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Play these 5 exciting games with your cat

Approx. 4 minutes read

Cats are the enigmas of the domestic animal kingdom. One day they’re rubbing up against your legs and purring. The next day they’re the reincarnation of Dracula himself, drawing blood and making things go ‘bump’ in the night. But there’s a way to get some consistency from your cat’s behaviour and strengthen your human-cat bond: bring on playtime!

But first, playtime benefits

Playtime for cats has a few great benefits. It:

  • keeps your cat’s reflexes sharp
  • is a wonderful form of exercise
  • can build a tight bond between cat and human
  • keeps your cat engaged so she doesn’t need to find mischief elsewhere

Tips for playtime

Unlike dogs, cats don’t have the desire or the stamina to engage in games and playtime all day long. They need their beauty sleep and time to plan global domination. Two or three 15 to 20-minute long play sessions per day should do the trick, though. You may even notice how fun and relaxing it is for you too! Depending on your cat’s energy levels and general sentiment, these play sessions should take place when she’s usually most active: early morning and early evening. But since all cats are different and impossible to predict, it’s best to gauge your cat’s playfulness first and see if she’s up for some games. When you’ve found a routine that works for both of you, stick with it.

Your secret weapon against your cat’s potential indifference to playing games is to trigger her instincts. No cat – no matter how emotionally removed – can resist the hunt; the chase; the need to obliterate and destroy a small creature. Your fearsome huntress will not be able to resist the pull of an alluring bunch of feathers on a string, a rolling ball or a mobile mouse. Catnip is your ally too, so use it generously.

With this in mind, let the games begin!

Play fetch

No, we’re not kidding. Cats love to chase, so with a bit of reinforcement like treats and petting, they will learn that the faster they bring the toy back to you, the faster they’ll get to chase it again. Whether you throw a glitter ball with a jingle bell or a catnip-stuffed soft toy, watch as your cat delights in the thrill of the chase, obliterates the object of her chase with a few bunny kicks, then returns it to you to repeat the exercise again and again.

When you first start out, you may need to retrieve the ball or toy from your cat before she learns that she can simply bring it back to you for continued fun. Cats, hey.

Activity box

This is possibly the best use of a shoe box you’ll ever come across… aside from something your cat loves to sit in and look important.

  1. Assemble your cat’s favourite toys, some catnip and some treats, and a shoebox with a lid.
  2. Cut a number of different shapes into the sides of the shoebox – big enough for your cat’s toys, treats and paws to fit through.
  3. Place the toys and treats in the shoebox and put the lid on. Tape the lid shut so that the toys and treats can only be retrieved through the holes.
  4. Put the box in front of your cat. This should be enough to trigger her curiosity. We hope.

The humble paper bag

Cats have an exploratory urge and insatiable curiosity that will make them investigate the narrowest of openings and the darkest nooks and crannies. To fulfil this urge, all you need is a brown paper bag. Place it on its side with the opening facing your cat. If your cat feigns indifference, try to lure her inside by placing a toy or treat deep inside the bag. Once she’s begun exploring, make scratching noises on the outside of the bag, and playfully poke and prod the bag to engage her. Kittens are especially keen on a game with the invisible enemy!

Feather kill!

It’s no wonder that the most popular toys for cats are simple stick, string and feather toys. The closer the toy comes to mimicking the actual flight of a bird, the more your cat’s instincts will be triggered. Whether you buy a feather toy or simply make your own, this will be the one toy your cat will never be able to resist. Her bird-catching instincts are too strong and you’ll soon have her jumping, reaching, catching and working all of her physical and mental muscles as you play. And besides – it’s super fun to watch your cat keyed in and motivated to play if her default mode is ‘Indifferent Queen of the World’.

Hide-and-seek

This game needs no introduction and is very engaging to build a bond with a new kitten. Crouch down behind the couch or a wall and spy on your cat. Wait for her to make eye contact with you, then ‘disappear’ behind the furniture or around the corner. Her curiosity will be triggered and she will just have to come and hunt you. Play this game enough and she will always come-a-lookin’ for you. This will be her way of letting you know it’s playtime!

The last word

To further enhance the appeal of playtime, don’t leave all of your cat’s toys lying around for her to pick and choose at random. Put away the more exciting balls and toys and only bring them out for your structured cat games. Your cat’s interest will be triggered and she’ll associate you with the best fun and games.

Or not.

Who knows?
Cats.

Sigh.

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