How to play with a cat?

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The game is a essential activity for the cat and a healthy physical constitution will depend on it, as well as a positive emotional state. If you observe your feline cleaning excessively, eating compulsively or sleeping more than 18 hours a day, you may consider that there is a problem related to stress, which you can help channel with a positive routine of games and interaction.

In addition, it is common for domestic cats to have limited hunting behavior, innate in its species, which usually causes frustration or redirection of the conduct, shown as a direct attack on the owner's hands or ankles.

In this AnimalWised article we will show you everything you need to know about how to play with a cat, recommending you toys, explaining in detail the feline behaviors related to game and hunting and also giving you ideas and tips to improve their quality of life. ¡Take note!

You may also be interested: How long should I play with my cat? Index
  1. Why is it so important to play with a cat?
  2. What do cats play with?
  3. How to make a cat play? - 5 fun games
  4. Why doesn't my cat play alone?
  5. Adapting the game to each stage
  6. How long do you have to play with a cat?
  7. How to know if my cat is playing or fighting?

Why is it so important to play with a cat?

The lifestyle has a significant influence on behavior and well-being of the feline. Although it is true that cats sleep many hours a day, between 12 and 18, it is also important to note that when they are awake, their level of activity is very intense, something that is diminished on many occasions when we are faced with domestic cats living in a home without access to the outside.

In these cases, the felines cannot carry out the hunting behavior, that in the wild it would suppose up to six hours of daily physical activity to cover their nutritional needs. That translates into bored cats, overweight cats, or cats that can't help but hunt small insects or toys..

In addition, this problem is aggravated when the owner is not able to correctly interpret feline language and considers that the cat may be asking for food, when in reality it is seeking social interaction and play. When playing with cats, we improve your quality of life, well-being, relationship with the owner and we prevent various problems already mentioned, such as excessive weight and stress. For this reason, it is so important to play with a cat.

What do cats play with?

Cats are curious animals that they need to experiment new experiences to feel stimulated and it is important to emphasize that they do not always use pre-designed toys as an exclusive form of entertainment. A cat can play with plants, boxes, catnip or catnip and even with the appearance of any new object in the home that makes it curious and challenges its senses.

However, when wanting to play with a cat, it may be advisable to use toys to avoid possible scratches and bites, since the play behavior is closely related to hunting. Then, ¿what toys we should choose to know how to play with a cat and motivate it in a positive and successful way?

Hunting toys

Hunting toys are usually the most recommended and we can highlight the Rod or toy cane, whether it has feathers or stuffed animals at the end. It is usually the most appreciated toy by felines, although each one has its own preferences. We also find within this category stuffed mice or interactive toys that move by themselves, such as the butterfly toy for cats, many of them also emit noise.

Intelligence toys

We can also use intelligence toys, such as ball circuits for cats, the kong and other similar toys that act as food vendors. In general, these types of toys combine physical and mental stimulation, but do not include the owner as a participant in the game..

How to make a cat play? - 5 fun games

Gambling behavior is fundamental and necessary for any cat, regardless of age, so it is advisable to spend quality time with your best friend that promotes natural play behavior, especially if it is combined with hunting behavior. As owners, we must strive to know the cat preferences as well as carrying out activities that encourage feline nature.

Here we propose 5 games for homemade cats:

  1. Motivate with the fishing rod: It is usually the most attractive game for a cat, since the rapid movement of the fishing rod captures the attention of cats, which are much more sensitive to movement. If you do not have this toy, you can use any other that you have at hand, moving it constantly.
  2. Play hide and seek with the cat: ¿do you think dogs are the only ones who know how to play hide and seek with humans? Hide behind a door and call your cat to come and get you. Once he finds you, congratulate him profusely and reward him, even with a small piece of food. You can always use the same words to associate them with this activity. For example, "Garfield, ¿where I am?"
  3. Proception exercises: to carry out this activity you will not need much and, in return, you will get your cat to stimulate its balance, touch and also the sense of sight. They are especially popular in dogs, but they can also be excellent in cats. In addition, they help the cat to gain self-confidence. You will only need to place different textures and objects in a room, for example, bubble wrap, a square meter of fake grass or a ladder on the floor. Then you should spread treats for the cat or rub them with catnip. The cat will experiment with new textures and shapes, while discovering.
  4. Olfactory exploration: Try to hide different herbs with smells in a more or less closed toilet paper carton, always paying attention to avoid toxic plants for cats. Some examples may be catnip, valerian, or aloe vera. You will have a great time discovering new things.
  5. Tunnels and hidden prizes: In any specific pet store (and even for children) you can find tunnels that your cat will love. Hide inside the tunnel a prize or some plant that may attract him to stimulate his curiosity. If you don't know what to use, discover 10 scents that attract cats.

Why doesn't my cat play alone?

Many people confuse the enrichment of the home with leaving all the toys available to the feline. This is a serious mistake. You should know that cats show a lot of interest in new objects, substances and smells, therefore, after a single session of games and without the stimulation that you can provide them, a static object does not cause them any curiosity, so they stop playing alone, even when we talk about interactive toys or those that move by themselves.

It can be very interesting to have a box with toys of our cat and withdraw only one or two daily, in order to show interest in them. If the goal is for him to play with us, we will take time to surprise him with those toys and socialize, but if, on the contrary, the objective is to have fun in our absence, we can rub toys with catnip, so that your senses are awakened.

Adapting the game to each stage

The game must always be adapted to each stage of the feline, therefore, we will show you some curiosities that you should know when making your best friend play:

¿How to play with a small cat?

Kittens are especially playful and easy to motivate Unless they have had a very traumatic experience, they tend to enjoy playing games with their humans enormously, settling for just about any new object at their fingertips. It is very positive to stimulate them at this stage, although never excessively, since this will favor a more positive behavior and better well-being, in addition to predisposing the animal to be playful at all stages of its life.

¿How to play with an adult cat?

Not all cats play in their adulthood and it may happen that, if they have not learned hunting or playing behaviors in their socialization stage, they do not know how to play correctly. Some have not even played in their entire lives, since they were promptly separated from their mother and siblings, in addition to the fact that the humans they lived with did not motivate them. Therefore, if you have adopted an adult cat and you are not able to make it play, you may find yourself facing these types of cases..

¿How to play with an adult cat who does not know? This is undoubtedly a very complicated case and it takes time, dedication and the use of all possible tools. By combining catnip, toys and movement, we can get our feline to show interest in the game, although in serious cases, such as before a sensory deprivation syndrome, it may happen that the cat never gets to play.

¿How to play with older cats?

¿Have you ever wondered How old do cats play?? Most owners are unaware that many felines play well into their old age, although obviously not as actively as a puppy or adult cat. In these cases we must adapt the game according to the limitations of the cat itself, but trying to motivate him to continue exercising and stimulating his mind.

How long do you have to play with a cat?

A study published by the Universities Federation for Animal Welfare in 165 shelter cats [1] shows a significant improvement in wellness and stress reduction in those individuals who were in an enriched environment, with a management based on positive reinforcement and where consistency prevailed, the opportunity to interact and favoring natural play behaviors in the feline in 69-76% of cases.

Then, ¿how long should you play with a cat a day? It is important to highlight that needs vary according to each individual And, although it is a fact that the game can improve the levels of stress and anxiety in the feline, a study of the book Animal Behavior highlights the negative effects of excessive stimulation, which would significantly increase stressful situations and that it would not always be a indicator of well-being for cats that have been deprived of stimulation for a long time.

Therefore, play should always be favored progressively and adapted to the individual and their specific needs for play, fun and stress reduction. But on average, you could put your daily playtime at 30 minutes roughly.

How to know if my cat is playing or fighting?

Especially when we are faced with a problem of aggressiveness in the cat, it can be difficult to differentiate the behaviors of the game and those that are effectively part of an aggression towards us. As we have explained previously, aggressiveness can be a consequence of lack of play, that causes the animal to redirect the hunting behavior towards us, although it may also be due to the accumulated energy that it has not been able to channel properly.

But if our cat shows aggressive beyond gaming moments, We could suspect that the behavior is due to another reason, for example a lack of socialization, a trauma or bad experience, due to the cat's own genetics and even due to an organic cause, that is, pain or due to hormonal problem among others.

Faced with any of these problems, it is best to perform a veterinary examination to rule out any pathology and, in the face of serious behavior, consider going to an ethologist or feline educator.

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