Playtime for Pawsome Cats

Playing with cats helps boost your bond and keep them active

The RSPCA gives its tips on how to play and train your cat to keep them fit and healthy.

Cats are active animals and many, even as adults, enjoy playing. Play can be great exercise both for your cat’s brain and body – preventing them from getting bored and keeping them in shape.

Depending on their age and temperament, play can last anywhere between a few minutes up to about 15 minutes. Cats will usually play with items that resemble their prey for longer and with more intensity, whether they prefer feather toys, smaller mouse-size toys, or bigger, challenging toys.

It’s a great way to bond with your cat and spend some quality time interacting with them.

Here, Sam Watson, RSPCA cat welfare expert, gives her tips on playing with your cat successfully:

“Cats enjoy playing with their owners and not only is this great exercise but also great for bonding with your feline friend. Some cats will enjoy playing on their own as well so make sure there are always suitable, safe toys available. Cats tend to like small multi-textured toys but they will all have their favourites – take time getting to know which toys your cat most enjoys. Making time to play together with your cat is really important for adding variety and fun into their day.

“Playing together can also help to strengthen your bond. There’s a bit of an art to playing with cats and if you’re a first time owner it might take a little practice to master your skills. Cats like to chase objects which are moving in rapid and unpredictable ways, just like a mouse or bird. Use a stick and string toy and encourage your cat to stalk, chase and grab the toy. Many cats get very curious if their toy ‘hides’ out of view for a few moments. Be sure to always let your cat grab and hold the toy during play to prevent them from getting frustrated. For this reason, laser pen type toys and onscreen tablet games are probably best avoided unless the game can end with a physical toy to avoid them becoming frustrated.

“No matter how irresistable it is, in particular with sweet, gentle, kittens, always avoid using your hands and feet as targets during playtime. It seems harmless, especially with young cats who can inflict little damage, but it can form the basis of a potentially injurious habit later in life. Cats who wrestle human hands as kittens are more prone to sudden, unprovoked ‘attacks’ on humans later in life, and it can be a tough habit to break.

“Toys for your cat don’t have to cost very much and there are some things you can make yourself to keep them entertained, from cat treat jars to wand toys and this love heart for your cat.

Cats can become habituated to toys and seem ‘bored’ of them, so it’s a good idea to swap which toys are available every few days.”

Although cats may not need to learn how to sit or walk on a lead like dogs do, they can still benefit from training and despite the myths – it is possible. Cats respond well to clicker training and with a small, tasty treat as a nice incentive they can be trained to get inside their cat carrier or come when called, making those trips to the vets much less stressful for both the owner and the pet.

Sam added: “Learning new behaviours is an excellent form of physical and mental exercise and teaching a few tricks like giving a paw or rolling over can be a great way to get them thinking and moving. Some even learn to play fetch, most likely because we reward them with praise or by throwing the toy to chase again. All training should be reward based which will motivate them to show this particular behaviour again. This may be in the form of a chin or head rub or could be a treat such as some dried fish or small pieces of chicken. The key is to choose a reward that your cat will enjoy.

“The treat should be small – about half the size of a fingernail and will count towards your kitty’s daily food intake.

“Train your cat at a time when they are most active and awake in a room where they feel comfortable. Practice makes perfect and training can take time so don’t expect results immediately. It’s also a good idea to break up training into short but regular sessions to keep their attention.”

More information on caring for cats can be found on the RSPCA website.

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10 thoughts on “Playtime for Pawsome Cats

  1. Holly says:

    Our cat Dizzy has made us hysterically laugh quite a bit at playtime 🙂 Her favorite things are some of the most simple: shoestring, hair bands, toilet paper rolls, etc.

    Training them is definitely not as hard as one might think. I do think some personalities are a bit more hard-headed though 😉 Don’t you?

  2. zodiacimmortal says:

    good times to Play or even play train your cats is when you come home a bit after dinner but before bed. A good long session. This helps for those who have cats that are night ‘talkers’, make lots of noise at night like running around (or over you in bed) as well as a way to train them for when YOU sleep.

    A few play times through the day is good but need one LONG one at night (like while watching tv) this way they shouldn’t wake you but likely sleep with you (if they tend to do that)
    (THis I usually do with my aunt’s cats (esp. Cali) Who LOVES the laser light. (and I let her ‘catch’ it.) When I had sully she would take her own toys out of her toy basket! So does my aunt’s cats (well Cali and Molly) The first time I stayed over and house sit when she had them One night I got scared cause I heard a noise near me… (Rylee might sleep on top of me or near me on the floor and Kitten is always quiet so I knew it wasn’t them) So When I saw a black mass moving near the coffee table I think I forgot about the 2 new cats. But they take their toys out themselves!

    Oh also note… and this is really important.. When you first get a new cat or kitten… buy a couple of cheap toys 2-3 different types (I esp. love those nerf like balls which I would throw against the wall. My cats always went nuts for that) one of those feather sticks (or better yet an interchangeable one) and if a kitten get one of those learning objects like the one that looks like a flat jack. Those types help with their eye paw co-ordination (like the ones that look like springs) crinkle ball (some are scared of them though) ]

    but also have ‘FREE” toys. Like aluminum balls and toilet/paper towel cardboard Rolls as some cats seem to like this sort than the stuff you buy. (my cat tom LOVED these. I had him when I was little until I went into high school I don’t remember having regular cat toys for him. maybe a mouse or 2 (but when we first got him we would take him to my pop pop’s for the weekend which is where we got him… and so he was a mouser first)

    So give them a good mix of made toys (actually animals seem to know when you make them…The ones I’ve made for gifts for my cousin, landlord, and my own and aunt’s cats they seems to get so much happier. Not to mention My cousin’s dog CHOSE the one I made over the store bought!
    So don’t tell me animals are smart!!

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