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How to get your cat to play more actively

Kitten katja, very playfullAll cats love to play when they are just kittens. But when the kitten ages and becomes an adult cat, they often play less. This isn’t because they don’t like to play anymore, but older cats get less curious and exploratory with age, and so they need more stimulation and attention.

Play time is especially important for indoor cats, as they often get less exercise than their outside counterparts. To keep your cat interested in playing, you should try the following.

Play on a regular basis

Play at least once a day. It doesn’t have to be long, but enough to satisfy your cats playing needs. 15 minutes intense playtime with a lot of running and jumping is enough. If you want to increase your cats excitement, reward him or her with a little snack after playtime. This way the cat will associate play time with the snack reward and will sooner start playing. (make sure to only give a little bit, play time helps to keep your cat in shape, don’t cancel out the effect by over feeding)

Try different toys

Toy mouseSometimes it may seems that you can’t get your cat interested to play. This can occur if you don’t play often, your cat will simply become used to not playing. To counter this, play more often obviously. But the type of toy can be a big factor too. I try to play with my 2 cats at least 2 times a day for 30 minutes each time. One of my cats, Molly, always seemed more hesitant to play than her sister Holly. At first I thought this was personality related (it is to some degree, as she has alway been more withholding) but when I found a certain toy, i got her playing enthusiastically. I used to play with fluffy mice, toys on elastic strings, balls and crumpled pieces of paper and noticed that both my cats like the paper pieces the best. (strangely enough the cheapest play option). Then I got a new toy, a very tiny fluffy mouse, she got really excited about that one and played very enthusiastic with it. You should keep trying different toys until you find the one your cat loves. Some cats love all toys, some only specific toys.

Make it a challenge!

Easy tasks are boring, and just doing the same thing again and again can become tiresome. Give you cat a challenge and make them really put in an effort. This way it will be more rewarding for your cat. If you trow a ball or toy for your cat to chase, change directions, speeds and height to mix it up. If you have a toy on string, change the play location and play on the ground and in the air. This should be quite easy and you can figure out what kind of play-styles your cat loves or dislikes.

Rewarding the cat with the catch

This cat is rewarded after playtimeSo you made playtime challenging, but don’t go too far. I sometimes see people play with cats that never let the cat catch the toy. This can be quite frustrating for your cat. The toy is there and moving around but everything the cat does is useless. This makes the cat less interested and frustrated about playing. So find the right balance and keep it challenging, but let your cat catch the toy after a few goes, and leave the toy with the cat until the interest stops. This is a reward for your cat for catching the toy, just like they would take a pray after a hunt.

Word of advice

When you are distracted or away from home, put away toys that are small (that the cat can swallow) and toys that break easily. Cats can choke on a small toy, so keep an eye out. And put away toys that can break, because some toys can be harmful if eaten.

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1 comment to How to get your cat to play more actively

  • CatLover

    You should play with your cat in the early morning or in the evening, when they will be most responsive. Any attempt to play with them during the day will be met with little enthusiasm.

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