Cats love to play, and thinking of games with them has all kinds of benefits – as well as being a lot of fun.
It can be especially important as the weather turns cold and wet. Owners of house cats will know that they need to burn off energy, and helping them out by planning games is good for their physical and mental wellbeing.
Playing with your cat can help to strengthen the bond between you, and encourages them to associate you with fun. Regular play channels their natural instincts and gives them a positive outlet for hunting, biting and scratching. It can help to prevent them from becoming bored, frustrated and anxious.
It also gives our particularly food-focused cats something else to think about! Play habits are really good natural behaviour and the best way to keep tummies trim and nails filed.
We often get asked how long owners should plan for playing with their cats each day.
The honest answer is that every cat is different and you as the owner know your pet best. However, cats tend to get overexcited and overstimulated, at which point they can become frustrated and stressed. This often can lead to scratching and biting, so short bursts of 10 to 15 minutes can work well.
The lovely thing about playing with your cat is the happiness it brings us as owners. If you’re not used to joining in with their fun, here’s some ideas to get you started!
Indoor games for cats
Chasing games – Whether it’s a fishing rod toy you buy from a shop or a long piece of string or wool from your cupboard, cats love to hunt and chase things that move, and these long toys have the added benefit of keeping your fingers out of the way of sharp claws and teeth! Always monitor your cat around string to make sure they don’t attempt it. Lasers are another great method for getting your cat running around, although they can get frustrated when they’re unable to catch that little bead of light!
Paper bags and cardboard boxes – Cats seem to love crinkly paper and cardboard, which can lead to all kinds of fun. You can hide things inside or use a stick or wooden spoon to poke the inside so they think something is moving inside. Watch them stalk, pounce and attack. Or they may just decide to sit inside their new little den!
Small moving toys – From small balls to wind up mice, cats love anything they can hunt and bat around. The variations here are endless. Christmas present bows work well as they tend to crinkle when your cat hits them, which can lead to some hilarious reactions!
Puzzle feeders – There are plenty of puzzle feeders available on the market which are a great way to keep cats entertained, forcing them to work for their food. With a bit of imagination you can build your own at home, too. Try sticking together six toilet roll cardboards, standing them up on a flat surface and sprinkling food inside – you cat will have to fish out the treats with their paw, a tasty challenge!
Digital toys – Tablets can provide endless fun with cats, with videos of mice or fish an old favourite. However, there are now games designed specifically for cats where they’re rewarded for swatting at critters and making contact with the right part of the screen!
Catnip – We’ve written all about cats and catnip here, but needless to say, this is a whole world of fun to discover with your cat if they’ve never experienced it before!
We hope this has been useful and hope that you and your cat have a great time experimenting. If you have any concerns about your cat’s weight or energy levels, please do get in touch with our team and we’ll be happy to help!