Although cats have excellent instincts and can romp with each other at a young age, knowing how to play with a cat may not be as instinctual for their human. Many cats are natural hunters while others, especially as they get older, like to lay around all day. Before you relegate your cat’s life to eat, sleep, and repeat, try as many different toys to make its life fun and exciting. Not only will it enrich the cat’s life and possibly keep it from becoming obese, it will strengthen the bond between you both.
If you adopted a pair of kittens (best for kittens to have a buddy), odds are that they will want to play. The best rule of thumb with any cat, old or young, is don’t use your hands as a toy. This will eventually become an issue if they bite hard. Always play using toys!
If you adopted an adult cat, it is best to check with a vet if you have any indication there is a mobility or high-activity issue. Issues can arise at any age, so be aware of your cat’s abilities. Although my cat was less than a year old, she would run and jump until she could not breathe well. I learned to take play breaks so she could catch her breath.
Now, I think cats are a lot like very young children. If they want to play with a certain toy, no matter what you do, that likely will not change. Also, just because you buy a toy, does not mean they will want to play with it. They may have a favorite toy they want to play with or perhaps they are not in the mood to play at all. As the pet parent, it is up to you to seek out the right toy your cat wants to play with today, knowing it might change tomorrow. A pet parent must remain flexible.
Every cat is different and knowing what your cat likes to play with is the first step. Once you figure out what toys it likes best, then you can enrich your cat’s environment by placing the toys around so they can play with them all day long. If it likes to bat toys around the floor, place small toys such as springs, toy mice,or balls on hard floor surfaces so they slide easily when tapped. Your cat will have hours of fun even when you are not home.
springs, toy mice, and crinkle balls
give kitty hours of fun
If your cat likes wand toys, bring them out on a regular basis to enjoy a game together. Using a wand toy with your cat will grow your bond and it allows cats who like to jump or play with a flying toy to get their fix. The trick to playing with a wand toy is to make it seem real. If it’s a bird toy, fly it around the air allowing your cat to jump at it. Let them catch it on occasion so they don’t feel defeated. You can also drag and jerk it across the floor, so the game doesn’t get boring. Be sure not to jerk the string or wire out of the cat’s mouth. Jerking the toy may cause cuts on their mouth. Also, be sure to put the toy in a closet between uses so an over excited cat doesn’t roll on the string or wire wrapping it around their body. This also circumvents your cat chewing through the string making the toy useless. By playing safely, you give your cat and family hours of fun.
wand toys help grow your bond
Ball chasers and track towers are additional types of toys great for cats that like to chase balls, but don’t feel like running. Kittens love them too! These toys provide fun for your cat while you are away or asleep and don't clutter the house. Ones with cardboard centers provide additional safe scratching areas for your cat.
ball chasers and track towers are fun
and don't clutter your home
Whether your cat is a chaser, jumper, hunter, or a combination of them all, there are thousands of options available online or at your local pet store. Besides having fun and building that loving bond between you and your cat, finding toys your cat will play with gives your cat a safe and healthy way to use its energy. Should you have purchased toys your cat does not use, feel free to donate the safe clean ones to your local shelter. They will surely appreciate it!
A note on safety. If an object is not meant to be a toy, then it is not a toy. Some dyes and materials can be harmful to cats when ingested. All old or fraying toys should be disposed of.
The information contained on this blog is for informational and entertainment purposes only. It is not guaranteed to be accurate, as it is solely based on the author's experiences. The views expressed in this publication do not necessarily reflect the views of PBJ Pet Care Service or Pets Bring Joy animal rescue.