hear cat owners say that their cats won't play. It is important to understand what motivates felines so that you can provide the most stimulating environment for your fur babies.
Cats are motivated by their primal instincts to hunt, catch, kill, and eat. They need to release this energy, and if they don’t, that’s when your kitty cat may start behaving badly. Scratching furniture or your legs, knocking things off the shelves etc. As Cat guardians we need to make sure to provide them with plenty of mental and physical stimulation. This will avoid our kitties behaving badly!
When playing with your cat you really need to be fully engaged & present. Take on the role of the the mouse and run around with them. This is what is going to help bring out their hunting instincts. Play with your cat multiple times per day for 10-15 minutes. Your cat will really love you for it and as a result you will have a very content and happy kitty.
Cats aren’t long distance runners like dogs, short bursts of activity is what their metabolism is geared up for. So when you’re playing, engage your kitty in short bursts of play, then let them calm down, then another short burst of play and so on. This type of play can be effective using a teaser wand with feathers and you can play the role of the bird!
Play also provides your cat with much needed exercise. Exercise is critical in maintaining a healthy body weight and preventing your cat from becoming overweight. Exercise is also fun and is a great opportunity to bond with your kitty cat.
Some of the best toys for cats are ones that mimic the movement of small rodents which will stimulate the hunting behaviour. Your kitty cat will be encouraged to start stalking, chasing, pouncing and finally catching their prey!
Here are some tips on how to use toys for interactive play with your kitty cat:
- Teaser Wands - these are great to wave in the air or in front of your cat. Your cat can then jump or pounce to catch their prey.
- Balls - balls mimic the movement of prey with their random movement. Try flicking the balls towards your cat and see if they chase the balls or flick them away.
- Mice/Birds/Snakes - leave the toys in random places and watch your kitty cat stalk their prey and pounce.
- Laser lights - your kitty will go mad for chasing the little light when you point it at the wall, floor etc.
Other toys that are great to have available for your cat:
- Interactive toys for solo play - tower tracks with balls to flick around or even a bird bath to place outside so that your kitty can watch the birds come and go. These ideas are great for when you are not around to participate in playtime.
- Tunnels - cats love to have somewhere safe to hide. Ziggy is a big fan of tunnels. You can play hide and seek with your kitty and they will love being able to hide from you and stop them from becoming your prey!
- Crinkle Sacks - a different alternative to a tunnel just a smaller space to hide. Cats love the crinkle sounds that mylar makes so toys and sacks with this material embedded within them will always be enticing for your kitty.
Catnip and Silvervine:
Most cat parents would have heard of Catnip (a perennial herb) and the affects that it has on cats. For some cats it makes them playful and hyperactive; an affect which only lasts about 5 - 10 minutes.
Silvervine is a compound that acts like a pheromone and the impact can last anywhere from 5 - 30 minutes. It has been found that more cats are attracted to Silvervine and the effects are more potent.
So if you find that your kitty cat ignores the catnip toys you have bought for them it might be time to try out some Silvervine toys instead!
Other tips & Tricks:
- Have a wide variety of toys in rotation so that your cat is constantly stimulated
- Put toys away after a play session and reintroduce them at next play session to avoid boredom
- Reward your cat with treats to reinforce positive play behaviour
- When your cat walks away this generally means that they are done playing, never force your cat to play or interact with you or a toy.
Note...please remember that all cats are different and not all cats react the same way to toys. All cats have the wild instinct of hunt catch kill eat it is just a matter of exploring what will bring out those instincts in your cat.
Check out the range of toys we have available from Ziggy Belle!